Carey Mulligan and Michael Fassbender are just the latest stars to bare all on camera, so we checked out the reasons actors strip off:
For most of us, stripping off in front of a film crew – and knowing millions will ogle our bodies – is the stuff nightmares are made off.
It must be embarrassing, invasive and – because of the internet – ensures your naked form is preserved online forever. Yuck!
Yet many film stars are quite happy to bare all in their films, with Carey Mulligan and Michael Fassbender the latest actors to go nude for sex addiction drama ‘Shame’ (out this week).
The question is: Why do they do it?
Reason 1: The part is so good
A common complaint from stars (especially female ones) is a lack of interesting roles. So when complex and meaty parts do emerge actors grab them with both hands, even if nudity is involved.
Take Rooney Mara, who was naked throughout ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’, but bagged a Golden Globes nomination for her troubles. She told Cinema Blend: “After I read the books, I knew I had to do it. I couldn’t imagine my life without doing it… Nudity is such a huge part of the character in the book, so I never thought twice about it.”
Carey Mulligan said she was “staunchly feminist” about naked scenes, but changed her mind for ‘Shame’. She told W magazine: “[For this film] I just felt it was absolutely right; that’s exactly who she was. She wanted to be seen, she’s an exhibitionist and she’s provocative.”
More mainstream stars who bared all to appear in choice projects include Kate Winslet, for ‘Titanic’, Michelle Williams, for ‘Blue Valentine’ and Harvey Keitel, for mad cop drama ‘Bad Lieutenant’.
Reason 2: To work with a respected director
Similarly, sometimes the chance to work with a world-famous director will push stars into raunchier roles.
The classic example is ‘Bond’ girl Eva Green, who was reticent about starring in ‘The Dreamers’ but was eager to work with world famous ‘Last Tango in Paris’ director Bernardo Bertolucci.
“I’m very reserved in real life,” she told The Guardian. “But when Bertolucci asks you to do a movie, you do it. Nudity is just another costume. Perverts might think otherwise.”
Speaking to the Salon, Charlotte Gainsborough said she had never done nudity before working on Lars Von Trier’s provocative film ‘Antichrist’, but was persuaded to take her clothes off because of him. “I think his films are really personal. He’s giving the [good] parts to women.”
Reason 3: They have a relaxed attitude
Ewan McGregor is one of the few mainstream male film stars to embrace full frontal nudity in many of his films and he seems to have a much more relaxed attitude than most of his contemporaries.
He told Out magazine: “I always try not to limit myself in all respects. Sexuality is just one of them. I could understand saying ‘I would never do gratuitous nudity.’ Wait. No. I probably would. I’d probably be quite happy to!”
Reason 4: They are just starting out
Before film stars reach A-list status they can’t be as picky about the roles they take, which is why so many stars went nude early in their careers.
For example Katie Holmes’ choice of movie roles was limited after leaving ‘Dawson’s Creek’, so she took a part in trashy whodunit ‘The Gift’, nude scenes and all.
Emily Blunt’s breakthrough role in ‘My Summer of Love’ saw her strip for lesbian sequences, but luckily for her it launched her career.
Angelina Jolie told ‘Inside the Actor’s Studio’ that it wasn’t comfortable shooting a sequence which saw her run to an elevator naked in 1998 made-for-TV movie ‘Gia’. Nonetheless, her critically lauded performance set her on the road for superstardom. These days she doesn’t need to agree to scenes like this.
Reason 5: To change people’s perceptions
This is the other extreme; the stars who seek out raunchier roles later in life to change how they are seen by audiences.
Jennifer Aniston is a classic example. Her ‘girl-next-door’ shtick began to wear thin after one-too-many rom-coms, so the former ‘Friends’ megastar has begun to take sexier parts that require her to strip off, firstly ‘Horrible Bosses’ and the upcoming ‘Wanderlust’ – which reportedly has a topless scene.
Speaking of ‘Horrible Bosses’, she said: “[I] thought it would be a fun challenge and to step out of what people usually like to see me play… The risk made it fun.”
Even weirder is Julie Andrews, who went topless (aged 46) for comedy flick ‘S.O.B’. She told Variety: “Since I’m not Mary Poppins or Maria (Von Trapp) – contrary to some people’s beliefs – I am an actress, and it was a lovely challenge to take on something fresh.” Which leads us to…
Reason 6: It will be funny
One of the most memorable nude scenes of recent times was in ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’, which saw Jason Segel get dumped in the buff. While doing press for the film, he said: “I got dumped naked in real life once, and it was the funniest thing that ever happened to me, so I knew I had to put it in the movie.”
Luckily “male nudity enthusiast” producer Judd Apatow agreed.
Reason 7: The money
Halle Berry said she did the famous topless scene in ‘Swordfish’ to overcome her fear of appearing nude onscreen. “I knew it was gratuitous. And I did it because I needed to do it,” she said. It was rumoured producers requested it to generate some publicity.
However the extra £320,000 she was reportedly paid on top of her £1.3 million fee would probably have swung the deal…
And the reason for not stripping off…
Finally, let’s hear some common sense from Sir Michael Caine, who famously advises young actors against going nude, because “Bogart never did it…that used to be my excuse.”
He said: “Acting is about control, and once you’re naked you have no control over where the audience is looking… or what they’re thinking!”
Do you agree with Sir Michael? Let us know in the comments below.