Hollywood Stars Who Shed Their Inhibitions on the Big Screen
In the golden age of Hollywood, actresses were often celebrated for their demure and ladylike personas, carefully crafted to appeal to a mass audience. However, as time went on and societal norms began to shift, more and more actresses began to push boundaries and bare it all on screen, challenging traditional notions of femininity and sexuality. From Marlene Dietrich's provocative performances in the 1930s to the bold and fearless portrayals of modern-day stars like Elizabeth Berkley and Jennifer Connelly, these women have fearlessly used their bodies to tell stories, challenge norms, and break barriers.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the actresses who have dared to bear it all on screen. From Golden Age stars like Brigitte Bardot and Jayne Mansfield to modern-day icons like Cate Blanchett and Halle Berry, these women have used their bodies as a powerful tool to convey raw emotion, expose societal taboos, and push the boundaries of what is acceptable on screen. So if you're ready to delve deeper into the world of fearless and boundary-breaking actresses, read on and discover the stories behind some of the most iconic scenes in film history.
''That is suggesting that David Lynch used me or photographed me badly to ruin my reputation. I resent that because first of all I think it would hurt his feelings. But also it takes away from me, from my judgment. It says that I'm so helpless that a director can make me do something I don't want to do. I'm not a kid. I understood the film. It's beyond that - I loved it.'
Katie Holmes' performance in the 2000 thriller The Gift was nothing short of titillating. Holmes plays Jessica King, a troubled young woman who seeks the help of a psychic to uncover the truth behind a series of mysterious events. One of the most memorable moments in the film features Holmes in a racy and intense love scene with her co-star Greg Kinnear. Some audiences were big fans of Holmes' decision to forego a top, while others found it gratuitous. Whether you choose to fast forward or not, The Gift is worth a watch, as it is often sadly overlooked despite its stellar cast and tight budget.
Johansson said that the complete freedom of this strange character is what drew her to making the film. In 2014, she told The Guardian:
I heard Jonathan [Glazer, the film's director] was making a film and originally it was a very different story. But I met him, and it was very clear that he was struggling to figure out what he was doing with it, and what had attracted him to it. It wasn't his passion project but there was something in the idea of having a character that was an alien that could give him the freedom to be completely observant without any judgment. I think we were both interested in that. I thought it would be incredibly challenging to play a character that's free of judgment, that has no relationship to any emotion I could relate to.
Miss Bellucci's unforgettable performance in Gaspar Noe's film, Irreversible, is a tour-de-force of emotional depth and raw vulnerability. The film is undeniably brutal, and it leaves an indelible impression on audiences with its unflinching depiction of violence and trauma. Nevertheless, Miss Bellucci's performance was a revelation, a testament to her talent and range as an actress.
She was fearless and completely committed to her role, never shying away from the harrowing scenes that the film demanded of her. Her performance was nothing short of stunning, and it solidified her reputation as a true force to be reckoned with in the world of cinema. While speaking with Entertainment Weekly about her openness to appear onscreen with no clothes she explained:
I think that when [scenes with no clothing are] well filmed, it’s beautiful. In Brotherhood, my character is a prostitute, a courtesan. In the beginning, when you see her in a love scene and she’s naked, it’s filmed to look like a painting, so there it’s in very good taste… One reason that I’m comfortable with [these scenes] is because I come from Europe, and I have a good relation with my body. Europeans are different, even in the way we lay on the beach [without suits]. Why do we have to be scared? [The human body] is pure; if not, why were Michelangelo and Raffaello so interested in it?
Juno Temple's career began in 1997 as a child actor, yet her talents soon transcended her age. As she grew into adult roles, Temple fearlessly took on indie films where she showcased her versatility and commitment to her art. In Little Birds and Killer Joe, Temple displayed courage and dedication to her craft beyond her years by baring it all, and showing a willingness to push boundaries in order to bring her characters to life. Through her work, she has proven herself to be a gifted actress with a bright future ahead.
The incomparable Dame Helen Mirren, now in her seventy-seventh year, attained her celebrated status by fearlessly performing intimate scenes onscreen. In 1969's Age of Consent, Mirren shed her garments, and again in 1979's Caligula. The accomplished actress continued to enchant viewers in subsequent productions, such as the 2003 film Calendar Girls, where she unabashedly displayed her exquisite form. Her impressive resume boasts no less than twenty-eight scenes in which she bared her all, an impressive feat for any performer, as she has undressed in every decade from 1960 to 2010.
In the 2013 film Lovelace, Amanda Seyfried plays real-life adult star Linda Lovelace, whose rise to fame and subsequent fall from grace shocked the world in the 1970s. Despite the film's controversial subject matter, Seyfried's performance was widely praised for its sensitivity and depth. She portrayed Lovelace as a complex and multifaceted figure, struggling to reconcile her public persona with her private desires and emotions. For Seyfried, there was no hesitation about the racier aspects of Lovelace:
" There would have been hesitation had it been some other director. Had it been a poorly written script I wouldn’t have done it. The script was perfect and the directors were already attached and that was all I needed... So that was a package that was already put together and after I met them with their whole bag of tricks I was like, “I feel safe. I feel like this is going to be very quality. I don’t know who’s going to see it, I don’t know what’s going to happen when it comes out, but I know I will have an incredible personal experience making this movie.”"
