Another day, another film script requiring nudity. This time it’s for an unpaid short film about a young man obsessed with the girl next door. Not content with just showing a flash of nude back, the director wants the actress to bare her breasts, and possibly more. All for the measly sum of “expenses only”.
I’m not a prude, I’m pretty comfortable in my own skin and I enjoy love stories, but quite frankly I’m sick of all these new films and directors that want to “push the boundaries” and “explore new depths” by making their actors perform increasingly deprave acts on camera.
Another low-paid short film, based on “visual innovation” states that “unusual nude and intimate physical interactions (but not necessarily erotic) between the man and woman, will be required“. I’m not entirely sure what “unusual” entails.
Danish film director Lars von Trier‘s latest film Nymphomaniac boasts real sex scenes. Last year I was sent the audition brief and told in no uncertain times, that there were to be no time-wasters – full frontal nudity was required at the audition, and there was no talk of body-doubles. The film tells the story of a self-diagnosed nymphomaniac who recounts her erotic experiences to the man who saves her after she is severely beaten. So yet another artistic film about sex and violence. Or basically porn.
My father would surely choke on his souvlaki.
You could argue that it is the actors’ choice to accept such a role or not, but it is not unusual for actors to be put in a position where they feel pressurised into taking things that little bit further, to save or promote their careers – more so for actors who are just starting out.
Only recently Downton Abbey’s Jessica Brown-Findlay admitted that she regretted going topless in her movie debut Albatross, saying, “To be honest, Albatross was naivety and not knowing that I could say no. I had no idea what was going to happen and thought I was going to be shot from behind.”
Sadly, the poor girl obviously felt that she still couldn’t say no when she shed her clothes again for her latest role in Labyrinth, while insisting that she wouldn’t do it again.
Nowadays it seems that an actress will never make it to the top unless she is willing to shed her clothes and/or perform an explicit sex scene.
Natalie Portman was swimming along nicely with a string of successful films under her belt but had failed to reach the glory that is an Academy Award, until she decided to have a sleepover with Mila Kunis in Black Swan.
And who could forget Halle Berry’s emotionally riveting scene in Monster’s Ball for which she also won critical acclaim in the form of an Academy Award.
The only exception at the moment appears to be the talented Jennifer Lawrence who managed to nab an Oscar for her role as a sex addict despite there being no sex or nude scenes in the film whatsoever. How long until she is manipulated into shedding her classy image though, only time will tell.
There are of course, a few Hollywood actresses who refuse to strip for the camera. Jessica Alba has a no nudity clause and has frequently used body doubles and had her underwear digitally removed for romantic scenes. Yet, it seems a shame that a woman who has publically advocated that she will not appear nude, is still made to appear nude through digital interference.
Gone are the golden film years where the likes of Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren tantalised the audience with a simple look or smile. Overtly sexual scenes were never needed to convey the love and affection or even lust that one character felt for another and nudity was rare.
The Bollywood industry is famous for its strict No Love Scenes rule, yet audiences are captivated by the emotional depth and feelings that the actors are able to portray.
Whereas a male actor can get away with playing strong roles that will never require him to shed more than his beard, an actress will no doubt at some point in her career be asked to play a role that requires some form of degradation – a rape victim, a drug addict, a prostitute, a mental patient. Even if an actress simply refuses to appear in overtly romantic roles she is effectively ending her career.
We could argue that a good actress should be able to shed all inhibitions, after all it is only acting; a great pretence. But why should she? After all, she is not pretending to be naked, she IS naked. She does not pretend to kiss her co-star, she KISSES her co-star. Lars von Trier doesn’t want pretend sex in his film, he wants REAL sex. In my opinion, the line between pretend and reality are becoming increasingly blurred.
We could even go down the slippery slope and predict that it won’t be long before actors are required to kill each other on camera.
I better go draw up a No Killing Clause.
- Topless Scene Regret For Downton Abbey’s Jessica Brown Findlay (contactmusic.com)
- Nymphomaniac star Stacy Martin talks sex, nudity and porn doubles (independent.co.uk)