Jamie Lee Curtis says her legendary striptease in ‘True Lies’ was done with no rehearsals and no choreography

Jamie Lee Curtis in a black dress looking in the mirror
Jamie Lee Curtis in ‘True Lies.’ Fox
  • Curtis said she had no rehearsals or choreographer to pull off the scene.
  • She shot it over three days with the song “Alone in the Dark” playing on set.
  • Director James Cameron was the one who came up with her falling down in the middle of the tease.
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In the 1994 spy comedy “True Lies,” directed by James Cameron and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a government agent who must juggle saving the world with his family issues, one of the most memorable scenes is when Jamie Lee Curtis, who plays Schwarzenegger’s wife in the movie, performs a sexy striptease for him.

Looking back at it now decades later, Curtis reveals the shocking truth about how she pulled off the scene.

“The thing that nobody knows: There was no rehearsal, there is no choreographer. Jim [James Cameron] said to me, ‘What do you want to dance to?'” Curtis said on People’s “People in the ’90s” podcast.

Curtis said she asked for the John Hiatt song “Alone in the Dark” to be played and for the next three days of production she said she danced like she does at home when “nobody [is] around.”

“We were doing it over and over and over, and it got quieter and quieter,” Curtis said of doing the scene.

Jamie Lee Curtis in her underwear
Jamie Lee Curtis had no rehearsals for this striptease scene in ‘True Lies.’ Fox

In the scene, Curtis’ Helen character, starving for excitement in her life, thinks she’s part of a spy mission to seduce a man in his hotel room, but it’s actually all been orchestrated by her husband (Schwarzenegger).

Perhaps it was a little too sexy: Curtis said it was Cameron who came up with the idea that Curtis falls down in the middle of the tease.

She said the result was the “single biggest laugh” she’s ever gotten in one of her movies.

In the middle of Helen’s tease, while her husband is really taken by her, out of nowhere her hand slips off the bed pole and she falls to the ground and embarrassed quickly gets back up.

“It’s because Jim knew that the dance was too sexy; it was too real,” Curtis said on the podcast. “It started to actually be good, and he knew he needed to break the spell of what the husband had put his wife through. I think we did two takes where I let go of the pole.”

True lies 20th century fox
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis in ‘True Lies.’ 20th Century Fox

When it came to seeing the finished product, Curtis said she was sitting next to her father, legendary actor Tony Curtis, at the movie’s premiere.

“It gets really quiet during that sequence because it’s a little sexy,” she said. “Then when [Helen] falls and then gets back up, oh my God,” she recalls a wave of laughter in the theater.

“It’s all Jim, to his great credit, it’s all him,” Curtis said. “He knew, it’s a comedy.”

The scene has gone on to become a standout moment in 1990s cinema.

Back in 2016, then-“Silicon Valley” star Kumail Nanjiani admitted to Curtis when the two were guests on “The Late Late Show with James Corden” that the striptease scene “dragged me through puberty.”

Curtis casually responded back: “I’m a legend.”

The actress will next be seen in “Halloween Kills,” which comes out in October. And she recently wrapped on the adaptation of the popular video game “Borderlands,” which also stars Cate Blanchett and Kevin Hart.