Hollywood Flashback: 'The Full Monty' Sunk 'Titanic' at the SAG Awards in 1998

THE FULL MONTY
20th Century-Fox Film Corp./Courtesy Everett Collection

The low-budget British comedy won best performance by a cast in a motion picture at the ceremony, beating a murderers' row that included 'Good Will Hunting,' 'Titanic,' 'Boogie Nights' and 'L.A. Confidential.'

The Full Monty's SAG Awards upset for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture at the 1998 ceremony — beating a murderers' row that included Good Will Hunting, Titanic, Boogie Nights and L.A. Confidential — capped an unlikely journey from low-budget British comedy to one of the most beloved properties of the 1990s.

1997's Monty launched a Broadway musical and a hit play that ran in London's West End from 2014 until the novel coronavirus pandemic forced its theater to shutter last year. It all began when Italian producer Uberto Pasolini approached screenwriter Simon Beaufoy with an idea. "He was fascinated by the idea of male strippers," recalls Beaufoy, 54. Chippendales had proved a hit in London, and Beaufoy hadn't given it much thought: "But Uberto said, 'In Italy, this would never happen. What's happened to British men that they do this? Where is that pride? Where is that dignity?' I thought that was so interesting."

It was Beaufoy's idea to set the tale in Sheffield, England, a Northern steel town that had fallen on tough times. "The two things together worked really well," he says. The story centers on laid-off steelworker Gaz (Robert Carlyle), who, stressed over child support payments, dreams up a burlesque show featuring a chorus line of regular blokes. What do they have over the chiseled Adonises of Chippendales? The fact that they go "full monty," i.e., show full-frontal nudity.

"The delight of it is that these were not going to be attractive men," says Beaufoy. "They were big, small, everything wrong with them — just like everything wrong with you or me. They were people with frailties who were going to do something incredibly brave at the end of the film." And they did: In the climactic final striptease, the extras in the crowd were not told what to expect at the end of the boys' routine set to "You Can Leave Your Hat On."

Says Beaufoy: "The cameras were trained on the audience for that last shot. You got their genuine looks of surprise, delight and horror."

This story first appeared in a January stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.