Most teenage boys first crushes come watching girls of the same age on television shows and in the movies. Quite often, as with music, it’s one-and-done and you never hear from the girl ever again such as Tracy Wells from Mr. Belvedere or Shannon Elizabeth in American Pie. Wells has gone on to be a realtor and Elizabeth is a professional poker player. For those females who decide to stay in Hollywood after their big teenage debut and make a run at it, there are only two outcomes: success and failure. For every child star like Jodie Foster who went to amazing careers there are a hundred whose IMDb listings are full of jobs that almost nobody ever heard of and even few people have seen.
One of the tried-and-true ways for these starlets to attempt to stay relevant, while they cross their fingers that their careers will continue on after their defining role, is to show that they are no longer a “kid” anymore. The formula many seem to take to prove they are an adult is to show the fact they’re bodies are those of adult women by removing their clothes.
In this world of PG-13 movies and quality cable television shows, there are plenty of other ways to make a splash, but for those once-teenage boys, it’s a treat, but never a surprise when yet another actress takes off her top. The problem is, the formula is broken. It almost always results in a negative career hit, not the boost that is intended. We don’t know what would have happened with these women if they kept their clothes on, but we know taking them off didn’t help anything. Here are 11 former teen stars whose nudity hurt their careers.
11. Kirsten Dunst
When you run down Kirsten Dunst’s resume, it’s pretty impressive. She burst onto the scene as a child in the Tom Cruise/Bratt Pitt vampire flick Interview with The Vampire, becoming arguably the busiest young woman in Hollywood, turning out a string of both box office hits and cult classics including Jumanji, The Virgin Suicides, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Bring it On and Dick. Her career showed no signs of slowing down, landing roles in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the Spiderman films. Then, in 2011, came Melancholia, the tale of two sisters coming to grips with their relationship with Armageddon looming. It was noteworthy only in that after more than 30 credits, Dunst finally did a topless scene. Since then, bomb after bomb with her only critically acclaim coming from the basic cable series Fargo.
10. Jessica Biel
Some actresses have no trouble transitioning from television to movies and others just never get the traction they need. Jessica Biel, who was carving a nice career out for herself as one of the leads in the popular, and wholesome show 7th Heaven decided to play against her good-girl image when she appeared in Powder Blue. The forgettable film features Biel as a stripper and includes your stereotypical gratuitous scene. Despite small roles in a few films over the years, her lasting legacy will be less about her film work and more about the fact she became Mrs. Justin Timberlake.
9. Katie Holmes
Katie Holmes appeared to be on the brink of major stardom when she disappeared. With a successful run as Joey, the girl next door who every guy wish actually lived next door, on Dawson’s Creek, Holmes started appearing in major Hollywood films including Go, The Ice Storm and Batman Begins. Shortly thereafter she became Mrs. Tom Cruise and her work schedule got very sparse. Thankfully, before she married Capt. Scientology, she appeared topless in the forgotten film The Gift, as a two-timing woman trying to frame Greg Kinnear. Now that she’s free of Cruise, it’s interesting to see where her career will go.
8. Christina Ricci
If your first swing at nudity doesn’t tank your career, try again. Most of the world was introduced to Christina Ricci as Wednesday Addams in the Addams Family movies of the early 1990s. She spent the rest of the decade popping up regularly in movies such as Now and Then, The Ice Storm and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. In 2001, Ricci crossed the clothingless threshold in the opening minutes of Proac Nation, a horrible movie based on a terrific book. The next five years were bleak, with a role opposite Charlize Theron in Monster being her only big screen work of note. Perhaps to try and jumpstart things, she took it all off again in 2006 in Black Snake Moan. The last 10 years haven’t been kind to Ricci with unknown short films, forgettable TV appearances, and video game and cartoon voiceover work representing the years after her last naked appearance.
7. Alyssa Milano
What is it that causes a beautiful young actress, with her teenage years and huge TV role just behind her, the need to prove she’s now a woman by choosing a horrible first movie with gratuitous nudity? Alyssa Milano’s career could have gone anywhere after the end of Who’s The Boss, but the one-two punch of Embrace of the Vampire and Poison Ivy II, undoubtedly chosen to prove she was no longer a child actor also put a damper on her big screen options as an adult actor. She went on to regular roles in TV shows Melrose Place, Charmed, My Name is Earl and Mistresses, but her IMDb listing is decidedly lacking on movies following those two nude bombs.
