When Nicola Peltz Beckham auditioned for the chance to play Dorothy Stratten in “Welcome to Chippendales” she wanted the part very, very badly. Peltz Beckham tells POPSUGAR that for the audition, she wanted to sound like her, look like her, move like her. “I really did every bit of research I could find, whether that be physical or just the way she spoke, the way she sounded, how she looked, just everything,” she explains about her performance.
But Peltz Beckham’s connection to the Playboy bunny and actor goes back a lot further. “I knew about Dorothy’s story years ago,” she explains. “I watched the film ‘Star 80’ and it stuck with me and it just is one of those films and stories that has always just lived in my head.” The 1983 film “Star 80” told the story of Stratten’s life and death; the title came from Stratten’s vanity license plates.
Before she read the “Welcome to Chippendales” script, Peltz Beckham had “no idea” the model’s life intersected with the story of the legendary male stripping empire. As depicted in the first episode of the Hulu true crime series, which was released Nov. 22, Stratten was dating and then later married club promoter Paul Snider (Dan Stevens). Snider teamed up with Steve Banerjee (Kumail Nanjiani) to open the first Chippendales club. In 1980, Snider killed Stratten and himself. “Her story is so shocking and wild and then when you look at this other part of it . . . the fact that they’re intertwined was shocking, that so much could happen in all these people’s lives,” Peltz Beckham says.
Similar to the series, the real Stratten came up with the idea for the male strippers to wear the now-iconic cuffs and collars, modeled after the costumes worn by Playboy bunnies. “I love the scene when she comes up with the cuffs and collars and how excited she is,” Peltz Beckham notes. “I just think it’s a testament to her relationship with Paul that even though it was going south, their personal relationship, she kept trying to uplift him. She’s such a kind and genuine person that she always wants to make people around her feel good.”
Peltz Beckham also loved finding Stratten’s personal style with costume designer Peggy A. Schnitzer. “Dorothy dressed really sexy but classy. It felt timeless,” she says. “I feel like I would love to wear those clothes now. Everything I wore in the show, I was like, ‘I would love to wear that.’ I think her style was really beautiful.” There’s a moment in the show where Peltz Beckham as Dorothy wears a flower in her hair, based on a real photo of her. “I have a picture in my living room of my parents when they got married, and my mom had that flower in her hair,” she says.
Peltz Beckham also feels like she has something in common with the character. “I think that people may have looked at Dorothy a certain way because of the way she talked or looked or what she wore and maybe not taken her seriously, so I can relate to that,” she says. And despite Stratten’s life ending in tragedy, Peltz Beckham appreciated the joy that she got to bring to many of the scenes. She loved the scene in the club when they go out dancing and loved the montage of other gimmicks the club tried, like oyster-eating contests and mud wrestling. But most of all, she loved the chance to play opposite Stevens and Nanjiani. “They’re so talented obviously, but they’re such amazing people and they’re so kind,” she says.
“I am so honored that I got the chance to play Dorothy, and I really hope that people like my performance because I love her so much,” she says. “I hope I did her justice. . . . There’s just certain people who walk in a room and they bring light, they have an inner light to them, and I really hope that I got that across because I just want people to know how lovely she was.
New episodes of “Welcome to Chippendales” are released Tuesdays on Hulu.