It’s been said that it’s nearly impossible to be an actress in Hollywood without someone using a body double at some point. Whether it’s needed or not, just about every starlet in town has been pushed to bare it all on camera. Some have done so and quite often show no qualms. Others have refused and even have contracts to ensure they don’t show it all off on camera. But lately, there has been a rise in a unique bit where actresses are able to better trick audiences into thinking they’re in the buff when they’re not. In Machete, Jessica Alba looked like it under a shower but it turns out she was in underwear and CGI took care of the rest. Likewise, Olivia Wilde’s steamy scene in The Change-Up was CGI to make this easier. Yet there’s still the classic method of using a body double.
It’s an entire separate industry in Hollywood. Often, doubles are used just to fill in the place of an actor to set up a shot and save time. Other times, they fill in for the actor for some wide angles or from the back talking to someone else. And yes, sometimes, they are hired when an actress refuses a scene. The reasons can be varied from just personal issues to rough timing and it’s a bit daunting to make it work for the final film. But thanks to some clever editing (and technological tricks), fans can buy completely that these are the real actresses to the point where they have to go on record saying it wasn’t. There are several examples but here are some that stand above the rest. Here are 15 times body doubles brilliantly tricked viewers into thinking they were seeing the real actress and how it’s a facet of Hollywood unlikely to vanish.
15 Angelina Jolie, Wanted
If there was one lady on this list you think wouldn’t be using a body double, it would have to be Angelina Jolie. In almost every other film she’s made, Jolie has shown no qualms baring it all if required. This includes hot scenes in Gia, Original Sin and more, Jolie totally comfortable showing her skin. In this adaption of the cult comic, she’s Fox, the aptly named agent of a secret society of killers recruiting a new member (James McAvoy). In one scene, McAvoy is recovering from a beating in a special “hot tub” that heals wounds. At which point, Fox exits from a tub and marches about with the camera lingering on her. Given how many times Jolie has shown it all over the years, it was only natural to assume it was her. Instead, it was a body double with reports Jolie was feeling ill that day and they wanted something looking better. Jolie has left nothing to the imagination in her time yet amazing she was covered up this time.
14 Julia Roberts, Pretty Woman
Julia Roberts had been a rising star in Hollywood, including an Oscar nomination for Steel Magnolias. But Pretty Woman transformed her from just an actress to the biggest female star in Hollywood. It’s still her best-known part for her great style, fun laugh and more than launched her Oscar-winning career of hits. The poster of her in that pink shirt, black shorts and knee-high boots was a sight that helped make the movie a hit with her as a hooker getting into a relationship with Richard Gere’s character. However, that famous poster? It was actress Shelly Michelle with Roberts’ face superimposed on her body. Michelle also did some of the more risqué body scenes as Roberts herself is among the more famous actors to refuse to drop their clothes in her films. So next time you watch this hit comedy (or even see the cover for it), remember it’s not really Roberts looking so pretty.
13 Natalie Portman, Your Highness
From her debut in The Professional Natalie Portman has shown an astounding talent beyond her years. It's led to huge success in hits like the Star Wars prequels and many more, building up to her acclaimed turn in Jackie. Portman has also lent her talents to quirky movies such as Your Highness. The nutty comedy puts a wild spin on fantasy movies as a pair of bumbling princes go to rescue one's love from an evil wizard. Portman is an adventuress they team with, looking hot as hell. One scene has her stripping to a bikini for a dip but the producers thought Portman didn't look quite right and so a double was used for that.
Also, for her Oscar-winning turn in Black Swan, a double was utilized for the scenes of actual ballet with Portman's head digitally placed on her. That doesn't take away from her amazing performance but does showcase how even she needed help looking great.
12 Lena Headey, Game Of Thrones
Lena Headey is no stranger to doffing it all on camera, such as her great turn in 300. It was surprising she would keep the clothes on for the most part for this HBO epic. Even sultry bits in bed had Cersei clothed and not revealing too much, Headey preferring to go by her acting more. In season five, Cersei’s scheming backfires as she’s imprisoned for her variety of sins. To earn her freedom, she has her head shaven and then walking stark naked through the streets of Westeros. The sight of her marching was amazing with fans hailing the entire sequence. But it wasn’t really Headey doing it as the actress was pregnant during filming and not comfortable with it. Rebecca Van Cleave took on the heavy part with CGI then putting Headey’s head on her. Headey did take it to those trying to “shame” her for not doing it for real and praising Van Cleave’s work. It came together for an epic moment for the show that made you feel sorry for a monster.
