Hollywood Leading Men Who Were Not Afraid To Bare All In Movies
By Sophia Maddox | May 24, 2023
Christian Bale in American Psycho
Welcome to our captivating slideshow exploring the dedication of renowned actors who fearlessly embrace the demands of their craft, delving into challenging roles that push the boundaries of vulnerability and authenticity. Throughout cinematic history, actors such as Brad Pitt, Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, and Daniel Radcliffe have mesmerized audiences with their unwavering commitment to their characters.
Join us as we delve into the captivating performances that showcase these actors' unwavering dedication, reminding us of the transformative power of cinema. Continue reading to discover the remarkable journeys these actors embark upon in pursuit of their artistic vision.
Christian Bale's uninhibited portrayal in American Psycho foreshadowed his love of conveying emotions through his physicality, pushing boundaries throughout his illustrious career. A prime example of this is the unforgettable sex scene where he flexes in front of the mirror while he's going to town. Surprisingly, this mesmerizing and extra-memeable moment was entirely improvised by Bale, a testament to his commitment to his craft and his ability to seize opportunities for self-expression even in the heat of filming. This scene stands as a remarkable testament to Bale's willingness to explore the depths of his characters and make them authentically come alive on screen.
Brad Pitt In 12 Monkeys
Brad Pitt received critical acclaim for his role in the film Twelve Monkeys, which earned him a nomination for the Best Actor in a Supporting Role category at the 1996 Oscars. In a notable scene, Pitt exposed his backside, showcasing his commitment to the character, something that proves that he's more than a pretty face.
Chris Pine in Outlaw King
Chris Pine had no problems disrobing in the 2018 film Outlaw King. In a short scene, Pine steps out of the water of a pristine lake in nothing but his birthday suit. If you watch the movie you'll see that it's not a big deal, but at the time it's all people wanted to talk about. Pine later told The Guardian:
People were giggling about my penis as if they were school children. I think it’s maybe the dying embers of this Calvinistic idea that self-flagellating and shame and anger and violence is all good and yet sex and intimacy, making love is bad. And that manifests in us all giggling about a penis – it’s so stupid.
Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights
In the film Boogie Nights, the character Dirk Diggler bares all, multiple times. Like, a lot of times. However, it should be noted that actor Mark Wahlberg utilized a prosthetic for the final scene where he shows everything. The prosthetic was reportedly crafted from plaster and accompanied by a specially dyed pubic wig designed to match Wahlberg's hair. The star explained the rigorous process of getting ready for the scene:
I show up at basically this prosthetic effects house in the valley, I have to stand there and take off my clothes, and they start basically sculpting this thing around you. It's very uncomfortable, very awkward. The first time that they did it, they did the exact same specs as what they thought [porn star] John Holmes was like....this thing was like down past my knee, and literally, it was pretty flaccid.
Shia LeBeouf in Nymphomaniac Volumes 1 & 2
Similar to Daniel Radcliffe, Shia LaBeouf began his career as an adorable child actor, often seen as the endearing younger brother figure. Over time, LaBeouf underwent a transformation, evolving into a prominent movie star with artistic sensibilities.
One such choice was his participation in a music video for the Icelandic band Sigur Rós. The video for "Fjögur Píanó" showed the former Transformers actor completely and literally in the wind, baring everything he has to offer. LaBeouf followed that video up with a role in the Lars Von Trier two-part arthouse film Nymphomaniac Volume 1 & 2 where he somehow managed to go even further than he did in the Sigur Rós video. He's nothing if not committed.
Daniel Radcliffe in Horns, The F Word, Kill Your Darlings, and Equus
It doesn't matter what Daniel Radcliffe does he's always going to be seen as the boy who lived (or Harry Potter if you prefer). That’s why the world looked up and took notice when he went full frontal on stage during performances of Equus. After showing his bod off to the world onstage he continued throwing off his clothes in films like Horns, The F Word, and Kill Your Darlings. While speaking with The Independent about his discussions for another disrobing scene in A Young Doctor's Notebook he said:
I got naked in three films last year, please can I not? At some point, everyone’s going to start assuming I’m an exhibitionist.
Matt Damon in Behind The Candelabra
Matt Damon is usually one of Hollywood’s more conservative actors when it comes to his appearance on film, but when he appeared as Scott Thorson, the lover of Liberace, in Behind the Candelabra he decided to go all out. He explained:
Normally I’d say no to [these scenes], but I just did a lot of it playing the long-term partner of Liberace, Scott Thorson. I mean, it’s tastefully done. Steven Soderbergh directed it, and Michael Douglas plays Liberace. But this movie’s not going to be for everyone.
