The beautiful brunette rises from the pool naked, water cascading down her back. The Miami sunshine is so mercilessly bright that the revealing scene would be a challenge for any actress, much less one doing her first nude scene.
Asked about that scene early in the drama Magic City, which starts tomorrow, Jessica Marais says that it was not only her first nude scene but her first day on the set of the eight-part series and to handle it she channelled the personality of her character - gangster's wife Lily Diamond.
"Lily is swimming in her pool at home and when she realises she is in the view of another man she's not particularly bothered by it," Marais said.
"I myself would probably be shy in that situation and not able to do it but Lily is a completely different human being and when I go into being her, I don't really have a problem with it."
The WA-raised actress is on set in Miami filming a second series of Magic City when we speak. In a vote of confidence, the US network which commissioned the show ordered another eight parts before the first episode had screened.
Magic City begins at the end of the 1950s on the eve of Fidel Castro taking over in Cuba, an event which triggering a flood of refugees into Miami, and at a time when organised crime was tightening its hold on the city. There is a Mad Men quality to the attention to dress and period detail in the show.
Marais found herself in the early stages of pregnancy during the making of the first series but still managed to pour herself into the sculptured gowns of the period. Now with daughter Scout six months old, her post-pregnancy curves are fitting right in with Lily's sexy siren image.
"I have always been a fan of vintage clothing and I've always enjoyed taking dresses from time periods past and playing with them in a modern way but I haven't done it all out," she said.
"I don't think I would survive. It was not just throwing on sunglasses and T-shirt and out the door. Then, the nails had to match the dress, you had to pick the right colour eye shadow and have perfect hair and even the right undergarments."
Appearances are important to Marais' character Lily, who survives on her looks and her wits. Her husband, mobster Ben "The Butcher" Diamond (Danny Huston), is a silent partner in the new and luxurious Miami hotel, Miramar Playa, built and run by Ike Evans (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).
Evans is forced to turn to Diamond for help when a labour picket looks like ruining a crucial New Year's Eve concert by Frank Sinatra. What Evans does not realise is that his son Stevie (Steven Strait) is having an affair with Lily.
Marais is enjoying playing Lily, who she says becomes more complicated as the season unfolds.
"She is in what appears to be an abusive relationship and married to the most dangerous man in Miami," she said. "He teeters on the verge of charisma and then absolute psychosis most of the time and he is physically threatening when he wants to be. She is handed a lot of psychological and physical violence.
"It was very tempting to play her as a victim. However, I think there is a huge strength among all her vulnerability and she has a huge will to survive."
Marais expects to be still filming in Miami until the new year.
Her fiance James Stewart, whom she met on Seven's Packed to the Rafters, is caring for Scout while she works and the family has settled into life in the Florida city.
"I really enjoy it here but my life is very different to my life as Lily," she laughed. "I'm lucky if I get to go out once every blue moon. Going out for dinner is pretty much the extent of my living the Miami high life. My life is looking after the baby and any minute that I am not on set I am spending with my family."
Family is important to the couple and that is one reason why, contrary to reports, they are not planning to settle in Los Angeles.
"Both sets of grandparents are back in Australia and my mother would kill me if I spent the rest of my life in America and only ever went back for Christmas or holidays."But she still does not know if they will be able to bring Scout home for Christmas. "That is the million-dollar question, it depends on how the shoot goes."
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