US director Lee Daniels had some explaining to do in Cannes on Thursday over a scene in his new film The Paperboy which sees Nicole Kidman urinate on the jellyfish sting of her co-star Zac Efron.
The movie, premiered on Thursday, casts Kidman as a small-town vamp whose tacky sensuality proves mesmerising to the fresh-faced youth played by Efron, a world away from his High School Musical debut in the Florida-set thriller.
When Efron's character Jack is caught in a bank of jellyfish, Kidman shoves aside a gang of girls about to urinate on his stings — as received wisdom would dictate — and proceeds to do it herself.
"I'm not here to please everybody — I'm here to tell truth," Daniels said when quizzed about the sequence, suggesting the buzz of amused disbelief it caused on the Internet was because people "have a fetish about it".
"Jellyfish cure is by urinating on the skin, that is just the way Pete Dexter wrote the book, I executed the vision," Daniels told AFP after a press screening of the film, which he based on a novel of the same name.
"He is frustrated because he can't get his girlfriend, he wants this woman, he goes out to swim because he's furious, he's swimming off his frustration... and half way through he is attacked by jellyfish."
Matthew McConaughey, who plays Jack's crusading reporter brother Ward in the movie, chipped in a word, saying: "That is, practically, what you are supposed to do for a jellyfish sting!
"Of all the things in the movie that are shocking, that was kind of a light scene!" added John Cusack, who plays the part of Hillary, a death row inmate who takes up a correspondence with Kidman's character.
The film, one of 22 in the running for the Palme d'Or, sees Ward return to his native Florida after he becomes convinced Hillary has been falsely sent to death row, hooking up with his brother and the vampish Charlotte to investigate.