The stunning Brigitte Bardot, a French icon and a woman of great beauty, starred in the erotic drama film Don Juan, or If Don Juan Were a Woman directed by the famed Roger Vadim. Bardot plays a character who, like the legendary Don Juan, takes pleasure in the destruction of men who have succumbed to her seductive powers. Bardot's alluring presence and fearless portrayal of a woman who is both empowered and destructive captivated audiences and cemented her place as one of the greatest actresses of her time. Don Juan, or If Don Juan Were a Woman was a daring and provocative film that pushed the boundaries of conventional cinema and showcased the immense talent of Bardot. Vadim later said of Bardot's role in the film:
My attitude to women is accepted today in a way that it wasn't when I started out as director. But today women overreact – they pretend to be free on an intellectual and sexual level but because of our Christian traditions sex is always associated with guilt. Now however it's possible for a woman to have the same relationship with sex as a man – a man who is a lover can be a Don Juan whereas women like that were always considered whores or femmes faciles (easy women)... A female Don Juan can exist nowadays without a sense of guilt.
Jamie Lee Curtis
The captivating Jamie Lee Curtis was known for her roles in horror films such as Halloween and The Fog, but it was her captivating performance in Trading Places that showcased a different side of her acting range. In one particularly memorable scene, Curtis bares it all, displaying a stunning figure that left audiences in awe. However, in a recent interview, the actress admitted that she wouldn't do such a scene again, citing that she's grown older and wiser since then:
I was 21 years old and the part required Ophelia to take off her dress. Did I like doing it? No. Did I feel embarrassed that I was doing it? Yes. Did I look OK? Yeah. Did I know what I was doing? Yeah. Did I like it? No. Was I doing it because it was the job? Yes.
Nevertheless, her bold and daring performance in the film will always be remembered as a defining moment in her career.
The cultural impact of the 1982 film Fast Times at Ridgemont High has been indelible. It is widely regarded as a defining high school movie. And if there's one particular scene that has remained etched in audiences' minds, it is one that features Cates' character, Linda, gracefully diving into a pool and discarding her red bikini top, before seducing her friend Stacy's older brother, Brad (played by Judge Reinhold). Cates later said of the famous scene:
The topless scene in Fast Times at Ridgemont High was funny, which made it easy. In this business, if a girl wants a career, she has to be willing to strip. If you've got a good bod, then why not show it?
Her unique combination of grace, intelligence, and depth have cemented her as a true legend in the world of cinema. Hannah has spoken out about gratuitous scenes in film, especially when she's involved:
There have been many times when I have suddenly been confronted with a scene [with no clothes]. I would say, 'This isn't in the script.' And they would say, 'Oh we've added it. We felt it was integral to the character's development.' There are some real sleazeballs around. I soon became wise enough to realize there are very few films in which nudity is important.
Bo Derek's film career was marked by her sultry and captivating presence on the screen. Her good looks and stunning physique made her an instant sensation and propelled her to the forefront of Hollywood's leading ladies. Derek made her film debut in the 1977 movie Orca and became an instant sensation after her performance in 10 the following year. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, she starred in a series of films, many of which capitalized on her physical beauty, such as Tarzan the Ape Man and Bolero. Despite criticism that her roles were limited to sex symbols, Derek continued to act and expand her career, even branching out into producing and writing. Her legacy as a sex symbol has endured over the years, but she remains a beloved figure in Hollywood history.
Charlize Theron's illustrious film career has been punctuated by fearless performances that have left audiences mesmerized. Adept at portraying characters that demand raw emotion and physicality, Theron has never been shy about baring her body if it enhances the authenticity of her performance.
Whether she's playing a serial killer in Monster, a spy in Atomic Blonde, or the wife of a Southern lawyer in The Devil's Advocate, Theron brings a vulnerability to her characters that is alluring and captivating. The Academy Award-winning actress has shown time and again that her talent is matched only by her willingness to take risks and push boundaries, making her one of Hollywood's most daring and sought-after performers. In 2012, Theron explained that she has zero problems with filming a scene sans clothing as long as it means something in the script:
It depends on who you’re doing the sex scene with. I don’t have issues being naked. What I mean is, I’m not hung up on my body, and I’ve been lucky to work with people I’ve been really comfortable with.
Despite the controversial nature of some of her onscreen appearances, Jolie has always maintained her critical acclaim, as her acting prowess and sheer talent are undeniable. She has cemented her status as a true icon of the silver screen. Jolie told Black Film in 2004:
I don't get funny about [these roles]. I give more of myself when I'm extremely open emotionally than when I just have my shirt off.
The captivating French actress, Eva Green, burst onto the Hollywood scene with great aplomb in 2003, stunning audiences with her audacious performance in Bernardo Bertolucci's film, The Dreamers. The film caused a sensation, for it exposed a raw, vulnerable and entirely unfiltered aspect of the actress, as she exposed herself both physically and emotionally. Following this, the daring and provocative Green showed no restraint in her subsequent roles, including Perfect Sense and 300: Rise of an Empire, where she continued to entrance viewers with her uninhibited and bold performances, earning her a reputation as one of the most fearless actresses of her generation.
In 1997, the alluring and talented Penélope Cruz gave a captivating performance in the film Open Your Eyes. In it, she portrays the love interest of a wealthy and confident young man who is trapped in a dream world, exploring the limits of the human spirit and the realm of existentialism. Cruz, unafraid to bare herself both physically and emotionally, delivers a performance that is nothing short of fearless.
