E!: It’s been 20 years since you posed in your underwear, without makeup, for More magazine and even pre-social media it went viral. You said a few years later that photo shoot may end up being your “single biggest contribution as a public figure.” It did make a mark.
JLC: I knew it would. And the reason I knew it would was because I was known for being cute naked, and in a bathing suit and in a leotard, and the memes of me and John Travolta grinding [in 1985’s Perfect], and pictures of me naked from Trading Places. I’ve seen them, I know that they exist. [In 2002] I was actually in the middle of promoting a book about self-esteem, a book for kids about liking yourself—and why do you like yourself? What makes us feel good about ourselves? And because I had tried plastic surgery, it had not worked, it made me feel shitty, made me feel worse—I knew I would talk about that. Then I called the magazine and said, “I’ll tell you what. We’re going to do a picture of me”—they wouldn’t put it on the cover, by the way, they still put an airbrushed picture of me with makeup—but I did say to them, “I will take a picture of me in my underwear with no lighting, no makeup, nothing, and then you have to put a full picture of me, fully done up, on the next page, and talk about how much it costs, how long it took and how many people were involved in the creation of that other image.”
Talk about freedom, that moment in that studio with [photographer] Andrew Eccles and my people—I’ve never been freer. I was as free there as I was in Everything Everywhere All at Once—I loved it. I knew that a woman who had looked at a picture of me in a bathing suit, or who saw the movie Perfect, would appreciate that what I was saying is, “I look just like you, and don’t believe what you see.” That’s really the message, isn’t it? What you see is not real. And this was before we could do it on our fucking phones, with a filter.