“I always loved Norman Lindsay’s work and would frequent his gallery in the Blue Mountains quite a lot in my youth,” Tziporah recalls.
“My mother and stepfather had quite the collection of his art – I had loved him since I was a little girl reading his children’s book, The Magic Pudding, then admiring his naughty nudes in our home, to of course becoming one of his nudes in the film,” she says, laughing.
Tziporah was just 19 years old when she scored the role that would require her to strip off – something she never saw as an issue.
“I was happy to do it – it was an art movie. John’s script was beautiful … it wasn’t a rub-and-tug movie!” she quips, before adding she was far too self-conscious to be fully nude on film.
“The one thing I said to the filmmakers was that I didn’t want to show down below. My backside was fine, my breasts were OK, but I didn’t want anyone to see that bit. I was allowed that.”
Certainly, Tziporah, 47, has had a trying relationship with her body, admitting she has struggled appealing to all.
“I had to put on 10 kilos for this role, they wanted more voluptuous figures to be Lindsay’s models – I thought it was terrific,” she says.
“My body type has always been on the curvy side – I’ve never had abs or a washboard stomach. My weight at the time would yo-yo, but looking back it was from a size 6 to 8 – then I did get quite big later in life.
"That was more out of rebellion, it was my ‘Britney Spears, shaving my head’ moment, it was me telling the world I’m so sick of everyone telling me to be skinny – it was defiant!”
WATCH: Tziporah on her relationship with James Packer
The star admits that most people are surprised to learn she has a more demure side outside of her often risqué and bold projects.
“I’m quite shy – I prefer intimacy over new experiences, if you like … I’m talking about sex and nudity,” she clarifies.
“I am receptive and optimistic, but I am not this big raunch girl at home. I think that’s where I’ve possibly come into trouble with dating and relationships, because I date men who are fans and they keep bludgeoning me with, ‘What’s wrong, what’s wrong?’ because they want the bells and whistles that I am perhaps more known for,” she reflects.
Despite the film generating fierce competition for young Australian starlets – Tziporah reveals Claudia Karvan almost had Elle’s role, while Kym Johnson was up for Portia’s – she insists the trio of Aussie models always got along swimmingly during filming in New South Wales’ scenic Blue Mountains.
“There was never any rivalry. Elle was a professional,” she gushes of the famous model, who has enjoyed a lengthy international modelling career. “She was clever and charismatic, and was lovely to be around. I do remember she had her lingerie line, and she found out Portia and my sizes from the costume designer and gifted us with a bunch of stuff.”
As for Portia, who would go on to launch herself in the US and marry talk-show queen, Ellen DeGeneres, she was a real-life “ingénue”, according to Tziporah.
“I was a well-known model in Australia, Elle was known overseas, but nobody really knew who Portia was at the time – yet she was a committed actor,” she explains.
“Portia was outish at the time – she had a boyfriend and kind of had a girlfriend. She sort of knew she was gay, but there were issues. It’s hard for me to comment, I don’t understand what it’s like to be in that situation. She was conflicted about coming out, I think,” adds Tziporah.
While the actress’ work might have conjured up a few hiccups in her love life, there’s no denying her ambition and respect for the industry.
“Not long after I won the Dolly competition in 1988, my agent told me she could see me headed down the path into acting,” says Tziporah. “I was always meant to be an actress.”
But the star reveals she still regrets not taking TV presenter Don Burke’s advice of sticking with television.
“I was quite wary in the beginning of my acting days, I wanted to be authentic and confident – it took time for me to find my feet with that,” says Tziporah, who shared an acting coach with Halle Berry.
“Look, if someone offered me a great role I would absolutely do it. I don’t think I particularly want to go back to doing auditions for every tiny thing, but the short answer is yes – I would return to acting if that opportunity was presented to me.”
As for a sequel to the film? It’s not something that should be ruled out!
“It was a very unique film, it could probably be made again. It’s a transcendent story, one that people clearly love.”
For more, pick up a copy of New Idea. On sale now.