The amount of nudity we see in television and film is astronomically higher than ever before. Shows like Game of Thrones and Girls show stars in the buff on almost a weekly basis. While scenes involving nudity have been relegated to “gratuitous” and “pornographic” in the past, the purpose and discussion behind those scenes is starting to change. Now, nude scenes can be viewed as empowering, poignant, and even necessary to storytelling for these films and TV shows. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the Hollywood landscape has been scrubbed clean of its blatantly titillating nude scenes either, especially in regards to women.
Female celebrities in film and TV are the first to be taken advantage of when it comes to nude scenes. Whether the scene is necessary or not, women in the industry are expected to oblige and strip their clothes whenever asked of them. Some female celebs have voiced stark opposition to filming nude scenes, even refusing to consider the option.
While baring it all is a deal-breaker for some, stripping down is a no-brainer for others. Actresses like Mary-Louise Parker and Emmy Rossum frequently go naked for their roles on their racier Showtime shows. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re happy about all the scenes that come their way. Female celebrity nude scenes will always be a source of controversy and criticism. Misogyny within the industry is to blame for that, especially when considering the unequal portrayal of nudity between men and women on-screen. But what do these women think about nude scenes themselves? Here’s a roundup of popular actresses’ opinions on doing nude scenes.
Emilia Clarke has been pretty vocal about her nude scenes in Game of Thrones. But she’s also been relatively flip-floppy on her stance on them. After Season 4 of Game of Thrones, Clarke vowed to never do a nude scene for the show again. She told interviewers in 2015 that “sex scenes should be more subtle,” saying that she’d be participating in fewer of them in upcoming seasons of the show. “I’m British, so I cringe at that sort of thing anyway. I can’t stand it,” she added.
Clarke clarified her statements later, claiming they were taken out of context. “Sometimes explicit scenes are required and make sense for the characters/story, as they do in Westeros. If it’s gratuitous for gratuitous sake, then I will discuss with a director on how to make it more subtle,” she said.
Clarke recently received criticism after appearing fully nude again in a recent Game of Thronesepisode. She defended the scene, saying: “I personally have had a lot of [criticism] where people are like, ‘Oh, the chick who takes her clothes off,’ as a kind of derogatory thing, and I’m like, ‘Excuse me, [those scenes] couldn’t be more empowering.’ The fact that I’m naked is just like a ‘screw you’ to all the haters, do you know what I mean?”
Hands down one of the most memorable scenes in James Cameron’s Titanic is Kate Winslet’s nude drawing scene. And although the film legitimized her acting career, Winslet sometimes regrets having agreed to that scene. To this day, Winslet claims that people still approach her on the street asking her to sign the film’s nude drawing.
“I don’t sign that [picture]. It feels very uncomfortable. Why would you do that? People ask me to sign that [picture] a lot… I’m like, ‘No! I didn’t mean for it to be a photograph that I would end up still seeing 17 years later,'” she explained.
If she could go back, it seems that Winslet wouldn’t avoid the boat altogether, but would definitely turn down Jack’s offer to draw her like one of his French girls.
Natalie Portman, albeit nervous, was not necessarily opposed to on-screen nudity. But after her naked scenes ended up all over adult websites, the actress felt much more opinionated on the issue:
“It really depressed me that half of every review on the film was about the nudity. It made me think I shouldn’t have done it. I’m not prudish about nudity. I think it’s beautiful in films, and sex is such a big part of life. My issue is that I feel it takes something away from what you’re doing when the focus is put on the wrong thing.”
Since then, Portman has vowed to avoid appearing nude in movies. “My picture ended up on p*rn sites, and that’s the dilemma. I just don’t want to do something that will end up as a screen grab on a p*rn site,” she told Elle magazine.
Jennifer Lawrence had to film some pretty intimate scenes for the 2018 spy thriller Red Sparrow. She described going nude as awkward at first, but then empowering:
“There’s one particular scene in the movie where your nightmare comes true from grade school, where you’re standing naked in front of a classroom full of people. So that became a reality, but it actually wasn’t that bad…
Everybody made me feel so comfortable that I probably at a certain point started making everybody else uncomfortable… Because I’d be like, ‘I don’t want the robe. I’m hot. I’m eating.’ Everybody’s like, ‘She needs to cover up.'”