Harvey Keitel in Bad Lieutenant
Harvey Keitel delivers a riveting and unflinching performance in Bad Lieutenant, showcasing his immense talent in portraying the morally conflicted and deeply flawed titular character with haunting intensity. In a 2005 interview with Premiere magazine, Keitel said of his history of stripping down on camera:
An actor doesn’t do [unclothed) scenes. An actor plays an event and tells a story. It’s not about nudity, it’s about revelations. So if anyone wants to discuss nudity with me they can forget about it because it’s not relevant. Any of my colleagues that I know would go all the way, just the way I did. I’m no exception. I just happened to have that part at the time.
Jason Segel in Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Jason Segel's mega-embarrassing full-frontal scene in Forgetting Sarah Marshall where he gets broken up with was never off the table. According to Segel he was all about it. He said:
I thought that was hilarious. I was actually not very uncomfortable doing it. I really felt free. You have to put it in the context that this was 2006, 2007, and this hadn't been done before, in my recollection, where the main guy was going to be naked in the first five minutes of the movie.
Segel also said that his wife sent out an email to the family before the film premiered:
I would like to inform you all that Jason has chosen to do full frontal nudity, however, it is not gratuitous and is essential to the plot.
Mark Rylance in Intimacy
In 2001, actor Mark Rylance appeared in the film Intimacy alongside Kerry Fox, prior to his collaborations with Steven Spielberg. The film gained attention for featuring a notable scene in which Fox engaged in unsimulated sex with Rylance. This scene generated controversy and criticism, causing Rylance to later express regret for his involvement in the film due to the challenges it posed in dealing with the ensuing backlash. He later said of the film:
Intimacy was the most difficult job I've ever had. I was convinced it was a vital story about the difficulties people face finding intimacy in a big city like London. Hanif Kureishi's writing couldn't have been more intimate and revealing, but I found the making of the film and the subsequent publicity and personal attacks very, very painful. I wish I hadn't made it.
Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna in Y Tu Mama Tambien
Y Tu Mama Tambien is often recognized as one of the most provocative films in mainstream cinema, earning a reputation for its explicit content. In line with the film's exploration of sexuality, actors Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna embraced full frontal nudity in their portrayals of two teenage boys embarking on a sensual road trip alongside an older woman
Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting
Ewan McGregor is known for slapping off his clothes every chance he gets in a film, most notable he bares all in Trainspotting, where he plays a heroin addict struggling to stay clean, and Velvet Goldmine, where he takes on the role of an unbridled rock star who does whatever he wants. In both films he throws his pants off with reckless abandon. Clearly he's not worried about what people think.
Cillian Murphy in 28 Days Later
The 2002 zombie film quickly achieved status as a beloved horror classic, yet one particular scene captured the attention of viewers—a pivotal moment involving actor Cillian Murphy. In this scene, Murphy's character awakens completely unclothed in a hospital bed during the chaos of a zombie outbreak. While Murphy has not openly discussed his thoughts on his nude scene in 28 Days Later, he later expressed a reluctance to address it during interviews, a sentiment he maintained even after performing nude scenes again in the television series Peaky Blinders.
James McAvoy in The Last King of Scotland
In the drama film portraying Ugandan President Idi Amin, actor James McAvoy portrayed the role of Amin's doctor, which included a scene where his character emerges from bed, briefly revealing full-frontal nudity. Although McAvoy did not directly discuss his lack of clothing in the film, he did open up about experiencing anxiety during the filming of the movie's intimate scenes, saying:
It's very nerve-wracking and scary and my biggest fear is that you're going to make [the actress in the sex scene] think you're getting off on it and you're getting your kicks, which is my biggest angst as an actor.
Ralph Fiennes in A Bigger Splash
If you've seen A Bigger Splash by Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino, then you've seen Voldemort without his evil robes on. That's right, Ralph Fiennes bares all in this movie and he makes no bones about it. He told Australia's Daily Telegraph:
Well, yes, I like to look fairly in shape. I knew I was going to be nude and so I was working out, but I was also exercising beforehand. I like to keep fit. I do a bit of yoga and general workout stuff.