With a presence that commands the screen, Cruz's portrayal of a woman whose love is the only connection to reality in an otherwise surreal world is nothing short of mesmerizing. Her willingness to be vulnerable and daring in her performances has earned her a place among the most daring and respected actresses of her time.
In the 2002 film Secretary, Maggie Gyllenhaal delivers a performance that is both brave and heart-wrenching. Playing a timid young typist named Lee Holloway, she finds herself drawn to her handsome and enigmatic boss, Mr. Grey (played by James Spader), who introduces her to the world of sadomasochism. Despite the taboo nature of the subject matter, Gyllenhaal approached the role with a nuanced and empathetic touch, bringing to life a character struggling to reconcile her desires with societal expectations. Her portrayal of Lee Holloway is both vulnerable and fierce, leaving a lasting impression on audiences long after the credits roll.
Melanie Griffith, the iconic American actress, has long been known for her fearless portrayals of strong and intense female characters. Whether she's playing the dangerous and seductive Lulu in Something Wild or the troubled adult film star Holly Body in Body Double, Griffith has always been unafraid to delve into complex and challenging roles. She's also never been one to shy away from doing away with her costume onscreen, often baring her body onscreen with a boldness and confidence that only adds to the power of her performances. Regardless of genre or critical reception, Griffith's unwavering commitment to bringing dynamic and authentic characters to life has made her a celebrated icon of cinema.
Nicole Kidman, the statuesque and celebrated actress, delivered a fearless performance in the 1999 film, Eyes Wide Shut. Directed by the master of the cinematic psyche, Stanley Kubrick, the film explores the dark underbelly of desire and obsession. Kidman portrays Alice Harford, a woman dealing with a distant and paranoid husband, played by her real-life husband at the time, Tom Cruise. Kidman's raw and unflinching portrayal of Alice included several unforgettable scenes, including one where she confronts her husband in nothing but her underwear, and another where she engages in a dreamy and sensual sex scene. Kidman also showed her willingness to expose herself in vulnerable moments, including a scene where she is filmed sitting on the toilet, a bold move that further cemented her status as one of Hollywood's bravest actresses.
In 2020, Kidman told The Hollywood Reporter:
When I went to work with Stanley Kubrick, he was like, ‘I’m going to want full-frontal' and I was like, ‘Ahh, I don’t know.’ So we came up with a great agreement, which was contractual. He would show me the scenes... before they made it into the film. Then I could feel completely safe. I didn’t say no to any of it. I’d wanted to make sure that it wasn’t going to be me standing there... and everyone laughing at me. I was protected, so I got to explore a complicated marriage and the way in which Tom [Cruise’s] character is having those jealous images.
Sharon Stone's unforgettable performance as Catherine Tramell in Basic Instinct captured audiences' attention like never before. The character was a mysterious and alluring woman, a novelist suspected of committing a murder, who shared an intense connection with the film's protagonist.
The raw and daring portrayal of Catherine by Stone cemented her status as a fearless actress, particularly in the infamous interrogation scene where she crossed and uncrossed her legs, revealing more than audiences had ever seen before. Her character's sexual prowess became a defining feature of the film, and Stone's willingness to bare it all was a bold and daring choice that solidified her place as a Hollywood icon.
After we shot Basic Instinct, I got called in to see it. Not on my own with the director, as one would anticipate, given the situation that has given us all pause, so to speak, but with a room full of agents and lawyers, most of whom had nothing to do with the project. That was how I saw my vagina shot for the first time, long after I’d been told, ‘We can’t see anything — I just need you to remove your panties, as the white is reflecting the light, so we know you have panties on.' [Stone] went to the projection booth, slapped Paul (Verhoeven) across the face, left, went to my car, and called my lawyer, Marty Singer.
The talented Heather Graham made a striking impression in the 1997 film Boogie Nights, portraying the vibrant and spunky character of Roller Girl. Her turn as the carefree porn starlet in this gritty tale of the adult film industry earned her accolades from critics and audiences alike. Graham's natural beauty and effervescence shone through in the film, as she exuded an undeniable energy and charisma in every scene she appeared in. Despite the controversial subject matter of the film, Graham brought an honesty and authenticity to her performance that elevated the character and the story as a whole.
While speaking with The AV Club about her performance in Boogie Nights she explained that the writing was so good that she was okay baring it all:
You know, it’s very hard to be like a young actress in Hollywood and never do any [scenes with no clothing] because it’s just so often asked of women—especially, I guess, whatever roles that I was going up for. But I was totally nervous. Of course, as a woman, even if you look good, you want to nitpick every little flaw you think you have. But there was something free about just going, 'Okay, I’m just going to do it.'
In 1997, the epic film Titanic swept the world with its tale of a doomed romance between the young and dashing Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and the beautiful and headstrong Rose (Winslet), played with poise and passion. The film smashed box office records and garnered numerous accolades, including the coveted Best Picture Oscar. It was a career-defining moment for both DiCaprio and Winslet. In one of the film's most memorable scenes, Jack sketches a portrait of Rose, revealing a boldness that captivated audiences and cemented Winslet's place as one of the most admired actresses of her time.
