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Top 11 Nudity in Movies

Updated on July 5, 2016

TOP 11

Basic Instinct (1992)
Basic Instinct (1992)
Eyes Wide Shut' (1999)
Eyes Wide Shut' (1999)
'Pola X' (1999)
'Pola X' (1999)
'Baise-Moi' (2000)
'Baise-Moi' (2000)
'The Center of the World' (2001)
'The Center of the World' (2001)
'Intimacy' (2001)
'Intimacy' (2001)
'Y Tu Mamá También' (2001)
'Y Tu Mamá También' (2001)
'The Dreamers' (2003)
'The Dreamers' (2003)
'9 Songs' (2004)
'9 Songs' (2004)
'Blue Is the Warmest Color' (2013)
'Blue Is the Warmest Color' (2013)
 Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)

Do Nude Scenes Help or Hinder an Actress’s Career?

Whilst there are some actresses for whom taking their clothes of is just another unavoidable aspect of the job of movie making, for others a ‘no nudity’ clause is an essential before they’ll sign up for a movie… until their career starts to fade into obscurity that is.

Interestingly, some of these differences appear to be cultural. British and non-American actresses tend to have a very different approach to stripping off in their movies than their American counterparts.

Baring All for the Movies

“...I never like them when they’ve got bras on.” Keira Knightley told People Magazine referring to love making scenes after appearing topless in the movie ‘Edge of Love’. It seems a down to earth, pragmatic response. Her job is to make people who watch her movies believe that what they are seeing is real. In real life people make love with their clothes off.

Reese Witherspoon on the other hand told UK Glamour Magazine, "If actresses take their clothes off, they objectify themselves… I am flabbergasted by how many legitimate actresses do it." Seemingly forgetting she appeared topless in a film called ‘Twilight’ in 1998 and insulting all other actresses who have disrobed by not being able to tell the difference between appearing 'au natural' in 'American Pie' and appearing without any clothes on in 'Monster’s Ball'.

Maybe Reese believes that in the real world every woman does actually keep their bra on when they’re making love. Like Sarah Jessica Parker, another 'no-nudity' actress, who must have the most serious bra marks after never removing hers through six series and a movie version of 'Sex and the City'.

Actresses Who Take Their Clothes Off and Those Who Don’t

The pattern is consistent when considering the careers of some of the most popular non-American actresses of recent years. Kate Winslet (The Reader), Nicole Kidman (Cold Mountain), Charlize Theron (Monster) Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener) and Helena Bonham Carter (Fight Club) have all regularly disrobed for the camera whereas Kate Beckinsale prefers to keep her clothes on.

In the American corner the trend is reversed, Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johanssen, Sandra Bullock and Cameron Diaz remain coy. Jennifer Aniston has flirted with baring her body (The Good Girl) whereas Angelina Jolie has appeared stripped off in a number of roles, including one of her best performances as 'Gia'.

Some of this difference in attitudes can be attributed to the types of movies that these actresses choose to make. The non-Americans, generally speaking, opt for more realistic grittier roles and with more realism comes less clothes. The top American actresses favour the bigger budget, Hollywood type roles, where the rom-com rules. Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Aniston may maintain their modesty, but ironically at what price to their acting credentials. They have all been at their best when they’ve strayed from the rom-com path (except Cameron Diaz in Gangs of New York).

British actresses have more than likely grown up with British television where seeing the unclothed human form in quality dramas is commonplace and they don’t necessarily see the question of whether to strip off as a career choice, as in the case of some young American actresses, but more of whether it’s a realistic necessity in terms of the role.

To Strip, or Not to Strip

But does taking their clothes off for a movie help, or hinder an actress’s career?

Halle Berry bared her acting soul and her body in ‘Monster’s Ball’ and won an Oscar as did Charlize Theron (Monster) and Kate Winslet (The Reader).

In fact since 1990, of the 20 actresses who won the Academy Award for Best Actress, only Julia Roberts hasn’t appeared naked in a movie.

On the other hand, in the Forbes 2009 list of top 100 celebrities between 2008/2009, Angelina Jolie comes in at number one with Jennifer Anniston, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cameron Diaz, Reece Witherspoon and Sandra Bullock all making the list. The Brits in the buff just don't figure.

Which probably suggests that, apart from Angelina who seems to be able to successfully do both, actresses who want critical acclaim shouldn’t be scared to bare – provided it’s not simply for titillation purposes. But those who simply want to be movie stars should keep their bras on, their shirts buttoned and stick to the fantasy flirtations of unrealistic romantic comedies.


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