11 Isla Fisher, Wedding Crashers
This was a doubling scene so good that for a time, folks thought it was real. Wedding Crashers was a throwback to classic adult-themed comedies with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson as friends who hook up with women at weddings. In her breakout role, Isla Fisher plays Gloria who Vaughn believes is just another conquest. Instead, she turns into a near stalker following him around, including doffing it all for some hot scenes. It was the breakout role for Fisher, putting her on the map and hailed for her fun drive. Several websites would cite her as going nude for the film but it turned out to be a double instead. Fisher herself has refused these types of scenes despite having some risqué roles now and then. It’s funny how this got her a big break and yet didn’t actually show off despite quite a few convinced Fisher cut loose as much for real as she seemed to do on screen.
10 Mila Kunis, Friends With Benefits & Forgetting Sarah Marshall
When Mila Kunis landed her role on That '70s Show, the producers assumed she was the classic case of a twenty-something posing as a teenager. It turned out Kunis really was only 14 and the producers upset when she confessed but the show was a hit so she carried on. Since then, she’s marked several box office hits with her sultry manner. However, Kunis has made it clear that nudity isn’t for her despite close calls. In the comedy hit Forgetting Sarah Marshall, her character is shown on a wall flashing her chest while drunk at a party. It was Kunis’ face but not her body with a double crafted for it. In the rom-com send-up Friends With Benefits, Kunis and Justin Timberlake embark on a “no love” affair with some hot stuff. Again, it was a double used for shots of her rear end. Kunis went on record telling the producers “you get sideboobs or a—but not both!” A shame she’s resistant but it adds to her heat.
9 Drew Barrymore, Poison Ivy
For a time, Drew Barrymore looked to be the classic case of “Child star gone wrong.” She broke out huge as the fun girl in E.T. and several other movies and looked to be doing well. But her teenage years were filled with use of drugs, hard drinking and some rough times. But Barrymore came out stronger, later reestablishing herself as a star and producer of hits like Charlie’s Angels. One move on her road to recovery was this 1992 cult thriller as a young teen who ends up wreaking havoc on her best friend’s family. Barrymore threw herself into the part with some hot stuff and the movie a cult hit. But Barrymore has stated it was not her doing the scenes baring breasts but a double and has joked “I have prettier boobs than hers.” Some have attributed the body doubling to Jaime Pressly, who later broke out in a sequel to the film but she’s denied it. Drew has gone on to go nude in movies (and memorably flashing David Letterman) to show how different her real chest is.
8 Anna Kendrick, Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates
This wild comedy was a surprise hit thanks to its fun cast. Zac Efron and Adam DeVine play the title roles of brothers who cause every family gathering to become a disaster. Told they can only attend their sister’s wedding with some nice dates, they manage to find a pair of friends (Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza) who seem perfect. But once in Hawaii, it turns out the girls are even bigger hell-raisers than the guys are and were just scamming them for a free vacation. At one point, the Kendrick's character convinces the sister to get high with her, leading to the duo dropping their clothes and running around a ranch. This leads to Kendrick standing naked with a horse in front of her as she calmly has a discussion with DeVine. While hot, it turned out that Kendrick used a body double for the rear end shots as she herself resists nudity on camera.
7 Leslie Mann, The Change-Up
A unique comedy, The Change-Up is a play on the classic body switch movies. Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds are best friends who swap bodies in a unique way and decide to have some fun. While Bateman enjoys sleeping around as Reynolds, Reynolds looks forward to finally getting with Bateman’s wife, played by Leslie Mann. She shows up topless breast-feeding and then later, seems ready to cut loose. She enters the bedroom with hair blowing and “Cherry Pie” playing in the background. She talks about “I’m feeling it tonight” which gets Bateman-Reynolds excited…until he finds out it’s really her needing the bathroom. It’s a wild bit but it’s not really Mann’s chest. The producers thought Mann didn’t have the “assets” to make the scene work right so used some CGI and a double to spark it up. Mann waves it off but a bit annoying a woman so gorgeous was seen as not right looks for this scene.
