Judge Reinhold is reflecting on one of the most iconic film sequences of the 1980s: his “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” masturbation scene.

The “Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F” actor told Vanity Fair that while the scene is “kind of creepy” out of context, it played to the dark humor of his character Brad, who is experiencing one of the worst days of his life. Reinhold admitted, though, that it was “awkward” to film the sequence with co-star Phoebe Cates.

Reinhold’s Brad imagines Cates’ character taking off her bikini top while getting out of the pool in a private moment. But then the door opens and she catches him mid-act. In fact, that single scene led an executive to deem the film “pornography” and threatened to shelve the Universal release.

“If you take that scene out of context, it’s kind of creepy. But to me, it was very funny when I read the script, because it was just a matter of how much more can he endure?” Reinhold said. “That was one of maybe the dumbest and one of the bravest things I’ve ever done. Obviously it was simulated, but it was an extremely personal thing, and it was just humiliating. At one point, we’d done a few takes where she catches me, and I said, ‘I’ve got to go. I just had to get out.’”

He added, “It wasn’t easy. When I read the script, I thought it was just so funny. But when it came time that day….I don’t know how it was for Phoebe. I think we were both awkward. We both had to work through it. The audience doesn’t realize it, nor should they have to think about it, but it’s not easy, that stuff. I just went with it. One thing that made [performing] it easy was that I was incredibly uncomfortable.”

Reinhold credited director Amy Heckerling for easing him into the scene, especially when he had to step away for a break between takes.

“Amy followed me, and I remember she said, ‘Look, it’s a love scene — only it’s with yourself,’” Reinhold said. “It cracked us up. I just remember that so vividly on the sidewalk. We were laughing. She was my bud.”

Heckerling was also key in getting Reinhold to land the part in the first place, especially since producer Art Linson thought Reinhold looked “as old as Ed Asner” when he was just 23.

“One thing that stuck with me was Art said, ‘You’re the only one who read the part who didn’t feel sorry for himself.’ That hadn’t occurred to me,” Reinhold said of why he got the character. “Brad just soldiers on through all of these indignities. It was basically the worst year of his life, but it didn’t occur to me to be self-pitying about it. I think that’s what won him over.”

Reinhold isn’t the only actor to credit their director in coaching for a masturbation scene. Naomi Watts thanked David Lynch for making her more confident in the “Mulholland Drive” self-love sequence.

In fact, Lynch almost directed “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” too, according to screenwriter Cameron Crowe.

Watts told Variety that she was “traumatized” by the thought of having to perform a masturbation moment. “I remember having to go to the bathroom multiple times because I think I might have been having explosive something or other,” Watts said. “I was so in butterflies. I was freaked out and David [Lynch] knew that, but he didn’t want to not get the scene. I kept sort of attempting it and going, ‘I can’t do this, David. I can’t do it.’ He was always off at the other side of the room in a black tent or something, and actually he made it very private for me. So I managed to feel a little bit safer because of that, but I just kept crying. And he didn’t want an emotive scene; he wanted someone who was angry and trying to reconnect with an erotic moment.”

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