Former protagonist of Showtime’s Weeds, Mary-Louise Parker had a few issues with her character’s onscreen nudity. The actress, who appeared naked on the show relatively frequently, didn’t love every scene that required her to strip down. Parker actually publicly voiced disappointment in a scene that she felt was particularly gratuitous. In the Season 4 finale of Weeds, Parker appears naked in the bath tub for an extended scene. According to Parker, she didn’t find the shot necessary.
“They made it sound like I was like, ‘They made me take my clothes off and chained me to the bathtub,” she said. Parker later clarified her statements, assuring viewers that there were no on-set quarrels. “I was talking about that scene as an example of something I didn’t love as much when I saw it because they kept cutting back and I was naked, but they liked the position of it,” she added.
In fact, Parker enjoys being naked on set. The actress admitted: “I mean, if you know me, it’s like, someone sneezes and I take my clothes off. I’m naked in Esquire in August. I was naked on the set the other day. I’m always naked. I’m naked right now, in fact.”
You probably wouldn’t expect Pamela Anderson, of all people, to admit she regrets all those naked photos and film scenes. But the actress opened up in 2010 about her concerns regarding the racy images that have followed her career. “My children are made fun of because I have posed naked. When you pose, you are not thinking that one day you will have children who will see it,” Anderson admitted.
It appears motherhood has made Anderson a little embarrassed about her choices to pose nude. But that hasn’t stopped Anderson from making that decision again. The model and actress posed nude again for Playboy’s final issue featuring nudity.
Helen Mirren has mixed feelings when it comes to the nude scenes that defined her early film career. In one sense, the scenes haunt Mirren, but the actress still stands by the decisions she made when she was younger. Initially, Mirren recalled thinking “does it really matter? I was doing nude scenes [from] the first moment I started doing movies… It was the era… It seemed to be nothing to get your knickers in a twist over.”
However, Mirren did recall being “afraid. It’s not fun to be on a film set and be one of the only ones naked.” The only film Mirren is positive she does not regret shedding her clothes for is Caligula, her 1979 erotic drama. Her reason? “Everyone was naked in that. It was like showing up for a nudist camp every day. You felt embarrassed if you had your clothes on in that movie.”
Halle Berry’s gritty role in Monster’s Ball won her an Academy Award for Best Actress. But for a lot of viewers, Berry’s very intense sex scene with Billy Bob Thornton comes to mind when thinking of the film. Although Berry doesn’t regret the scene, she doesn’t believe nudity in film is really necessary at all. Discussing her film Swordfish, in which she also appears nude, Berry had this to say:
“I don’t think nudity is ever necessary. I think you can make every single movie and never show anything and it’s fine. I think it’s a choice you make, and it was a bold choice on my part. But it was written in the script and when I was offered the part, I was told, ‘That’s who this girl is and it’s not negotiable to be taken out.'”
Berry said she agreed to the scene because “it showed you that the character was in control of her sexuality and very comfortable with herself.”
Emily Blunt is no prude when it comes to nude scenes. The Hollywood starlet has appeared naked in Henry VIII as well as My Summer of Love. But it also appears that motherhood has changed Blunt’s stance on nudity. Blunt announced that she would no longer film nude scenes or star in violent roles.
“I’m not so keen on doing nudity, because I’m not 22 any more. And actually it’s not so much a moral thing as, ‘I’ve done it before and do I really want to do it again?'” she said.
For the most part, Blunt views nude scenes as gratuitously unnecessary. She added: “Does it serve the film or is it gratuitous and seeing someone’s t*ts for the sake of it? I don’t think it’s necessary most of the time. Also playing violent or racist characters would be hard for me now.”
Game of Thrones’ Natalie Dormer has no regrets when it comes to her on-screen nudity. In fact, she thinks her decision to bare it all has paid off in the long run. Aside from that, Dormer believes the nudity on Thrones is equal between men and woman.