Viggo Mortensen in Eastern Promises
When Viggo Mortensen strips down in Eastern Promises for a relaxing moment in a Turkish bath the last thing he expects is to get into a knife fight, but that's exactly what happens. He later explained the scene:
I'm just glad it was shot in two days and not six as it was initially written. Honestly, though, it took me all of about eight seconds to decide whether to do the scene naked.... It was slippery, painful, embarrassing. You see what you see. I always knew the scene should be as realistic as the rest of the movie, so I couldn't feasibly keep the towel on.
Robert De Niro in The Deer Hunter
In The Deer Hunter, there is a memorable scene that encapsulates the unbridled spirit of Robert De Niro's character, Mike, and his group of friends before they embark on the life-altering journey of the Vietnam War. Following a wedding celebration where the alcohol flows freely, Mike's inhibitions fade away, leading him to shed his clothing and embark on an exhilarating run through the streets. This uninhibited display of freedom serves as a stark reminder of the stark contrast that war inevitably brings. It showcases the stark transformation that takes place as these friends transition from carefree moments to the harsh realities of combat, highlighting the profound impact that war can have on the human spirit and the profound changes it can bring upon individuals.
Peter Sarsgaard in Kinsey
After baring all in Kinsey Peter Sarsgaard had this to say:
It didn't feel like anything. I mean, if I always thought about the people on the other end of the camera — as if it were like a tube going to audiences all over the world — then I wouldn't be able to act anyway. This was just a room filled with four people and it seemed appropriate for the scene. The reason I'm [sans clothes] is to test the waters before I [kiss Dr. Kinsey, played by Liam Neeson] later in the scene. It had a purpose. It's not nudity for you guys, it's nudity for him.
Ben Affleck in Gone Girl
During a brief scene in the film, actor Ben Affleck can be seen showering, showcasing a realistic portrayal of male nudity that could have been easily omitted from the final cut, but director David Fincher kept it in. Affleck's commitment to authenticity is commendable in this regard. Affleck said:
[It's] in there. It costs extra. It's IMAX [genitals]! You have to pay 15 bucks to see it in 3D. It looks better in 3D. You should know it was very cold.... It was freezing. It was subzero.
Kevin Bacon in Wild Things
You wouldn't think that a scene of Kevin Bacon stepping out of the shower and wrapping himself in a towel would be a big deal, but people flipped out when they saw this in theaters in 1998. The actor later said that he didn't think the scene would make so many waves:
I honestly really didn’t think about it. I said, 'If that’s the shot, that’s the shot that works, it’s okay.' I just didn’t think it was going to be such a big deal. It wasn’t until we got to the press junket for the film that every single question, every single person asked me about it. By the way, when [we] got to the European press, nobody asked me about it.
Richard Gere in American Gigolo
It makes sense that Richard Gere would be dropping trow as the titular gigolo in American Gigolo, and to hear him tell it he didn't think it was a big deal. He said:
If I recall, it wasn't in the script. It was just in the natural process of making the movie. I certainly felt vulnerable, but I think it's different for men than women.
Jude Law in The Talented Mr. Ripley
Jude Law has a blink and you'll miss it full frontal scene in The Talented Mr. Ripley that reveals... well not much. That sounds rude, but we literally mean that the scene is filmed from such an odd angle (and with a chess board as a shield) that you have to use context clues if you've come to this film for something more than stellar acting and a thrilling plotline.
Tom Hardy in Bronson
Actor Tom Hardy is known for frequently appearing in the buff throughout his filmography. While he does showcase his bod in the film Bronson, he gained significant recognition for his nude portrayal in the television show Taboo. Interestingly, those scenes were unexpectedly removed from the series, leaving him disappointed. He said:
You’re lucky there was a loin cloth because I didn’t want one. It’s not a period drama until someone gets naked and covers themselves in blood... I was in Tilbury, in the moat, in the docks, with nothing on. We were trying to eke out drama from any opportunity and none of that makes the cut.
Bruce Willis in Color of Night
This erotic thriller was nearly slapped with the kiss of death for films going to theaters, the NC-17 rating, because of some seriously intense scenes featuring Bruce Willis. Entertainment Weekly says of the decision:
These were intense sex scenes. If Bruce Willis had stepped out of a shower and was toweling himself, or was reaching for a telephone and there was a fleeting glimpse of [his body], [the rating] would probably be an R. But if you’re shown totally naked and screwing somebody on a bed, that’s something else.
