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Marisa Tomei grappled with stripper role for ’Wrestler’

For Hollywood honey Marisa Tomei, one of the hardest parts of playing a stripper in her new flick “The Wrestler,” was learning how to, er, pocket her tips. Lucky for M, a friendly dancer named Misty came to her rescue.

“She showed me how to fold dollar bills correctly,” joked Tomei, who was in town with “Wrestler” director Darren Aronofsky yesterday to promote their new movie.

The “Rescue Me” hottie, who hung out in strip clubs and chatted up Misty and other exotic dancers to research her role as a stripper named Cassidy, found that – to her surprise – she had a lot in common with the gals.

“It’s like any field . . . everyone’s different. The common thing is there is a love of the performance that I can relate to . . . that performance high,” Tomei told the Track.

The 43-year-old BU alum, who had to take it all off for much of the flick, said she was terrified the first time she sidled up to the pole.

“The first time I had to strip, I took a lot of tequila shots . . . but I was still so scared,” she said.

But her audience seemed to enjoy the show!

“When I had the guts to finally look, I thought I would be faced by all these judgmental eyes,” she said. “I just really found that they were like kids in a candy store – filled with awe and glee. It was freeing.”

To get into such awe-inspiring shape, Tomei said she added Hula Hooping to her fitness regimen and changed her diet a bit.

“Just a little less bread,” she said.

Tomei’s director, Aronofsky, a Brooklyn native and Harvard alum, said he had a tough time casting the leading man for the flick – a role that went to Mickey Rourke .

“Besides the emotional range that I needed, someone had to pull off the physicality of it too,” Aronofsky told the Track. “He ended up putting on 40 pounds of muscle. He was eating nonstop and lifting twice a day.”

And speaking of Rourke, Aronofsky vehemently denied rumors that the 52-year-old “Sin City” star had a fling with his 21-year-old co-star Evan Rachel Wood .

“It’s just not true,” he said. “She lives in L.A., and he lives in New York. They’ve known each other for a total of 10 days. I know that nothing happened. It was pretty offensive because they were just going after him.”

Aronofsky has been “dating” actress Rachel Weisz since 2002 and the couple has a 2 -year-old son, Henry . “We live in sin,” he joked.

“The Wrestler” is scheduled to open Dec. 31 in limited release.

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