As much as Winslet is aware that the film made her an A-List actress, she still has to deal with some awkwardness from the famous scene from time to time. She explained:
My daughter actually had this at school. It was quite weird. She said someone came up to her having figured out after four years of being in school together that I was her mother, and said ‘Oh my God I’ve seen your mom’s boobs!'
The alluring Britt Ekland made her mark as the captivating pagan, Willow, in the cult classic film The Wicker Man. In the movie, the enchanting Ekland uses her sensuous voice to lure Sergeant Howie, played by Edward Woodward, while pounding on her bedroom wall in the buff. Despite only showing her upper body, Ekland's seductive powers were still strong enough to torment the chaste Sergeant, igniting an unquenchable desire for what he could not see. The film is renowned for its haunting atmosphere and its unique exploration of the human psyche, with Ekland's bewitching performance leaving an indelible mark on audiences.
Ekland later explained that not only was it freezing on set during the scene, but she was adamant that she didn't want to remove all of her clothes for the film. To say that she was upset when she saw the final product would be an understatement. She said:
For me anything below the waist is private so I was prepared to be topless on film but I would not show my bottom and my agent made that very clear. They brought in a body double one day when I was away from the set. No one told me, neither before nor after it happened. The first I knew about it was when the film came out and then I was in a state of shock. Her [the body double's] bottom was much bigger than mine and she wore a blonde wig that was longer than my own hair. It was ridiculous and I was very upset.
Jennifer Jason Leigh
Well, it was a funny thing because we were all so young when we made it. And then it came out and it was this big hit, you know, where you’d go to the theater and people would say the lines with it, and people had obviously seen the movie over and over again. It also made you think, like, ‘Oh yeah, this is what happens when you make a movie. Like, you didn’t realize, no, this is a very rare thing. Like it’s very rare that something really taps into what people are going through and that people really love it and they’ll go see it more than once and then bring friends. ... So, in a way I feel like I was spoiled by it in a certain way.
P.J. Soles, the beloved cult actress, has been a mainstay in some of the most iconic genre films of her time. Her youthful energy and quirky charm made her an instant favorite amongst fans of horror and comedy alike. Soles made a splash in the industry with her role as Lynda in the 1978 classic Halloween, and followed it up with a standout performance in the Stephen King adaptation, Carrie. Her lively and dynamic screen presence also shone through in Rock N Roll High School, where she played the rebellious Riff Randell. Soles' performances were never one-dimensional; she was able to evoke both fear and laughter in equal measure, cementing her status as a fan favorite in the world of genre cinema.
While speaking with Vulture about John Carpenter's Halloween and the scene where she lets it all hang out, she said that she's happy she did it. She expalined:
I don't think they needed [it], I think he just thought it might add to my character and be kind of cute, you know? So it seemed okay to do that, and of course my parents were horrified [laughs], but it seemed okay. Looking back on it now, it's okay, because, wow, that's what I used to look like!
The stunning Pam Grier, known for her iconic roles in blaxploitation films of the 1970s, was a trailblazer in every sense of the word. With her undeniable beauty and bold charisma, she shattered the barriers of what was considered "acceptable" on screen, and in doing so, paved the way for future generations of Black actresses.
Grier, ever the revolutionary, refused to conform to the narrow beauty standards of Hollywood, instead choosing to embrace her body and her sexuality in her performances. She believed that Black women were often dismissed as unattractive and unsexy, and she was determined to change that perception. Her willingness to bare it all in her early films not only challenged societal norms, but also showcased her undeniable talent and fearlessness as an actress. Grier's impact on cinema and culture cannot be overstated, and her legacy as a pioneering figure continues to inspire and captivate audiences to this day.
The captivating Margot Robbie rose to fame in 2013 when she played the role of Naomi Lapaglia, Jordan Belfort's wife, in the infamous film, The Wolf of Wall Street. Robbie's fearless performance not only garnered critical acclaim, but also captivated audiences around the world. She boldly tackled some of the film's most challenging and daring scenes, including the famous stockings and heels scene, which required her to imbue her character with both vulnerability and confidence. Although she admits to taking a few shots of tequila before filming, her dedication and passion for the craft of acting shone through in every moment of her performance. The Wolf of Wall Street not only solidified Robbie as a major talent in Hollywood, but also served as a testament to her remarkable range and fearlessness as an actress.
Jane Fonda is a woman of many talents. A multi-award-winning actress and an outspoken activist, she has spent decades captivating audiences with her performances. However, it was her role in the 1968 erotic science fiction film Barbarella that truly launched her into the mainstream. In the film, Fonda played the title character, a seductive astronaut tasked with stopping a mad scientist from taking over the universe. To perform the iconic dance scene, where she ends up completely bare, Fonda admits she had to indulge in some liquid courage. "I was so nervous that I drank a lot of vodka," she once joked. "I was drunk out of my mind and kind of moving to the song." Despite her apprehension, Fonda's fearless performance proved to be a hit with audiences, and the scene has since become one of the most memorable moments in film history.
Milla Jovovich, with her ethereal beauty and otherworldly allure, has become a staple in the world of science fiction films. Yet, her performances are never merely limited to her physical appearance, but are instead anchored by a steely strength and determination that makes her characters all the more compelling.
Despite her reluctance to take on roles that rely solely on her looks, Jovovich understands the importance of striking a balance between her sexuality and her character's personality, as seen in her iconic role in The Fifth Element and her lead role in the Resident Evil series. Jovovich's approach to her craft highlights her deep understanding of character, and her ability to portray a multidimensional and complex woman onscreen.
