Cinema #33: Actresses on Nudity (Part 2)

Continuing in the grand tradition of part one, we'll look at what the actresses have to say about their brush with cinematic nudity.  Enjoy.

Note that all these do not pertain specifically to nudity; "T&A" may be a better term, as some of these films didn't have explicit nudity, but had some revealing shots nonetheless.  (For example, #16 refers to mega-cleave, but Gillespie was not nude.)  Why include them?  I thought these actresses had some interesting things to say on the subject.

Love American Style, The Choirboys, Terminal Island, Knight Rider, Magnum PI

Phyllis in Sweet Sugar (1972)
"I was modeling in New York and making more money doing that, but I came out to test for another part and wound up with SWEET SUGAR. I had signed a 'no frontal nudity' agreement and when I got to Costa Rica, all of a sudden I had to go nude. So I called the union and said I refused, and they said I'd get sued. They weren't helpful at all,  I always remember that. I had to hire a lawyer, myself, and I was only making scale starring in this film. He went down there, so I wouldn't have to do full-frontal nudity. It was kind of sad because one girl jumped out of a building, and it was just one mishap after mishap."

"TERMINAL ISLAND was fun except, again, I had signed a 'nofrontal nudity' contract. No big deal .. .I mean, it was just a low budget film. I wouldn't mind being nude in a good film [laughs]. So I jumped in a river nude, and they were supposed to shut the camera off when I came out. Seven or eight years later, it shows up in a magazine- me, standing nekkid.  They had sold the rights. I wouldn't have complained, but it was a terrible picture. I sued 'em but after so many years, your contracts aren't good anymore."

Cheerleader Camp, Private School, Avenging Angel, the Saw films

"I didn't really want to do more nudity. I didn't want to do B-movies and be taking my clothes off.... "If BASIC INSTINCT came my way, I'm sure I wouldn't have turned it down. It depends on who's in the movie, what kind of part it is, what the movie's about. But, you know, I'm not getting those types of offers or scripts anymore, so I'm not worried about it."

48 HRS, Cat People, Superman III, Stephen King's IT

"I've always looked at nudity like it's just part of it," shrugs O'Toole. "You read about it when you fIrst get the script; if you have any problem with it, then you don't go in for the part. To me, this happens to be my costume for the scene .. .it's just a little colder than normal.  The crews I've worked with-and I've done quite a few of these scenes are very cool about it. They're there with the robe at the beginning and the end of the scene. They usually have very few people on the set. I've never been all that concerned or worried about it. Your initial reaction, when you take off the robe, is, 'Oh my God, what am I doing?'

"I remember the very first nude scene I did was with Jack Lemmon. We did a film called THE ENTERTAINER, which was a musical adaptation of a John Osborne play. Laurence Olivier performed the title role in an acclaimed 1960 British movie. But my version was Americanized, musicalized and put somewhere in California. It was one of the first things after SMILE. We did a cut for American television, and a separate one for European film release. Of course, for the European one, we had to be naked and
that was the hardest one because it was my first love scene. Jack Lemmon was as sweet as anybody could be. He didn't make a big deal about it. This man was just so wonderful. I remember before the scene, I was sitting thinking, 'In two hours, this will be over. You can do it!' And then when I got to the scene,
it was as natural.as anything. Maybe that's why I don't have that big a problem, because it's just another scene."

Vampire Lovers, Live and Let Die, Frankenstein & the Monster from Hell

Smith (left) and Ingrid Pitt (right) in Vampire Lovers

''The one thing that was difficult for me was the lesbian aspect of it. I really couldn't be less lesbian than I am. I mean, I am totally disinterested in females. In that way, I really felt it was distasteful. I hated doing that, loathed doing it. Ingrid did too. THE VAMPIRE LOVERS was very steamy and I can remember Michael
Style running around saying, 'The audience is going to fall asleep if you don't inject something in to it! At that
time, I was still very innocent and I didn't know what to inject into it.

I recounted my conversation with Derek Whitehurst, the film's assistant director, who told me that some
of the crew members were a bit embarrassed by the nude scenes. "Oh, no, I think they enjoyed them!"
laughed Smith. "I mean, there were these two lovely girls in bed. Why shouldn't they enjoy it? I think possibly
Derek was a bit embarrassed. He's a good friend of mine, he lives just around the corner from me. He's
the dearest, sweetest man you'd ever want to meet and he may have been embarrassed. I don't think the rest of the crew were."

