Stars Undress for Success at Premiere

updated 09/03/2003 at 12:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/03/2003 1:04PM

The most unlikely skin-flick stars, Helen Mirren and Julie Walters, showed up in the flesh at Tuesday night's London premiere of their new movie "Calendar Girls." They were fully dressed, reports PEOPLE.

As they greeted crowds and posed with six of the real-life Calendar Girls (on whose exploits this movie is based), Oscar-nominated (for "Educating Rita" and "Billy Elliot") Walters, 53, said without typical British understatement: "This is the most fantastic project I have ever been involved with – it has been so rewarding. It has been the best experience I've ever had on a film."

The feel-good film tells the story of a North Yorkshire charity group called the Women's Institute, whose members tossed caution to the wind – along with their clothes – when they decided that a nude calendar would be a novel way to raise money for charity after the husband of one of their members died of leukemia.

Proceeds from the movie's premiere went to the charity, which so far has raised nearly $950,000.

"There's never been a better reason for taking off my clothes," said Mirren, 58, best known on these shores for the PBS drama "Prime Suspect."

Although apparently doing good was not enough to shed inhibitions -- it took a lot of booze, too.

Mirren, Walters and the rest of the cast said at a press conference Tuesday how they all got drunk one night and, despite having the option to keep their knickers on, just decided to do the full Monty. Not that it was easy for everyone. The film's director, Nigel Cole, was said to be terrified when surrounded by 11 naked, giggling women. That'll teach him to keep his pants on.

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