The actor appeared in the director’s adaptation of Edith Wharton’s novel The Age of Innocence in 1993. The film starred Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer and Winona Ryder, with Margolyes playing the role of Mrs Mingott.
Margolyes, 82, has reflected on her experience working on the Scorsese film in her second memoir, titled Oh Miriam: Stories from an Extraordinary Life, in which she explained that she decided to flash her director and the film’s crew members after one particularly long morning.
“Since 6am that morning, the crew had watched a long succession of actors parade across the podium for hair and make-up approval,” she wrote in the memoir, adding: “Actor followed actor and hour followed hour. I was the very last one, facing an exhausted workforce.”
Margolyes said that, after seeing “their faces were polite but lined with fatigue,” she “felt it was my duty to raise their spirits”. Consequently, she “fell back on my well-tried remedy for the flagging male – and female”.
The actor recalls she told a crew member in front of Scorsese: “‘It’s Miriam Margolyes playing Mrs Mingott, and you deserve these.’
“And without further ado, I pulled up my maroon ‘Dickens’ Universe’ T-shirt and my proud and thrusting breasts, released from any confining brassiere (I have always hated confinement) cascaded out of my clothes, in a snowy Victoria Falls of mammarial magnificence.”
She said Scorsese and the assembled crew’s reaction was a “stunned” and “dazed silence”, which quickly turned “into roars of laughter” and ultimately, according to Margolyes, “gratitude”.
The actor concluded: “Breasts never fail!”, and said that Scorsese “has never forgotten” the memory, stating: “Many years later, he said to me, ‘I remember that hair and make-up parade most particularly.’”
In a recent interview, while promoting her new memoir, Margolyes called John Cleese “poisonous”, and branded him “a puny tadpole of a person”.
Oh Miriam: Stories from an Extraordinary Life is out now. Scorsese’s new film, Killers of the Flower Moon, will be released in cinemas on 18 October ahead of its addition to Apple TV+ in November.