Embrace the Vampire, Bullets Over Broadway, Bound, Remote Control, Johnny Be Good

"Most of the women you hear running down Demi Moore have done nude scenes or sex scenes. People say, 'Sharon Stone got to be a star because she showed her genitalia.' I don't think that was it. I think she gave a tremendous performance in BASIC INSTINCT. I don't think it was that half a second of film that gave everybody the idea, 'Let's put Sharon Stone in our next movie."'

They Came from Within, The Crazies, Cat People, Sugar Cookies

"Dealing with all the nudity was very difficult in the beginning. Just the idea of being nude in front of all these people is hard. But after you've done it, and by the first night you've spent 14 hours nude--nobody cares anymore... Nobody looks at you anymore, you're laying on the floor and crew people are stepping over your nude body. After a while, it's just like you're in clothes."

Fugitive Rage, Star Hunter

"How do you acclimate your strength and personal convictions to the t&a scenes that are mandatory for low budget thrillers?"

"It's a tough business. I used to be fifty pounds heavier. I was the gal who didn't get the date in high school, so now that I'm being asked to play sexy roles it's kind of a personal triumph for me. I remember when I was nineteen years old; I was working as a nanny, eating ice cream out of the carton, watching Oprah Winfrey and dreaming of things like this. I never thought it would happen, but it has. The hardest part is that people assume that if you have breasts, you don't have a brain-and that's just not true."

The Lost Continent, People that Time Forgot, Jesus Christ Superstar

I do remember when THE LOST CONTINENT (1968) first came out, I went to the premiere. But I thought I'd go and see the film again sort of anonymously in the local ABC in the Fulharn Road. And I went in and sat up the back to watch it and, the moment when I come on with these balloons on my shoulders, the whole audience fell about with laughter. Then I realized there's no point ever being taken seriously in the film world. But you know, if you're born with a particular shape, you're judged on how you look. It's a nuisance, and that's why I've always preferred music for my profession- because it really doesn't matter what color or
shape or size you are."

"There's nothing I regret doing. There are a few things that I regret other people didn't do; namely, being able to see beyond the visual in my case. It's always been odd for me that people judge me on how I look. I know I'm dealing in a business where we're judged by what's skin deep and not underneath it all. But I don't judge men like that..."

"I've never understood how men- I'm talking about 25 years ago-treated me. It was very much physical. And I think people are a bit peculiar.... Somehow, if you started off on that game of being those 'breathe-in and smile' girls, you got stuck with it and the only way I was able to get out was because I had a voice."

Krull, Dracula: Dead and Loving It, Dark Shadows, Husbands and Wives

"I was just meant to be there, with my tits hanging out, looking ridiculously glamorous. And, no, I didn't find it offensive being that sort of sexy foiL  Lucky me just to have spent a few months working with Mel, one of the comic greats of our time. Love him or hate him, he's one of the founders of what this generation finds
funny now."

Curse of Frankenstein, The Raven, The Man Who Could Cheat Death

"Yes, I did a nude scene... well, just my top part for the European version (of The Man Who Could Cheat Death). I was being sculpted by Anton Diffring, who played an artist-the title role, in fact. It was one of the first scenes of its kind to be shot in England. They cleared the set and had just a skeleton crew. Well, the movie warranted my nudity. The character did have to be sculpted, that was part of it. If it hadn't been warranted, I would have objected ... but it was beautifully done. It was a shot that no one could object to. There I am, front and back!"

Star Crash, Dracula AD 1972, Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter

"I didn't want to do it. We discussed it beforehand, because I didn't feel it was really necessary. But they wanted it to appear nude, so we came to a compromise. My hair was a lot longer in those days-the locks covered my upper chest-I actually used some sort of gaffer's tape to stick it down, so I felt quite secure
in that sense. And then I donned a pair of flesh-color knickers and I was all right, it was like being on the
beach, really."

"Oh, I suppose that was the way films were going in general, so-- I sort of came in at the end of it. I always feel my time would have been more in the '50s, when it was more in the imagination than like now. These days, you can see everything-sadly, nothing is left to the imagination."


  1. If it's a Gilligan post you can be confident there won't be any sleazy boob shots that deliberately arouse shameful prurience [SNARL]

  2. DANA GILLESPIE is also a very gifted singer.

  3. Betsy Russell - oh god, she was unbelievable in Private School. Stupid movie but wow, she stole the whole movie, no joke. Weird reading these comments though because she's been quoted of being proud of her body in that movie and didn't feel bad about it at all.

  4. I always had a soft spot for Madeleine Smith; from Hammer to Up Pompei, via The Persuaders, she always managed to steal the show in a very understated way.