In this day and age, there seems to be more ways to become famous than ever before. There are the classics of course, like becoming a famous actor, politician, musician and writer. Then there are a few new-school methods, like turning yourself into a YouTube or social media sensation, or you could star in a reality show, or just famous for being rich. For this list, we’re looking at a group of women who have reached some level of renown simply based off appearing in nude scenes that are so hot they are impossible to forget.
The rules for the list are pretty straight forward, of course. We looked at women who weren’t well known until they appeared naked on film. It doesn’t matter if the scene was shot for film or television. The resulting fame also didn’t need to be long-lasting or even wide-reaching, so actresses that appeared in scenes that have since become remembered as being among the sexiest ever were up for consideration. Appearing nude in videos without any kind of story was not enough to make our list which meant Emily Ratajkowski’s appearance in the music video for Blurred Lines, unfortunately didn’t count.
20 Eva Amurri Martino – Californication
When Eva Amurri Martino was introduced in Californication, as a student of the show’s main character who is revealed as a stripper before bedding Duchovny’s character, she was known as Susan Sarandon’s daughter. Sure, she already played one of the leads in the underrated teen comedy Saved, but since that movie went largely under the radar, few people seemed to notice. Cut to her seductive pole dance in this captivating scene and suddenly she was Susan’s mind-boggling hot daughter. Looking at her filmography since this scene, she’d previously gone years without getting work and it is clear that casting agents took notice. She received a pivotal part in That’s My Boy and made appearances on New Girl, The Mindy Project and Undateable.
19 Ruby Rose – Orange is the New Black
A former model and MTV VJ in her homeland of Australia, Ruby Rose had made a name for herself down under but in North America, Ruby Rose sounded like nothing more than the name of a lipstick. Then we woke up on June 11th, 2015, to a world where Orange is the New Black’s third season was released and overnight she was seen as one of the sexiest women alive. A heavily tattooed woman with a magnificent rack, it wasn’t until the ninth episode that we got a view of what she is working with but that didn’t stop those who binge-watched the show in a night from talking. Cast in three major sequels, in the John Wick, xXx, and Resident Evil franchises, all set to come out in 2017, it is immensely obvious what role made the difference in her career.
18 Jessica Paré – Hot Tub Time Machine
Best known today as Megan Draper, Don Draper’s wife in later seasons of Mad Men, Jessica had already been working for years by the time she got that role. Work in movies like Lost and Delirious, where she played a young woman struggling with her sexuality, had earned the respect of some film buffs but to most of the world Jessica was an unknown entity. Then Jessica Paré played Tara, a youngster who Craig Robinson’s character in Hot Tub Time Machine must bed down in order to save their timeline. Getting dirty with a sobbing Robinson in a hot tub, the scene was hilarious but that didn’t stop viewers from enjoying her curvaceous figure. An unforgettable scene for those who’ve beheld it, the moment made all the difference in this young woman’s career.
17 Adèle Exarchopoulos & Léa Seydoux - Blue Is the Warmest Colour
Blue Is the Warmest Colour is a dramatic movie that heavily depended on two talented young actresses pulling off fully fleshed out characters to make the highly relatable tale work. Chances are, though, the vast majority of people who are aware of this film only know one thing, the film’s two stars took part in a six minute long lesbian love scene. Guttural and sexy, or laughable and awkward depending on your perspective, the scene still garnered an immense amount of attention around the world. Taking Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos, the former of whom had received some big roles and the latter of which was starting out, the movie made them much bigger deals. Léa managed to get a role in The Grand Budapest Hotel and even was tapped to be a Bond girl in this scene’s aftermath, while Adèle has three films set to come out this year.
16 Nathalie Emmanuel – Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones has become an absolute pop culture juggernaut since it came out, arguably creating more stars than any project in years. People like Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington, Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams, have become players in the show’s wake, but they played important characters. Certainly the woman who was cast to play a translator and sometimes adviser to one of the show’s stars wouldn’t be too hot coming off the role. Then Nathalie Emmanuel was seen in the buff, bathing herself in a river and suddenly people knew who she was. Given a major role in Furious 7, the upcoming sequel Fast 8, and the Maze Runner franchise, they all began being released months after this role aired. Doesn’t seem like a coincidence to us.
15 Shannon Elizabeth – American Pie
When American Pie came out in 1999 it became a massive hit to the surprise of pretty much everyone. It also managed to usher in a whole new era of the teen s*x comedy. A key element in that genre, of course, is that it is pretty much required that you cast a nude woman to play the focal point of a young walking libido’s lust. Enter Shannon Elizabeth who played Nadia, a foreign exchange student that the movie's star couldn’t help but fixate on. Creepily caught on camera without her knowledge, Nadia’s fit frame and topless body were broadcast over the internet and viewed by film goers everywhere. A small but unforgettable part of the film, she received big roles in movies like Thirteen Ghosts, Scary Movie and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back afterwards. All despite her horrific accent and lack of acting skill in the role that briefly made her a star.
