05/25/2007 at 11:55 AM EDT
Eva Mendes may have confidently showed off her body in tiny bikinis on magazine covers, but she wasn't so keen on baring even more on screen.
"I wasn't comfortable at all," she told reporters Friday at the Cannes press conference for We Own the Night, which contains a steamy sex scene – her first – with Joaquin Phoenix.
"They were very sweet and they poured me a vodka and orange juice and then I was fine," she said.
"I'm very professional and I don't usually drink on the job but that morning I had a little vodka and OJ," she said, laughing.
Of the scene, Mendes, 33, said: "It was my first sex scene and thank God it was with [director] James Gray. Not that it was actually with James," she said, correcting herself to much laughter. "He did it at the end of the shoot, so it was the last day and I was really, really comfortable with these clowns," she said, indicating Phoenix and Gray.
Asked if it helped to think it was her character and not her up there, Mendes said: "My boob is still my boob." She paused, then added: "Wow, that sounded really stupid."
Of working with Phoenix, who fidgeted through the press conference and at one point tried to light a cigarette, she laughed and said: "It's kind of like working with a puppy dog or a two-year-old. When you have its attention, it’s really cute, but otherwise..."
She later described Phoenix as "one of the greatest actors of my generation," to which Phoenix rolled his eyes.