“There’s plenty of male nudity in Game of Thrones, too. Sex is part of life, ergo it’s part of art. If you’re representing real life, then you will represent sex,” she explained.
Dormer has fearlessly defended her nudity on the show. She believes that if “[she] can pay the bills doing the job [she] loves – [her] 16-year-old self would be very content with that. But, of course, your ambitions change.”
Following her career-defining role as Bella Swan in the Twilight series, Kristen Stewart took on a drastically edgier role in a film adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. Stewart was required to appear nude in the scene, and she immediately felt out of her comfort zone. “That was maybe the one day I didn’t feel as free as I did,” she said.
But the actress surprisingly embraced the on-screen nudity to the fullest. “I wasn’t scared, honestly. It’s kind of insane to watch now. I’m like, ‘Who is that?’ But I think – as every actress says when they do this is – it just felt so right. It was so within a different world and so within a different environment that I don’t even really feel – I mean, I am personally connected to it, of course – but it is something outside of myself,” she added.
Stewart concluded by adding that she doesn’t regret the scenes at all. “I have kind of no qualms about it either. I think people are a little uptight.”
Star of the steamy Showtime series The Affair, Ruth Wilson is frequently nude for her racy sex scenes with Dominic West. In an interview with Edit magazine, Wilson both defended and critiqued the use of female nudity on the show:
“I argue this stuff all the time; that these scenes need to be real and they need to have a narrative as much as any other scene. They can’t be purely titillation. They need to move the story forward and the characters forward.”
Wilson isn’t opposed to appearing nude on film, but she won’t do it just because it’s asked of her:
“I have a big concern about how women are treated in the industry generally, and how they have to provide the titillation because penises can’t be seen on screen but breasts can. It’s assumed that women will get their breasts out, and have to get their breasts out, and I balk at that. It’s unnecessary and it’s unfair.”
For Wilson, her role on The Affair can be a double-edged sword, but she is intent on asserting her authority over her nude scenes.
Rebel Wilson has never filmed a nude scene, and as far as she’s concerned, she never will. The actress revealed that when she started filling out paperwork for filming The Brothers Grimsby, “They wanted full-frontal nudity. We write in the contract, specifically ‘No nudity.'”
According to Wilson, the film finally settled on using a burlesque dancer as a body double after a back-and-forth between her and producers. Wilson added that she believes “you want to know that the people [behind the camera] have a certain sensibility and decency. And a lot of times in comedy they’re not those people.”
Olivia Wilde isn’t shy when it comes to her nude scenes. The 32-year-old actress recently went stark naked for a scene on HBO’s Vinyl. And that wasn’t even her first or second time filming in the buff. For the most part, Wilde has laughed off her nude scenes.
Regarding a scene for her movie Third Person, Wilde said that “it’s great now that [she’s] had a baby ‘cause I can look at it now and be like, Yep, that was once the way it was.'” Wilde discussed how filming in Italy made the attitude around the scene much more lighthearted because “they’re way less conservative.” The actress also joked that “not only did [she] have to [film] it again and again and again, but this was a scene in which [she] was running downstairs naked, which no one should ever do on camera.”
Jessica Alba has always been adamant about her stance against on-screen nudity. That’s why when she arrived on the set of Sin City, the actress wasn’t too happy to find out she’d be playing a stripper. Alba is notorious for her “no nudity” clause in her contracts. And her reasoning is pretty point-blank:
“I don’t want my grandparents to see my boobs. That’s it. It would be weird at Christmas. And, I mean, really, if you look at the movies I have done, getting naked would never ‘elevate’ the picture.”
Alba, who primarily stars in blockbuster hits, has a point. And as for her Sin City role? She managed to get by performing as a stripper without ever taking her clothes off.
One of Hollywood’s hottest sex symbols isn’t a big fan of her own status. Fox even left her career-defining role in Transformers after butting heads with director Michael Bay over her objectification. The actress has purportedly put her “sexy” roles behind her, refusing to do any more X-rated scenes. Motherhood has been a primary reason behind Fox’s change of heart:
“There are some good projects I’ve read that are with talented people, talented directors, but the things the women are required to do in the movie are things I can’t have my sons ever know or see.”