The effervescent Kim Cattrall has had a diverse and daring career on the silver screen, portraying a range of characters from a sultry mannequin to a sassy police officer. A fearless and always exciting actress, she has never shied away from embracing her sexuality onscreen. However, as she has grown older and more experienced, Cattrall has come to realize that she no longer wishes to bare all on camera. Instead, she hopes to explore more complex and nuanced roles that allow her to showcase her talents as an actor without relying on sexualized performances. Cattrall's commitment to her craft is unwavering, and her ability to adapt and evolve as an actress is truly admirable.
While speaking with Variety in 2022, Cattrall explained:
I don’t want to anymore. I’m 65. I’m in great shape. But I’m just not interested. I feel like I filled my quota on that one — and without an intimacy coach.
Helena Bonham Carter
In the late 1990s, Helena Bonham Carter left behind her reputation as a demure English rose and embraced a darker, more daring persona in David Fincher's Fight Club. In the film, she plays Marla Singer, a troubled and mysterious woman who becomes entangled in the lives of two men played by Brad Pitt and Edward Norton. Carter's portrayal of Marla was a revelation, showcasing the actress's range and versatility. Clad in black and exhaling thick smoke, she's a force to be reckoned with, playing games with the film's anti-hero and captivating audiences with her edgy and unpredictable performance.
The film also saw Carter showing off more than audiences were used to seeing of her. Most of Carter's previous films were period pieces that saw her dressed in corsets and flowing dresses, but as Marla Singer she put herself on full display. With Fight Club, Carter proved that she was capable of playing complex and dynamic characters, and set the stage for a new era of her career as a Hollywood star.
Salma Hayek has revealed that the intimate scene she filmed for Desperado was a "traumatizing" experience. Despite the scene launching her into stardom, the actress admits that it was a difficult moment for her. Hayek had developed a close friendship with director Robert Rodriguez and producer Elizabeth Avellán, but there was no mention of a love scene between her character and Antonio Banderas' El Mariachi during production.
Despite feeling uncomfortable, Hayek agreed to do the scene with only four people present on set: herself, Banderas, Avellán, and Rodriguez. Even though it was a challenging experience for the actress, she remains grateful for the opportunities that the film has given her. She says that when the scene played at the premiere she left the theater so she didn't have to watch:
I walked out of the premiere when they played it and I took my brother, father, and mother with me. I didn't want any of them to see it. They were happy to walk out right away and then we came back again. I don't think they noticed anything.
Hayek has since gone on to lay it all out there in films like Frida and From Dusk Till Dawn, both films notably feature her two accomplices from Desperado - Frida co-stars Antonio Banderas and Dusk was directed by Robert Rodriguez.
Goldie Hawn is an iconic actress whose career spans several decades. She first became a household name in the 1960s with her breakout role on the television show Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In. She went on to star in a number of successful films, including Private Benjamin, for which she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Hawn is known for her comedic talents and her ability to bring depth to her characters, as well as her natural charm and beauty.
Ms. Hawn once considered herself an "ugly duckling" until she discovered her ability to attract men in her late teens. Despite her popular Laugh-In appearances, she never considered herself sexy. However, her acting abilities and undeniable charm made her a beloved Hollywood icon. Although she has only agreed to brief intimate scenes in three films - Wildcats, There's a Girl in My Soup, and The Girl From Petrovka - she looks back on those roles with some discomfort. She told The New York Times:
I'm not a prude. I love my body, and I love running around naked. If I'm on a beach and nobody's there, I'm always taking off my clothes. But once it's involved with your work, it becomes a very different thing. Millions of people see this. It's a statement about yourself.
In 1963, Jayne Mansfield took on the role of Sandy Brooks in the film Promises! Promises! and created a sensation with her daring film scenes. As the first mainstream Hollywood star to appear without clothes on film, Mansfield was both praised and condemned for her boundary-pushing performance. In the movie, Mansfield appears undressed in several dream sequences, the most famous of which features her singing "I'm In Love" while submerged in a foam-filled bathtub. With her hourglass figure and platinum blonde hair, Mansfield embodied the epitome of Hollywood glamour, and her willingness to bare it all only added to her allure. While Mansfield claimed to have used champagne to calm her nerves before filming the scenes, her performance remains a daring and unforgettable moment in cinema history.
I would never do [it just to do it]. Every time I’ve shown a part of my body, it was integral to the character. I hope. Let’s see: Cousin Bette, I was a courtesan. Leaving Las Vegas, I showed a tiny bit in some scenes. Molly, that was a real moment. They were going to hire a body double but I thought I had to do it even though I looked in the mirror and thought, 'I’m not really prepared to show my body.'
Jennifer Connelly's film career is marked by her unflinching devotion to her art, consistently portraying intricate and passionate characters. In the critically lauded film Requiem For A Dream, she embodies a woman who falls for a self-destructive addict portrayed by Jared Leto. Connelly bravely reveals everything she possesses, both physically and emotionally, as she navigates a disheartening and despairing world. She has also exposed herself in American Pastoral, Waking The Dead, and The Hot Spot. Despite the difficulties of these roles, Connelly's dauntless performance has earned her accolades from critics. Through her work, she has demonstrated her adeptness and unwavering commitment as an actor, unafraid to embrace daring and thought-provoking roles.