6. Neve Campbell
In the late 1990s, Neve Campbell looked like she was going to go onto a great career in Hollywood. She was at the end of a six-season run as the star of popular teen drama Party of Five and had top billing in the first three Scream movies. When she took on roles in sexy films, such as Wild Things, 54 and Investigating Sex, she kept her clothes on to the chagrin of her many male fans. Then, after a slow 2001-03, Campbell appeared in an extended topless scene in the forgetable When Will I Be Loved. There’s nothing memorable in her career over the last decade with the exception of reprising the role of Sidney Prescott in Scream 4 back in 2011.
5. Dana Plato
Any television show or magazine that runs an article on troubled child stars has to stop and pay proper homage to Diff’rent Strokes, an early ’80s sitcom about a rich white Manhattan man and his daughter, played by Dana Plato, who take a pair of inner-city brothers into their homes allowing the juxtapositioning of their lives to be played for laughs. Plato left the show due to drug abuse problems toward the end of the series. She disappeared from Hollywood to allegedly get her act together, but found a tough time getting mainstream roles upon her return in 1995. After taking her first role with nudity in B-movie Compelling Evidence, Plato was pigeonholed and soon found B-movies out of her league as softcore straight-to-video movies were the best she could get. After a handful of these, she allegedly fell back into drug use and was found dead of suicide after an overdose in 1999.
4. Mischa Barton
Mischa Barton’s IMDb listing has around two dozen listings in the five-year span of 2012 to 2016, but if you’ve heard of even one of them, you’ve got a more obscure knowledge of Hollywood than us. After small roles in the films Lost and Delirious, Notting Hill and The Sixth Sense, Barton got her first major television role in Once and Again, which ran for a couple of seasons and then her star-making turn in The OC. Her first role after that popular teen drama was the independent film Closing the Ring, which is remembered less for its plot and more for Barton making love to her boyfriend outdoors. Her resume shows plenty of work since then, but maybe she should have waited to take her top off for a few years to see if the career took hold first.
3. Lisa Bonet
Lisa Bonet is still best known to every living person as Heathcliff Huxtable’s oldest daughter Denise on The Cosby Show and her own spin-off, A Different World. The one-time wife of Lenny Kravitz (whose mother played Helen Willis on The Jeffersons), Bonet created the template by which Elizabeth Berkley would follow years later in taking on a role with heavy sexual overtones and nudity for her first starring role in a feature film. Playing a voodoo priestess who enjoys getting it on with Mickey Rourke while chicken blood falls from the ceiling seems like a great career move, right? In interviews, Bonet said she would only do the role with Bill Cosby’s blessing. He granted it, which doesn’t seem so surprising in retrospect.
2. Nicole Eggert
Most people remember Eggert as the other blonde, Summer Quinn, on the epic lifeguard drama Baywatch, but she first got the attention of teenage boys everywhere playing oldest sibling Jamie Powell on the Scott Baio show Charles in Charge and with season-long guest starring story arcs on TJ Hooker and Who’s The Boss. As her time on Baywatch was coming to an end, Eggert, likely eager to show her more adult side appeared topless in the movie Blown Away. Maybe it wasn’t the nudity, but appearing in a movie with both Corey Haim and Corey Feldman that hurt her career. Regardless, she’s been lucky to get a TV guest shot or a movie of the week in the last 20 years.
1. Elizabeth Berkley
You had to wonder what she was thinking and how she couldn’t see that this was going to destroy her career before it really took off. Nonetheless, Elizabeth Berkley, known only to the world at that point for her work as brainiac Jessie Spano on the NBC Saturday morning high school sitcom Saved by The Bell, decided her first big-budget film should be one given the dreaded NC-17 rating and feature her completely naked for a good portion of the movie. As cult classics go, it’s hard to argue with the cheesy campness of Showgirls, but it killed any chances of Berkley doing regular serious work from that point forward. She has guest-starred on plenty of network shows, been in a handful of Lifetime woman-in-peril movies and will never be forgotten because of Showgirls, but if she was hoping for career quality, perhaps her top… and bottom… should have stayed on.