Michael Fassbender in Shame
Michael Fassbender bares it all over and over again in Shame, the film about a man struggling with sex addiction. While Fassbender says that it was a little awkward to be constantly unclothed he wasn't totally put off by the experience. He said:
I was self-conscious, for sure, but it was something I had to get over very quickly. Those scenes are really where you get an insight into the guy's psyche. When you see him naked, it's in more ways than one. I had to be on the ball and not thinking about those things. And you try to make sure that your partner in the scene is comfortable.
Colin Farrell in A Home at the End of the World
Colin Farrell's early career was all about his identity as the bad lad from Ireland, but that doesn't mean that he was dropping his pants every time he was on set. In fact, he didn't go full frontal until 2004's A Home at the End of the World and even then the scene was pretty short. Farrell said of baring it all in this film:
No, it’s nothing, man. I walk to a door and you see my [parts], and I walk out of the shot. It’s dark, and it’s three inches, uh, seconds long.
Mark Ruffalo in In the Cut
Mark Ruffalo, who most audiences know as the bumbling scientist Bruce Banner, aka The Hulk, bared all in 2003's In the Cut, long before he was picked up by the MCU. While speaking about the role Ruffalo noted that writer/director Jane Campion had a very specific idea of how she wanted things to go down. He said:
[Campion] wanted the character to be such a competent and confident lover that she kept shouting things like, 'You’re not at school anymore. You know what you’re doing.' It was very stressful.
But it wasn't just Campion who was stressing out Ruffalo, his scene partner Meg Ryan freaked him out as well:
I was scared. I was really scared. And she was with Russell Crowe. All I could think of is 'what am I going to be like compared to Russell Crowe?'
Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain
The release of Brokeback Mountain in 2005, featuring Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger, created significant excitement and anticipation. This movie, depicting the heartfelt love story between two sheep herders in Wyoming, delved into the depths of affection. Notably, in the Australian and European versions of the film, there exists a scene where Ledger appears fully unclothed. It was initially planned that director Ang Lee would exclude any explicit scenes from the final cut. However, due to the unauthorized release of paparazzi photos revealing Ledger's bod, Lee decided to retain the scene in the film (although a body double was used for Gyllenhaal's character).
Ken Jeong In The Hangover Films
Comedic actor Ken Jeong gained significant attention and laughter by showcasing his body in the first Hangover film, where he unexpectedly emerged from a trunk fully nude. However, it seems that one instance was not sufficient for the actor known for his role in Dr. Ken, as he went on to make two more appearances without help from the wardrobe department. Jeong's good-natured demeanor and willingness to bare it all indicate his understanding that such comedic moments can generate uproarious laughs from the audience.
Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange is full of harrowing sequences of violence, but one of the most inhumane moments in the film occurs when Alex (played by Malcom McDowell) is arrested and has his clothes removed before he's violently searched by the police. McDowell goes for it in this scene and puts himself out there. It's a shocking level of commitment from an actor, even for the 1970s, and it's a brief scene that shows why McDowell was one of the most exciting actors of his generation.
Edward Norton in American History X
In the intense prison shower fight scene from the iconic film American History X, Edward Norton's raw vulnerability is prominently displayed as he engages in a brutal confrontation. Stripped of all barriers, both figuratively and literally, Norton fearlessly bares himself physically, exposing his character's inner turmoil and the harsh realities of his surroundings. This pivotal moment captures the essence of his performance, conveying the depths of desperation, determination, and self-discovery within the narrative, without the veil of clothing. The scene resonates as a powerful testament to Norton's acting prowess and his commitment to portraying the complex emotions of his character.
Bradley Cooper in Nightmare Alley
Bradley Cooper says that while filming 2021's Nightmare Alley he not only had a scene where he was fully unclothed, but that scene was filmed on co-star Toni Collette's first day on set. He told KCRW:
I can still remember that day, just to be naked in front of the crew for six hours, and it was Toni Collette’s first day. It was just like, ‘Whoa.’ It was pretty heavy... The content of what the movie is, what we were exploring, in order to do it in a real way, it demanded that we’d be naked emotionally and soulfully.
Oscar Isaac in Scenes From A Marriage
While discussing his very personal scenes in HBO's Scene From a Marriage Oscar Isaac told the hosts of The View:
I was surprised because I didn’t know that was going to happen. You get sent the stuff to look at and be like, ‘Okay, I’m fine with that.’ I saw it on a laptop quite dark, and I didn’t notice what was happening down there. There was a surprise when I started seeing these things of like, ‘It’s full frontal.’ I’m like, no! What are you talking about? Then I saw, clear as day on the big TV there. It’s there for everyone.