Marisa Tomei's illustrious film career is distinguished by her unyielding dedication to her art, continually embodying intricate and fervent characters. In the highly acclaimed film, The Wrestler, Tomei portrays a woman who falls for a self-destructive performer and addict portrayed by Mickey Rourke. Tomei fearlessly reveals her all, both physically and emotionally, as she navigates through a bleak and disheartening world. She has also put it all out there in Before The Devil Knows You're Dead, The Slums of Beverly Hills, and Factotum.
Tomei's intrepid performances has garnered several Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations. Whether she's buttoned up as Aunt May or letting it all hang out in an indie film, Tomei is never afraid to take on roles that leave her exposed.
Helen Hunt may not put it all out there as much as the actresses mentioned, yet she has exhibited unflinching courage in baring all in her 2012 film, The Sessions. In this daring performance, she portrays a sex surrogate, helping a middle-aged man lose his virginity. It's an intricate role that demands both skill and bravery in exposing oneself on the silver screen. This can be a daunting task for any actress, but for Hunt, it was what drew her to the part. In 2012, Hunt told IndieWire:
Initially when I signed on I got tunnel vision — like, I want this part. If you stop to think, 'I’m scared about the [intimacy], I’m scared to play this part' — there are a lot of reasons to say no. But I know a good story when I read it.
Any hesitation I had about the [intimacy], I think what I thought was it’s getting late. You know what I mean? It’s getting too late in my life to care about the small things. It’s getting too late to not be brave, to not live my life fully, to not try to be an artist. Trivial things like how nice your hotel room is, or if you have to be naked for a while, they fade away.
Elizabeth Berkley’s role in the film Showgirls is one that has polarized audiences since its release in 1995. As Nomi Malone, a young woman striving to make it big as a Las Vegas showgirl, Berkley’s performance is as audacious as it is captivating. The film’s explicit scenes of sex and violence have been derided by many, but Berkley’s fearless portrayal of a woman grappling with her own sexuality and ambition cannot be denied. Since its release in the mid-'90s, Showgirls has become a late night classic full of very pausable scenes.
In the years since the film’s release, Berkley has spoken openly about the experience of making the film, including the challenges of shooting its most controversial scenes. Despite the controversy surrounding Showgirls, Berkley’s performance remains a testament to her bravery and willingness to take on daring and provocative roles.
While speaking about Showgirls with Collider in 2021, Berkley said:
I’m extremely appreciative that this movie that people blasted with such cruelty, it’s so interesting and fascinating how academics have written papers about this film and its effect on pop culture. I’m blown away by the appreciation of the film and I love that it’s become a cult classic... That blows me away. I’m extremely appreciative. The gay community, especially, has embraced it in a way that’s so beautiful.
Alicia Vikander, the Swedish actress of immense talent, has proven her ability to bring complexity and depth to her roles, both costumed and un-costumed. She exhibits this in the Dutch film A Royal Affair, where she exhibits courage and candor in a passionate bedroom scene with her lover. But that was only the beginning for Vikander, whose range allowed her to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in The Danish Girl and then take on the iconic role of Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider reboot. However, it was not until her role in the science-fiction drama Ex Machina that Vikander truly laid it all out there. As an alluring robot exploring her newfound human body, she exudes a mesmerizing confidence that captures the audience's attention.
Rachael Weisz's career as an actress has been defined by her unwavering commitment to her craft, delving into intricate and passionate characters with fearlessness and skill. In the acclaimed film "Disobedience," she takes on a pivotal role that requires a six-minute intimate scene, a daunting task for any actor. However, Weisz was driven by the importance of the moment to the story, and she delivers a powerful and authentic performance. Through her work, Weisz has proven to be a dedicated artist, unafraid to explore challenging and provocative material.
The boldness and vulnerability that Weisz brings to her performances are an inspiration, challenging viewers to reconsider their expectations and preconceptions about what a woman's role can be in film. Her willingness to fully embody complex and nuanced characters has earned her critical acclaim and recognition as one of the most accomplished actresses of her generation.
Suzanne Somers personified the 1970s ideal of “jiggle TV”, an era when Three’s Company, Charlie’s Angels, and The Love Boat captivated audiences with ample visual delights during prime time every weeknight. However, she abandoned such suggestive subtext when she appeared poolside without a bathing suit in Magnum Force, yes, the Dirty Harry masterpiece. Somers then went on to promote the Thigh Master via infomercials before making her way back to primetime with Step By Step.
Lisa Bonet first made a name for herself as the rebellious and stylish Denise Huxtable on The Cosby Show and A Different World. But it was in the 1987 noir horror film Angel Heart that she shed her wholesome image, appearing fully herself in both a bathtub and bedroom scene amid the film's unsettling and supernatural plot. Bonet would later display her natural beauty once again in the 1993 crime drama Bank Robber. Since then, she has been discerning in her choice of roles, but her fans are always thrilled to see her onscreen.
Ann-Margret, a Scandinavian sensation, was keenly aware of the allure that her physical attributes could command. She quickly rose to stardom with her captivating performances in Bye Bye Birdie and Viva Las Vegas, the latter alongside the iconic Elvis Presley. However, it wasn't until she reached her thirties that Ann-Margret fearlessly revealed everything onscreen in the film Carnal Knowledge. Her portrayal of the insatiable Bobbie not only earned her critical acclaim but also a Golden Globe. Throughout the 1970s, she continued to take on roles in films like C.C. and Company, Tommy, and The Pleasure Seekers where she was unafraid to showcase her captivating sensuality.
