Dawson's Creek babe Katie Holmes, who goes topless opposite

Greg Kinnear in the new psychological thriller The Gift (opening wide Jan. 20), counted on the former Talk Soup funnyman to help ease her through her first-ever nude scene.

"I hadn't been involved in anything like that — and she hadn't either — so I think we diffused it with some good humor on the set," Kinnear tells TV Guide Online. "I think something like that is always percolating at total discomfort. And yet, if you can have at least some sense of the silliness of it, [you] can diffuse it a little bit.

"It was a closed set and it was handled with great dignity, I think, by the crew and by [director Sam Raimi]," adds Kinnear, whose character is engaged in a heated argument with Holmes during the pivotal sequence. "I think we set out to make the scene as impactful as we could, but not make Katie uncomfortable. She was great. She's a real actress; she took the role very seriously."

Kinnear, last seen opposite Ren&#233e Zellweger in Nurse Betty, admits that he's surprised the dark comedy didn't fare better at the box office. "I so don't understand movie hits and misses," says the Oscar-nominated actor (As Good as It Gets). "I thought it was a really engaging movie. It did okay, but it just wasn't the big hit that a lot of people thought it might have been. It's one of those things, you know? Audiences will either go with you or not."