“Playboy Club” Star Amber Heard on Dating, Controversy and Curves

Amber Heard has a lot of thoughts on the socio-political considerations of her new series “The Playboy Club" (debuting tonight on NBC). But – like the Hefner-run magazine’s mix of serious articles and sexy centerfolds – she’ll start off by talking about eye candy.

“If I have to drag curves back personally myself, then by golly I will,” the 25-year-old actress tells PopcornBiz of the iconic Playboy Bunny costume and the style trend she hopes it re-inspires, with its emphasis on wasp-waists, curvaceous cottontails and amble décolletage. “When I put it on for the first time it took me back to this time, this kind of very, very specific moment in history when this existed, something that feels naughty, but nice. It feels edgy and cool and different. It's a lot of fun.”

“The '60s was a time that lends itself to the true feminine form, the true silhouette,” Heard, who plays the fresh-of-the-boat Bunny Maureen, newly hired at Hugh Hefner’s original Chicago Playboy Club in 1963, a mysterious young woman whose unique mix of naïveté and hard-won experience places her at the center of the legendary’s nightclub’s behind-the-scenes intrigue. “I was excited about the suit, and excited about the time period it takes place in because it's a different silhouette for women. This is pre-airbrushing, pre-digital enhancement, pre-plastic surgery. For the most part this is women with their natural curves, and I was excited that I could keep them.”

The actress admits she found herself sucked into the multilayered world of the Playboy Club of the 60s and its dichotomous blend of making its servers’ sexuality its signature, while at the same the empowering the young women it employed wit their first taste of money and status. She explains that she wanted to understand both the celebration and the stigmas that characterized the Playboy Club experience.

“In doing research I was blown away by the kinds of stories that I heard and the kind of things that I learned, both in the Bunnies’ stories and in Hugh Hefner's story,” Heard continues. “When I learned what a revolutionary he was, socially, I was proud to be aligned with his brand. That did it for me: he integrated his club long before it was obligated or long before it was even socially acceptable. That's huge. I understand how that feels. I mean, I understand how it feels to be a part of a society that's having a debate in futility about who's equal and who's not. I know how that feels.”

That last comment is a reference to Heard’s much written-about announcement that she’s in a relationship with another woman, a topic she neither shies away from nor uses to court controversy. “It makes no difference to me, personally,” she says. “I've always been a private person and valued my private life. That being said, a lot of the media attention surrounding my relationship has been frustrating, simply because I'm a private person. But I think there's an important moment happening in our society right now, and I had to do the right thing. At the end of the day I don't label myself one way or another. I come from a place where I find it hard to identify with the label. I've dated men in the past. Now I'm dating a woman, and I see it as ultimately no big deal.”

Despite the obvious cross-branding opportunity, Heard has opted out of being photographed nude for Playboy magazine to promote the series. “I think the magazine is very different from the show,” she explains. “I'm an actor and I'm happy playing the part of a Bunny.”

"The Playboy Club" premieres tonight at 10 PM ET on NBC


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