14 Natasha Henstridge – Species
A Canadian fashion model, Natasha Henstridge’s first acting role came about when she played Sil, a half-human/half alien hybrid who is compelled to procreate. The fame she enjoyed had a lot to do with the fact that she spent a large portion of the film undressed. The film’s antagonist, she managed to work with stars like Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, Matthew Perry, Jason Statham and Ice Cube, in big releases afterwards. You may be thinking that it may have actually been her acting in Species that earned these immense opportunities but for those of you who haven’t seen the film, let us tell you how wrong you are. The portrayal of Sil, in her hands at least, was one that was almost entirely emotionless. A blank slate who seduced men via her body instead of her actions, her ability to betray zero range of emotion never came up in any of the roles that she received in the years that followed.
13 Rebecca De Mornay – Risky Business
A film that is best remembered for turning Tom Cruise into a real star and his skivvies-adorned dance scene, it sometimes is forgotten what Risky Business did for Rebecca De Mornay. A beautiful blonde playing a woman of the night (or prostitute for the uninitiated), she was able to come off as confident, comely and mature far beyond her years with the greatest of ease. However, the moment that really made an impact on massive amounts of film goers was when she and her co-star had a s*x scene where she quickly undressed, save for some heels. An eighties s*x symbol, thereafter, Rebecca went on to be in movies like Runaway Train, Backdraft, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle and The Three Musketeers, afterwards.
12 Eva Green – The Dreamers
Unquestionably one of the most sought after actresses today when it comes to casting a sexually confident and dynamic woman on-screen, Eva Green’s film debut set the film world on fire. Appearing in The Dreamers, a film in which she is involved with two young men, she showed virtually every inch of her body, which somehow left us still wanting more. Luckily for all of us, Ridley Scott clearly saw her work and started the ball rolling by casting her in his film, Kingdom of Heaven, and her career has never looked back. Casino Royale, 300: Rise of an Empire, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Penny Dreadful, all of these are big film or television projects that have used this French actress to provide them with sexiness in spades. She is more than up to that challenge.
11 Natalie Dormer – Game of Thrones
Remember when we were talking about the people who were made famous due to their parts in Game of Thrones? Well, fans may have noticed two major names that were left out and we’re here to assure you it was intentional since we didn’t want to tip our hand. Natalie Dormer, one of the women in question, had previously enjoyed a role in The Tudors, but it wasn’t until Margaery Tyrell dropped her gear in an attempt to seduce her husband that we really took note. Seen completely topless, her character was fully aware that her husband was actually homosexual and initially seemed confident that her body may make him feel differently. Unsurprisingly it didn’t work but she was so confident in herself that she didn’t skip a beat, outlined her need to have his baby and tried to give him help by offering to have a man help out. The way the whole scene played out is far from the typical scene we’ve come to know but there was just something so hot about both her gorgeous looks we barely took note. Still a major player on the show today, Natalie has spread her wings with roles in the TV show Elementary, and most impressively a highly coveted part in the final two Hunger Games movies.
10 Alexandra Daddario – True Detective
True Detective’s first season is one of the most roundly respected entries in television’s recent years, which is really saying something. Starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, the series seriously meant a lot to both of their careers but there is no actor it did more for than Alexandra Daddario, the young woman who played Woody’s lover. She was seen with absolutely nothing on. Her body is simply a work of art which had people around the world reaching for the rewind button on their remote. In the few years since, she gained work in San Andreas, the hit movie starring The Rock, who she is set to work with again soon in Baywatch, and the TV show American Horror Story.
9 Bo Derek – 10
Let’s face it, Dudley Moore was really funny and charming but in the looks department he was a regular dude at best. Bo Derek on the other hand, his lover in the movie 10, has to be on the shortlist of the most attractive people who have become stars in Hollywood, which of course would be a highly competitive field. An actress who is mostly known for taking part in a seemingly endless amount of films that heavily featured her in the buff, much of her work was sorely panned. We can’t really blame her for thinking that nudity might be the key to having a lengthy career in Hollywood, however, as she very clearly owed her fame to being nude on-screen. A woman so hot that she was able to make white girl braids look good, when the world saw her laying on a bed, revealing her delightful butt and body, she became a sensation. The fact that the poster of her running in a swimsuit on the beach is seconded in fame only by the classic Farrah Fawcett poster, goes to show how powerful this role and scene were.
8 Maggie Gyllenhaal – Secretary
Maggie Gyllenhaal is an enormously talented actress who doesn’t get nearly enough credit for her chameleonic abilities. She is graceful and good-looking in The Dark Knight, Intense and irresistible in Stranger than Fiction, but her energy that we will never forget was when she was restrained and ravishing in Secretary. Playing a submissive secretary who becomes involved with her dominant boss, seeing her exquisite body while she takes part in some adventurous activities, she made a lot of people go wild. She was nominated and won a bunch of different awards for her performance in the movie but most importantly, her acting career really took off based on the name her work here made for herself. She owed, at least a large part, of the attention she received for the role to her willingness to put herself out there if you catch our drift.
