People can try to deny it, but if the vast majority of us didn’t like to see skin in our films, the producers and directors wouldn’t put it in, right? So for the sake of this list, let’s not pretend that this is a topic everyone else cares about, except you.
From roughly 1970 to 2000, more films were made with an R rating than any other. It’s only been in the last decade that PG and PG-13 has taken over the box office. It’s simple math that dictates creating less offensive movies that people of all ages can see would make more money than those that do. While the amount of nudity in mainstream films you can see at the neighborhood cineplex has dropped off, thankfully there is still a healthy independent film scene and cable has been turning out high quality series that don’t have to follow the rules of network TV.
It’s probably just the way humans are wired, when you think about it. We have an interest in nudity and we have an obsession with celebrity, combine the two and it just makes sense. When a major celebrity does a scene in the buff, it’s sometimes big news. When Halle Berry went topless for the film Swordfish, the media made a huge deal that she was paid an extra $2 million for the nudity. Then there are other times that mainstream actresses show some skin and it flies completely under the radar. It’s time to put them back on the radar, so here are 10 major actresses who have scenes in the buff you may have forgotten.
10 Amanda Seyfried
If it seems like Amanda Seyfried has been in every movie made in the last 15 years, it’s because she almost has. From Mean Girls to Mamma Mia! to Dear John to Ted 2, it’s hard to go more than a month or two without seeing Seyfried pop up on the big screen or guest starring on a TV show. While she did give fleeting glimpses of her body in the movies Alpha Dog and Chloe, it wasn’t until she took on the role of famous adult film star Linda Lovelace that Seyfried jumped fully into clothingless waters. The film, aptly titled Lovelace, was in very few movie theaters for a short time, so it’s largely been ignored, but it will probably go down as the gold standard for Seyfried nudity in films going forward.
9 Reese Witherspoon
Before there were a horrible series of movies based on a horrible series of books about vampires and before there was an actress who made only cutesy films like Legally Blonde and Sweet Home Alabama, there was Reese Witherspoon in the non-vampire movie Twilight. The drama, which features an amazing cast including Paul Newman, Gene Hackman, Susan Sarandon and James Garner, was made in 1998, the same year Witherspoon did Pleasantville and the year before she did both Cruel Intentions and Election. You don’t have to look far to find this scene as it happens just a couple of minutes into the film.
8 Portia de Rossi
Portia de Rossi first came to America’s attention when she starred in the lawyer drama-comedy Ally McBeal and has gone on to be a regular in several series, including Nip/Tuck, Arrested Development and Scandal, which she’s currently appearing on. Before those shows, however, she made her acting debut in the film Sirens, where she plays one of Sam Neill’s many artistic muses. Most of the attention for the nudity in the film went to supermodel Elle MacPherson, who was appearing without her clothes for the first time. The other claim to fame de Rossi will be remembered for is as Ellen Degeneres’ longtime partner.
7 Melanie Lynskey
Most people probably closely identify Melanie Lynskey with the character of Rose, the psychotic neighbor from Two And A Half Men who was obsessed with Charlie Sheen’s character, but Lynskey has had a successful career in both television and film in many countries dating back to the late 1990s. Almost everything has been with her clothes on, but she did lose her shirt in some obscure roles: Park, from 2006 and Togetherness from 2015 are her most recent. Her first role ever featured her taking a bath with Kate Winslet in 1994’s Heavenly Creatures. She’s got six projects set to be released in 2016. Here’s to hoping we get to see more of Melanie in at least one of them.
6 Scarlett Johansson
Considering how many men had been waiting to see more of Scarlett Johansson on the big screen, it’s surprising how few people have ever heard of Under the Skin. The movie only made a little over $2 million when it made it to the big screen in 2013. The film can definitely be called artsy as Johansson basically plays a woman driving around Scotland in a van seducing lonely guys. She’s the only big-name actress in the film and spends a surprising amount of time completely naked. Interestingly, in the closing credits, none of the characters are listed, just the actors names, much like they usually appear in opening credits.
5 Helen Hunt
She’s best known for her role as Paul Reiser’s wife from NBC’s Mad About You from the 1990s, but Helen Hunt has been an actress since she was eight years old and has nearly 100 acting gigs to her credit, but they are very sparse on any skin showing. Prior to landing her major TV job, Hunt (who also serves as a heck of a doppleganger for Leelee Sobieski) bared it all in a brief scene in a little-known film called The Waterdance. However, it was her appearance in the film Sessions that really caught everyone’s attention. Made in 2012, when Hunt was 49, she goes full frontal for several scenes. Who knows what her motivation was, but we’re glad it finally happened.
4 Meg Ryan
Most will remember Meg Ryan as the “It Girl” in 101 romantic comedies in the late 1980s. Whether it was with Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally or Tom Hanks in Sleepless in Seattle or You’ve Got Mail, Ryan was the go-to actress when you needed a cute, slightly quirky female lead for someone to fall in love with on screen. However, actresses age and new ones are always coming up, so the young women roles in these films started to go to others and Ryan was relegated to bit parts in major movies, or roles in independent films. One film, 2003’s In The Cut featured Ryan, at 42 years old, completely bare for the first time in a movie. It didn’t lead to great future films, just a lot of people talking about why she’d had such obvious plastic surgery on her face.
3 Kelly Preston
In the early 1980s, the beautiful Kelly Preston was making a name for herself as a frequent guest star on popular television shows and had begun a movie career, with Christine and Space Camp being among her early films. In 1985, when Brat Pack, John Hughes and Teenage Hijinks movies were all popular genres, Preston got in on the action, starring in three movies in a row that didn’t require her clothes for every seen. They were 52 Pick-Up, Mischief and Secret Admirer. Her next role was in the blockbuster Twins, which didn’t require nudity. She followed that up with the straight-to-video (now known as straight to video-on-demand) clunker The Experts. On that set she met John Travolta, whom she married not long thereafter. Her career continued at a decent pace for around a decade although she’s slowed considerably, and kept all her clothes on, ever since marrying Travolta.
2 Molly Ringwald
She was the ultimate girl next door who mixed a cuteness, wry sense of humor, intelligence and that bit of charisma that made every guy want to date her and girl want to be here. With movies like Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club on her resume, she could have easily never worked once she got too old for roles as a teenager. She didn’t make the transition into adult roles in blockbusters, but did OK the following years in straight-to-video and independent films. In 1995, she went topless for about two seconds in the movie Malicious and that’s the only nudity she has ever done in film. These days, she’s doing well in basic cable TV series like The Secret Life of the American Teenager, finally playing Mom roles with actresses who were her age when she made it big.
1 Gwyneth Paltrow
Since it won Best Picture in 1998, most people are familiar with the brief nudity displayed by Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love. This was around the time when Paltrow seemed like she was on the verge of superstardom. She soon married Coldplay’s lead singer and stopped taking a lot of jobs. However, she did get naked two other times. First in Sylvia from 2003 where she played tortured poet Sylvia Plath. In Thanks For Sharing from 2013, Paltrow opens her shirt in a window, revealing her breasts to Joaquin Phoenix, who is watching from below. Now that she’s no longer Mrs. Coldplay, maybe her schedule will get busier again, but at 42, her days of skin showing may be behind her.