Fox once recalled a script she received that she turned down due to her thoughts on nude scenes. “I was offered a project that’s coming out on HBO that centers around the life of a prostitute and it has very graphic sex scenes… and those are things that are degrading to the woman who’s playing the character,” she told interviewers.
Emma Watson has gone back and forth on the idea of doing a nude scene, but overall admitted that yes, she’d go naked for the right film. Watson said it “depends. I’m not getting my kit off any time soon, but it is part of my job.”
Watson added that “[She’s] been saying since [she] was 16 that if it’s the right role and important for character development and the story, then of course [she’d] do it. [She’s] an actress.”
Rachel Bilson nearly gave up her role in The Last Kiss over a nude scene for the film. In an interview with Playboy (of all publications), Bilson discussed her firm beliefs that going nude is not a priority:
“Movies can be sexy or sexual without showing things. It’s almost a deal breaker. The movie was rated R, and they like to put in nudity wherever they can, but I’m pretty strong-willed and believe it can be avoided.”
Christina Hendricks is very confident when it comes to her body. But she doesn’t want her signature curves to define her acting career:
“I’ve always been really comfortable in my skin, but I’m really just a girl who would prefer talking about my acting rather than my body. Not in front of other people, but at home and in front of my husband [actor Geoffrey Arend]. I feel good not wearing clothes.”
Hendricks has expressed frustration before regarding her role on Mad Men. While Hendricks feels her looks have been the focus point of critics’ attention, she would have hoped that they’d realize the irony in their discussion. That’s why the actress steers clear of nude scenes, so as not to stoke the fire.
Lena Dunham is no newbie when it comes to stripping all her clothes for her hit show HBO’s Girls. And while the response has been negative on for a variety of reasons, Dunham has refused to tone down or omit her nude scenes. However, Dunham has admitted that as the show progresses, filming naked has become more and more difficult:
“When I first started the show, I wasn’t in a relationship, no one knew who I was, I was just kind of living for the work. So when I took my clothes off on camera, it was just an extension of that. It didn’t occur to me that in the first season, TV critics and people on the internet would be seeing this. Now, for better or worse, when I take my clothes off, I already can hear the din of the reaction.”
Dunham has been body-shamed for appearing nude on the show, but many also find her scenes overtly gratuitous. But for Dunham, Hannah Horvath’s nakedness is an important part of the show.
Alyssa Milano is no stranger to nude scenes. The actress actively made a point of tarnishing her child actor stardom on Who’s the Boss? by taking on the raciest roles she could find. And today, Milano doesn’t let age hold her back.
The actress recently battled it out with Wendy Williams over public breastfeeding. While Wendy admitted the act made her uncomfortable, Milano criticized the talk show host for ostracizing women for an important part of motherhood. On Twitter, Milano also voiced her thoughts on breastfeeding nudity. “Wait! I don’t get it. No disrespect to Kim… but people are offended by my breastfeeding selfies & are fine with her (amazing) booty cover?”
Milano, who holds no issue when it comes to appearing nude, has tackled the double standards perpetuated by the media’s conversation on the topic.
Emmy Rossum’s role on Showtime’s Shameless calls for a shameless attitude when it comes to her nude scenes. The actress has openly embraced the role… and the nakedness that comes attached to it. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Rossum said:
“I thought it suited the character. This is a very low-income family, they have very thin walls, they don’t have money for entertainment, and this girl likes to have sex. For me to glamify her would be not realistic. I have a lot of control over what I want to show, when I want to show it and when I don’t want to show it.”
Dakota Johnson’s breakout role in 50 Shades of Grey required a unique amount of nude scenes. The film asked Johnson to appear nude in more than several scenes. The actress had no problem with the role (otherwise she wouldn’t have accepted it). Johnson admitted:
“It never is comfortable to be seen like that… because it’s not in a private, or intimate environment.”
But she stands by the scenes that launched her to fame. As for the sequels, Johnson is trying to get producers to show more of her costar and Christian Grey, Jamie Dornan. According to Johnson, she wants to see the “Dornan D.”