Julianne Moore is a celebrated and highly acclaimed actress who possesses an unwavering dedication to her craft, unafraid to showcase her physical form when the role demands it. In films like The Big Lebowski, Boogie Nights, Blindness, and The Kids Are Alright, she portrays complex characters grappling with the harsh realities of the world. Moore's performances are fearless, baring it all onscreen in a manner that feels organic and necessary for the story. Through her remarkable work, she has established herself as a consummate actor, unafraid to embrace challenging and thought-provoking roles.
Rebecca De Mornay
Rebecca De Mornay, the golden-haired and milky-skinned actress, burst onto the scene in Risky Business, where her character's confidence and ability left audiences awestruck. In And God Created Woman (1988), a remake of the film that made Brigitte Bardot an international star, De Mornay proved herself more than worthy of the role with her engrossing performance. In the thriller The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, a quintessential '90s film, De Mornay continued to bare it all onscreen, but also demonstrated the importance of context when it comes to steamy scenes. Through her roles, De Mornay has shown herself to be an actress unafraid to take on provocative characters and unashamed to showcase her physical attributes when the story calls for it.
In the world of cinema, Halle Berry has captivated audiences with her breathtaking performances and mesmerizing presence. Her role in the 2001 film Monster's Ball stands out as a defining moment in her career, as she revealed her ability to use her physicality to convey powerful dramatic intent. In the film, Berry portrays a woman who enters into a relationship with the corrections officer responsible for executing her former husband. Through scenes that are both raw and sensual, she lays herself bare, delivering a performance that is as compelling as it is provocative. Berry's nuanced portrayal earned her the Best Actress award, cementing her status as a true cinematic icon. The same year, Berry appeared in Swordfish, a techno thriller that's much more pulpy than Monster's Ball, but she went all out in that film as well.
Cate Blanchett is a consummate artist hailing from Australia, renowned for her multifaceted performances. Unlike some of her fellow actors, Blanchett does not shy away from revealing her body onscreen, using it to communicate subtle and nuanced elements of her characters that words cannot. In films such as Carol, Elizabeth, and Tár, Blanchett strips down not for the purpose of titillation, but to convey a deeper understanding of her character's journey. Her approach to the craft is an admirable one, rooted in the belief that the most powerful performances are those that are unafraid to delve into the raw and vulnerable aspects of human nature.
Diane Lane, a celebrated actress, has proven that one can bear it all without fear of losing credibility. Lane has fearlessly taken on challenging roles and isn't shy about showing off her body onscreen. From her role in The Cotton Club to The Big Town, Knight Moves, Chaplin, and her Academy Award-nominated performance in Unfaithful, Lane bares it all to bring her complex and layered characters to life. Her performances showcase her dedication and her ability to bring depth to her characters, proving her versatility as an actress. Through her genuinely fascinating roles, Lane has become a well-respected artist in the film industry.
However, there are some roles where Lane won't strip down for. While speaking about her role in Judge Dredd in 2015, she noted a very good reason for not wanting to take her clothes off onscreen:
I had this phobia that they were going to get my ass onscreen at the same time as Sylvester Stallone’s ass. I’m like Judge Bone, and he’s got these cinder blocks for glutes. I cannot be on-camera the same time as him.
Holly Hunter, an esteemed actress, transitions effortlessly between award-winning film performances and captivating television dramas. Her work has garnered critical acclaim and adoration from audiences alike. Despite her acclaim, Hunter recognizes the power of her body as a storytelling device, as opposed to simply using it to entice her audience. In her performances in films such as Crash (1996), The Piano, and Saving Grace, she masterfully lays it all out there. In doing so, she effectively communicates her character's story while baring all to the viewer, resulting in a powerful and unforgettable performance.
Ashley Judd’s film career is characterized by her unwavering commitment to her craft, often portraying complex and passionate characters. From commercially successful ‘90s thrillers like Double Jeopardy to more intense movies like the seriously stressful Bug, Judd has demonstrated her willingness to bare her soul and her skin on the screen for the sake of dramatic tension. Her fearless performances have earned her critical acclaim. Through her work, Judd has proven herself to be an actor of unparalleled authenticity who is unafraid of pushing her limits in the world of cinema.
Linnea Quigley may not be a household name, but for horror enthusiasts of the 1980s, she's a cherished scream queen. Known for her performances in horror cult classics such as Return of the Living Dead, Quigley's role as Trash, the seductive burlesque dancer who finds herself in a zombie apocalypse, remains iconic to this day. Though not a critically acclaimed actress, Quigley's contribution to the horror genre and her fearless performances have endeared her to a generation of horror fans who appreciate her willingness to put it all out there onscreen.
With the naked stuff, I came from a family where my dad was a doctor, so it wasn’t like the body was something to hide or anything, but being shy, I would just treat it by tuning everyone out and doing what I need to and just think of my lines and try not to make it a big deal, because the more you try to hide it the more people are going to look.