7 Emilia Clarke – Game of Thrones
Alright, alright, after this entry we’re done with Game of Thrones. It would be nearly impossible for us to argue that Daenerys Targaryen, the character played by this, now famous, actress, is not one of the most kick-a** women ever put on screen. The Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons, to name but two of her monikers, she has an iron will, forces those that oppose her to bend or break but also shows great mercy to those that are just. Introduced years earlier as a woman who was firmly under the thumb of her brother, she was thrust into a world she feared and didn’t understand. Nude in her very first scene, Emilia Clarke was a sensation from that moment on. We’d definitely like to think that she would be well-known today if she never appeared in the buff, but the truth of the matter is that her nude debut set the ball rolling on the fame she enjoys today.
6 Selma Hayek – Desperado
A tiny woman with a huge personality and a bountiful bust, when Selma Hayek was first introduced to the world in Desperado, she was able to out-sexy Antonio Banderas. Sure, you may feel differently depending on your sexual preference, but there were a lot of people who felt that way, which is incredible. When the two future stars took part in a s*x scene, it was only Selma that showed any of her private parts and maybe, just maybe that is why she is a bigger star today. Either way, she was an actress who had never appeared in a major release at that point and then graduated to roles in movies like From Dusk till Dawn, 54, The Faculty and Dogma, to name a few.
5 Heather Graham – Boogie Nights
A marvelous movie, Boogie Nights looked at the adult film industry at its absolute height. It therefore may not come as a surprise to many that it involved more than one actor appearing in various stages of undress. Heather Graham, the actress who played Roller Girl, an adult actress who never appeared without her trademark footwear, gave a respectable performance but being honest, that was not what many observers took away from her part. In an early scene in the movie, Roller Girl was tasked with giving a perspective male performer a tryout. Taking off the dress she was wearing at the time in a single move, she could be seen in all her glory in a far faster and sexier fashion than anyone could have expected. Having worked in film for several years at that point, her career went on a remarkably different trajectory at that point. Cast in highly touted Hollywood fare like Lost in Space, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and Bowfinger, in the next two years alone, she seems to have owed a new momentum to a single scene.
4 Denise Richards – Wild Things
Wild Things is one of the hottest movies that was released in the entirety of the nineties. An erotic thriller that placed a trio of lovers and a detective in direct opposition of one another, the film was sold on its sexy tone. It then may come as a surprise to those who haven’t seen it that there was only one woman who appeared in the buff, Denise Richards, who was more than worth the ticket price. A buxom beauty who had champagne poured on her chest and sucked off, she became a mainstay of lists of the sexiest women alive instantly. Having only been given a major role in the movie Starship Troopers beforehand, which totally flopped, she owed her later opportunities to the fame her nudity created. She even got to be a Bond Girl in The World Is Not Enough, where she was supposed to be a nuclear physicist, a role she lacked the depth to even come close to pull off.
3 Margot Robbie – The Wolf of Wall Street
The most recent star to make this list, Margot Robbie’s post Wolf of Wall Street career hasn’t come to an end yet, so we’re unsure how well she will be able to capitalize on the momentum her nudity created. She seems to have some real acting chops but we balk at anyone who thinks that she would be where she is today if she hadn’t gotten undressed in this film. Look no further than the fact that her roles in Focus, Suicide Squad, and even her cameo in The Big Short, all largely depend on her sex appeal. Margot Robbie seems like she has what it takes to be a massive star, we really hope that comes to fruition but she got there partly for other reasons.
2 Phoebe Cates – Fast Times at Ridgemont High
The second role Phoebe Cates ever received, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, led to roles in the Gremlins franchise and the cult classic comedy Drop Dead Fred. Upon reflection of her actual role in Fast Times, it is abundantly clear that the character she played could have been easily forgotten save for her legendary nude scene and an earlier scene with a carrot. The fact that Mr. Skin, the expert on on-screen nudity referred to the scene where she revealed her chest after coming out of a pool as the best nude scene ever is the best testament to how much this moment meant.
1 Sharon Stone – Basic Instinct
By the time Sharon Stone repositioned her legs while being grilled by a detective on-screen in Basic Instinct, she had already been bouncing around Hollywood for years. Cast in Magnum P.I., Above the Law, Action Jackson and Total Recall, in the years prior, everything completely changed for Sharon after this film became a sensual sensation in 1992. Instantly made into a star, she would go on to headline films like Sliver, The Specialist, The Quick and the Dead, Casino, Sphere, and others in the years that followed. In fact fourteen years later, when Sharon’s career had begun to wane, she returned to the character that had made her a star, which may not have worked the way she wanted but shows how Sharon viewed the role.