Leonardo DiCaprio in Wolf Of Wall Street
In Wolf of Wall Street Leonardo DiCaprio does it all. He gets high, he slams drinks, he throws shellfish, and yeah, he takes off all his clothes. While speaking with Extra upon the release of the film he was very open about how he didn't use a body double. He said:
It was all me, pal. All the flopping around, it was all me... Look, when you do a character like this, you have to go all out. You can’t pull any punches. You have to swing for the fences. You just gotta do it. You can’t think about yourself because it’s not me. It’s a depiction of somebody else… Hopefully people enjoy it.
Antonio Banderas in Law of Desire And So Many More
Antonio Banderas has consistently exhibited a boldness in embracing his body on-camera, fearlessly showcasing his physique in films such as False Eyelash, Baton Rouge, and Law of Desire. In the latter that he engages in a passionate and provocative love scene alongside actor Eusebio Poncela. However, Banderas faced significant criticism and controversy for his involvement in this particular scene. Despite the backlash, Banderas's willingness to delve into intense and intimate moments demonstrates his dedication to his craft and his commitment to exploring the depths of his characters. He told Page Six:
I felt very early on in my professional life that where there were limits, there shouldn’t have been limits. I remember in Law of Desire, where I played a homosexual, that people were more upset that I kissed a man on the mouth than I killed a man. It’s a very interesting approach to morality in our days, so you see there is an incredible amount of hypocritical judgment over those things.
Thomas Haden Church in Sideways
In the film Sideways, there is a memorable scene where Thomas Haden Church's character, Jack, returns to the motel room he shares with Paul Giamatti's character, Miles, following a night of hooking up with a waitress and the subsequent confrontation with her husband. As Church enters the room, the weight of his actions and the consequences of his choices are palpable, reflected in his disheveled appearance, tense demeanor, and complete lack of clothing. It's both hilarious and mortifying.
This pivotal moment captures the complex mix of guilt, regret, and vulnerability that Church portrays with remarkable authenticity. It serves as a turning point in the narrative, exposing the complexities of human relationships and the repercussions of impulsive decisions.
Adam Goldberg in 2 Days In Paris
In the film 2 Days in Paris, there is a scene that captures a deeply revealing moment for actor Adam Goldberg's character. In this particular instance, a Polaroid photograph unveils Goldberg with a collection of colorful balloons playfully tied around his naked body. The scene strikes a delicate balance between embarrassment and humanity, offering a glimpse into the vulnerability and quirks that make us uniquely human.
Oliver Reed and Alan Bates in Women in Love
Newly released archive correspondence from the British Board of Film Censors (BBFC) has unveiled a secret agreement between director Ken Russell and the board regarding the contentious nude wrestling scene in the 1969 film Women in Love. This revelation sheds light on the secret pact formed with the BBFC's chief censor, John Trevelyan, allowing the scene to be released without any major alterations. In this groundbreaking moment, actors Oliver Reed and Alan Bates engaged in a naked, writhing display by the fireplace, presenting viewers with a significant exposure to full frontal nudity in British cinemas for the first time.
To navigate this delicate situation, Russell, along with producer Larry Kramer, extended invitations to Trevelyan for lunch, ensuring his involvement at every stage of the creative process. As concerns arose about the scene's homosexual undertones, Trevelyan requested discreet handling, prompting Kramer to offer a compromise of dimming the lighting during the controversial sequence. This revelation uncovers the intriguing behind-the-scenes negotiations that allowed this pivotal scene to remain intact.
Giovanni Ribisi in SubUrbia
In Richard Linklater's Suburbia the name of the game is post-collegiate dissatisfaction. Played to the hilt by star Giovanni Ribisi and an eclectic supporting cast, the characters spend their evenings hanging out at a convenient store, drinking, and talking about life. There's a realism in this film that helps immensely when Ribisi, in the middle of a drunken rant, pulls down his pants, moons everyone and then takes it all off while strutting around with everything on full display.
Vincent Gallo in The Brown Bunny
The 2003 experimental road film The Brown Bunny gained notable attention for a controversial sex scene involving writer, director, and lead actor Vincent Gallo and actress Chloë Sevigny. While Gallo's decision to expose himself generated less controversy, the focus primarily fell on Sevigny's choice to engage in the unsimulated scene, stirring significant discussion and debate. Sevigny said of the response to the scene:
It's a shame people write so many things when they haven't seen it. When you see the film, it makes more sense. It's an art film. It should be playing in museums. It's like an Andy Warhol movie.