Eileen Atkins talks ridiculous reaction to telling Jack Nicholson his flies were undone

Jack Nicholson stars in the 1980 classic horror The Shining

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Eileen Atkins, 87, recalled the reaction she got from the cast and crew of 90s film Wolf, after she candidly told fellow actor Jack Nicholson, 84, his flies were undone. The Doc Martin star admitted she wasn’t embarrassed to let him know, but everyone else around them was shocked with her blatancy.

For everyone else, you’d have thought I’d lifted the Pope’s gowns and shown his knickers

Eileen Atkins

In a new interview, the actress remembered meeting The Shining legend for the first time.

“When I worked on [1994 thriller] Wolf, Jack Nicholson came onto the set preceded by five people looking after him,” she said.

“It was impossible to get to know him.

“We’d barely been introduced and were about to do a shot when I noticed his flies were undone.

“So, I told him.”

She went on: “Jack couldn’t have cared less, said thank you and zipped himself up.

“But for everyone else, you’d have thought I’d lifted the Pope’s gowns and shown his knickers.

“Ridiculous!” she rolled her eyes.

It was perhaps something to do with his high status in the acting community, and Eileen remains glad that her level of fame is bearable.

She referred to her close pal and former Cranford – the period drama which earned Eileen a Bafta and an Emmy – co-star Judi Dench, saying: “We went on a shopping trip in Bath and everybody was coming up to Judi.

“I thought, ‘How can she bear it?’

“I mix into the crowd much more easily!”

She added: “Although when I’m stopped it’s nearly always for Doc Martin, which is irritating.”

She admitted she prefers being recognised as a theatre actress rather than for her work on-screen, explaining sheepishly it’s “rather snobby” of her to do so.

“In America, I’m stopped in the street because I’m a theatre actress,” she told Radio Times.

“Then I enjoy it enormously!

“I feel they’re a different kind of person, which is very snobby of me.”

Eileen’s full interview is available to read now in Radio Times.

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