Rosanna Arquette's illustrious career in Hollywood has been characterized by her unyielding dedication to her craft, consistently delivering complex and multifaceted performances. She is known for her willingness to bare herself onscreen, not just to capture the audience's attention but to add depth and meaning to her characters. In films such as The Wrong Man and Nowhere to Run, Arquette makes no bones about exposing herself, laying it all out there in service of the film. Her daring performances have earned her widespread critical acclaim, cementing her status as a actress who does whatever she can to kick a film into the stratoshphere.
Ana De Armas
Throughout Andrew Dominik's film Blonde, Ana de Armas embodies Marilyn Monroe's sultry and seductive persona, bringing an electric energy to the screen with her performance. She captures Monroe's vulnerability and sensuality, while also delving into the darker aspects of the actress's life, including her struggles with addiction and mental health issues. Although the movie's NC-17 rating and racier scenes were controversial, the lead actress defended Blonde's more contentious scenes, often praising the professionalism of her coworkers and the on-set intimacy coordinators:
"I understood what I was doing and I felt very protected and safe. I didn’t feel exploited because I was in control. I made that decision. I knew what the movie was doing. I trusted my director. I felt like I was in a safe environment. We had hundreds of conversations about these scenes. Everyone felt a deep respect for the movie we were making. And in that sense, I had no fear. I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all, even though they were really hard scenes.”
Actor and filmmaker Dave Franco directs his wife Alison Brie in several scenes baring it all in the Prime Video rom-com, Somebody I Used to Know. One of the most memorable of these is a streaking scene across a golf course, with Brie and co-star Kiersey Clemons. Funnily enough, it was Brie who inspired the scene, having co-written the script with her husband - and apparently having a penchant for a good jog sans clothing:
“That [scene] was an early addition to the storyline because I had a real penchant for streaking in my college years. I kind of took a step away from that, but, in more recent years, I’ve gotten back into it.”
The nakedness in Somebody I Used To Know also serves a storytelling purpose, providing a visual metaphor for the lead's vulnerable journey of self-discovery.
Anne Hathaway's role in Havoc, a 2005 crime drama, was a dramatic departure from her previous work in family-friendly films such as The Princess Diaries. In it she plays Alison, a privileged but troubled student who becomes involved with a dangerous group of gang members in Los Angeles. One of the most controversial aspects of Hathaway's performance in Havoc was a racy scene which shows Hathaway topless in a car with her co-star Bijou Philips. Despite any pushback, Havoc paved the way for more provocative roles for Hathaway in films such as Brokeback Mountain and Love And Other Drugs.
While Chloe Sevigny's performance in Boys Don't Cry was widely praised for its emotional depth and authenticity, a certain scene in the film caused some controversy and debate. In the scene, Sevigny's character Lana Tisdel undresses in front of Brandon Teena (played by Hilary Swank) and the two get intimate. Some critics argued that the scene was exploitative and unnecessary, while others saw it as a powerful and honest portrayal of intimacy and vulnerability. Despite the controversy, it remains an important moment in the film, which Sevigny considers an integral part of her legacy:
"I feel like it was important to the world. Not even one community in general. As far as building tolerance and acceptance and educating people and portraying a person and seeing the violence acted out against them and how heart-wrenching it is and humanizing a story, it was a really important thing to be a part of."
Eva Mendes got candid about her more intimate scenes with Joaquin Phoenix in We Own The Night, a gritty crime drama set in 1980s New York City:
"Sometimes, you just have to go to those places where you are not comfortable. That's what actors do. And very early on you have to choose what kind of actor you are. You have to say that you are an actor who will do [scenes without clothes]. Or you wont do it. That's great if it works for you. I think it's a bit of a cop out. I honestly do. I'm not saying that everyone should do [it]. I'm saying that you've got to be able to go to those places, no matter how dark they may be. That's the reason you guys want to see us. One of the reasons you want to see us up there, is because you want to be able to relate to us. You want to relate to what we are going through. It's that human connection, to relate. We all have those intimate moments."
Kate Beckinsale's performance in Underworld: Evolution was nothing short of electrifying. In the film, Beckinsale reprises her role as the vampire Selene, exuding confidence and sex appeal in her trademark latex suit. One of the most memorable scenes in the entire movie features Beckinsale and her co-star Scott Speedman in a steamy and intense love scene. Beckinsale's chemistry with Speedman was palpable - which is a liiiittle awkward, since the director of said scene was her then-husband, Len Wiseman. When asked about the feelings behind the scene, Beckinsale had this to say:
"We sort of put it off a bit, because Scott [Speedman]--who has become quite a family friend--I think it's sort of easier to do something like that with somebody you haven't had Fourth of July barbecues with... So we kept finding we were postponing it to the following week. Actually, when we came down to do it, Len and I were all right, and Scott was just tortured. I think it was worse, much worse for him."
Regardless of any awkward family barbecues, the scene remains a fan favorite moment in the Underworld franchise.
Louis Malle's 1978 film Pretty Baby stirred up significant controversy upon its release, and still does to this day. One polarizing topic of discussion was the performance of actress Susan Sarandon, who plays a sex worker named Hattie who becomes involved with a photographer named EJ Bellocq (played by Keith Carradine). During their relationship, EJ is shown photographing Hattie in a way that many critics deemed gratuitous and exploitative. Nonetheless, Sarandon's performance brings depth and complexity to the role, making Hattie one of the film's most memorable and compelling figures.