Most of the time, it’s easy to tell when a woman is pregnant after a few months, particularly if she’s starring in a television show. However, you’d be surprised to find out that many well-known actresses were pregnant while filming. With earnings being as high as almost a million dollars per episode for some of them, it’s no surprise that they wanted to continue working for as long as they could.
It’s not as difficult to cover up a pregnant belly since technology has advanced, and the cost of CGI has gone down considerably. However, numerous shows have chosen to go the old-fashioned route by putting an actress behind a wall, having her sit on a couch, or using a large prop to cover up her pregnant belly.
Let’s take a look at some of the most surprising pregnancies by actresses who continued working on set just weeks, or days before going into labor.
10. Angela Kinsey – The Office
Angela Kinsey, actress of the hit US television series The Office, announced her pregnancy in November of 2008 during its 4th season. She chose to continue playing her character, Angela Martin, after finding out she had a child on the way. To hide her belly, she would often sit behind her desk, stand next to a wall, or poke her head over the high cubicle walls when delivering lines. However, her screen time was reduced during her motherly state.
During an interview with People magazine, the petite actress commented on filming while pregnant: “The great thing is we’re in an office. It’s not Law & Order. I don’t gotta like walk around a crime scene. I can be behind a file cabinet, Xeroxing — a lot of photocopying for me!” She returned to the show after giving birth and stayed until the series finale in 2013.
9. Leah Remini – King of Queens
Leah Remini is known for her role in the hit CBS show, The King of Queens, where she played Carrie Heffernan from 1998-2007. Unlike many actresses who only gained a small amount of weight while pregnant, she gained more than 80 pounds. However, the show made it seem like the writers intentionally did this. During the 6th season she was unemployed, working from home, and always in baggy clothing. By the end of the season, it became obvious that Leah was carrying although she would often shoot behind a kitchen counter or sofa. Her face was noticeably puffy and there is even a shot of her pregnant belly. However, the show continued shooting without any explanation to the public.
8. Lisa Kudrow – Friends
Lisa Kudrow played one of the main characters in television sitcom Friends, which is the main reason why having her disappear for several episodes wasn’t an option in the ensemble show. So, her pregnancy in 2007 was written into seasons 4 and 5. The producers had her character, Phoebe, pregnant with triplets as a surrogate mother. Since her half brother’s wife couldn’t get pregnant, she decided to help them out. Lisa had to wear extra padding when filming since she was much smaller than the average woman having that many children. As a result of being so close to giving birth, Lisa couldn’t fly to London (which was also written into the show) to film the season 4 finale. She gave birth right around the time that episode aired on television.
7. Amy Poehler – Parks and Recreation
Actress and comedian Amy Poehler became pregnant with her second child in 2010 with husband Will Arnett while she starred in the show, Parks and Recreation. Producers decided to speed up production while she was pregnant and shot the first six episodes of season three immediately after wrapping up season two so they could be saved for a specific air date. They also did this so that everything was filmed before Amy had to go on maternity leave. The funny actress may have been making the audience laugh while carrying, but she was so early into her pregnancy that you couldn’t even tell.
6. Sarah Jessica Parker – Sex and the City
Sarah Jessica Parker played one of the most iconic roles on television as Carrie Bradshaw in the television show Sex in the City from 1998-2004. She also had some of the best clothes and designers in the world at her disposal to create terrific outfits when she was pregnant during season 5 of the show. The custom designs and loose clothing worked well for a while, but there are many moments you can clearly see her pregnant belly. Eventually, the show decided to go on hiatus and the season was only eight episodes long.
5. Cobie Smulders – How I Met Your Mother
Cobie Smulders got pregnant around the same time her co-star on hit show How I Met Your Mother, Alyson Hannigan, did in 2008. Her pregnancy wasn’t written into the show so the plan was simple: hide it. Cobie carried large handbags to cover her belly while filming. She also wore loose clothing with typical midriff-hiding tricks. In one scene, Hannigan showed off her bulging belly as a joke after she won an eating contest. Of course, viewers knew she was really pregnant and it wasn’t caused by food.
Executive producer and co-creator of the show, Craig Thomas, said the following to the Chicago Tribune about Cobie’s grace while on set during a complicated shot: “She was amazing and she went as long as she could. But there were moments when she was like, ‘I must sit down now.”
4. Phylicia Rashad – The Cosby Show
When the producers from The Cosby Show found out actress Phylicia Rashad was pregnant, they had to think of creative ways to hide her belly. It wouldn’t make sense for her character, Clair Huxtable, to suddenly be expecting a child unless she was having an affair which viewers would find unbelievable. So, the show would scoop a hole out of a mattress to hide her growing belly, have her wear large sweaters, and place her behind kitchen counters. She was also often seen at a desk or elevated table during season 3. Perhaps the most obvious sign of her pregnancy was when she was seated behind a huge stuffed bear while on a couch.
3. January Jones – Mad Men
Actress January Jones rocked a fat suit for her character, Betty Draper, in the television show Mad Men when she was pregnant. While she gained some weight during her real-life pregnancy, the naturally thin actress had to wear a prosthetic facial and neck appliance for season five to look more curvy. She also had a back double to make her story line as effective as possible; her character was going through depression and emotional issues due to issues with her husband, Henry. In several interviews she explained how it took 5-6 hours to get the prosthetics on as well as the suit. Shortly after giving birth to her child, Xander, she was back to her normal size.
2. Kelly Rutherford – Gossip Girl
In 2009, the public found out that one of the stars of Gossip Girl was pregnant. Eventually, we found out who it was: Kelly Rutherford. Producers decided not to write it into the show and often had her in baggy clothing. The then 40-year-old continued filming for all of season 2, and you can clearly see numerous shots where her baby belly is showing. During an interview, the actress talked about what it was like working on set during that time: “We have such a nice set because people bring their kids and their dogs. It looks like we’re running a doggy daycare in the makeup room, it’s really something.” Since the show ended, Kelly has been going through an intense custody battle that has left her on the brink of bankruptcy.
1. Julia-Louis Dreyfus – Seinfeld
Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus and star of smash hit television sitcom Seinfeld didn’t do much to hide her pregnancy during season 3. The producers went the traditional route by covering her up with boxes and various props such as pillows. She also carried large items to cover her belly, and even hid behind things such as a block of knives. Julia was also pregnant during season 8, but the producers didn’t try to cover it up although she was noticeably heavier. Rarely does a show ignore a pregnancy by not addressing it in some way, but in this case that’s exactly what happened.