6 Melissa Rauch, The Bronze
Melissa Rauch is well known for her role as Bernadette on The Big Bang Theory. She’s become hugely popular playing a nerdy character but really a knockout off screen, including hot magazine layouts. The Bronze had Rauch stretching, playing Hope Ann, a former Olympic bronze medalist who’s been coasting on her fame ever since. She acts like a huge star, not grasping she’s a has-been while drinking and falling into bed with the wrong guys. It was a wild role, notable for when Hope Ann has a hook-up with a guy in bed. The scenes are huge with the character various gymnastics moves without clothes on. But hopes of fans of seeing Rauch in all her glory were tempered when she said in interviews that it wasn’t her in those scenes. Rather, Michelle Derstine took on those exploits and did an amazing job. Rauch even joked of shopping for the right clothes for her double and while some wish she’d done this herself, it was fun to imagine Rauch getting raunchy.
5 Lindsay Lohan, Machete
In 2007’s Grindhouse, Robert Rodriguez made a mock “trailer” for a wild action movie called Machete. While Grindhouse was a flop, fans loved that trailer and Rodriguez eventually decided to turn it into an actual movie. Long-time buddy Danny Trejo is the former federale forced to battle a corrupt conspiracy with a terrific bevy of co-stars. The “trailer” had already shown a bit of Machete hooking up with a pair of topless women in a swimming pool. In the movie, one of those women was now played by Lindsay Lohan who sadly was in the midst of her career free-fall. She looked good but not quite as hot yet still wild with her character involved in that pool scene. As it happened, Lohan used a double with her head digitally placed for some shots. Lohan would bare it all in later roles and magazines but sad she couldn’t do it when she looked a lot better.
4 Amy Smart, Crank
The fun blonde Amy Smart had roles in movies like Varsity Blues and others. But her big exposure (literally) was in 2000’s Road Trip which included her going nude for a hot scene. So one can easily imagine it was really her in the wild action movie Crank. The frankly insane plot has Jason Statham as a hitman who’s injected with a drug that will kill him unless he keeps his heart racing. So he goes around running and various other bits. Smart is his girlfriend and in a wild scene, they go at it in a Chinatown mall. While Smart was used in a few bits, it was Laura Grady who handled the more graphic moments with a wig to make her look like Smart. Grady actually complimented Statham for making her feel at ease and not embarrassed. For the even wilder sequel, Smart did a striptease with pasties on but it was again Grady handling more risqué stuff.
3 Brooke Shields, The Blue Lagoon
This is rather understandable. Even Hollywood has standards and among them is putting a very strict limit on how old an actor has to be to show something on camera. Brooke Shields had been getting attention for her modelling work, including a commercial of “nothing comes between me and my Levis” that was hugely controversial for its time. In The Blue Lagoon, Shields plays a young teen stranded on an island and soon bonding with her male companion. Shields was only 14 at the time and the idea of her in steamy scenes caused some serious concern. In several shots, her character has long hair covering her chest but more worrisome were the scenes of her bathing, swimming and in bed with her co-star. When testifying before a Congressional committee on a different issue a few years later, Shields was questioned about this and responded that body doubles were used for those scenes. She herself has shied from these kinds of scenes but notable how so many were fooled to the point it took Congress to get the truth out.
2 Isabella Rossellini, Death Becomes Her
This is a bit surprising given how the gorgeous Italian actress has bared her body before. With her lush accent and amazing looks, Isabella Rossellini has starred in numerous fantastic movies and went full-frontal in the hit Blue Velvet. In Death Becomes Her, Rossellini is Lisle, leader of a pack of people who use a magical elixir to remain eternally young. Of course, there’s a catch as eternal youth doesn’t mean immortality as a few people learn the hard way when their bodies suffer horrible fates. Her first scene has her rising out of a pool stark naked and pacing before being draped in an elegant robe. However, it’s not actually Rossellini on display. Instead, it was a then-unknown actress by the name of Catherine Bell. Bell has since become a favorite with TV roles on JAG, Army Wives and The Good Witch but fascinating how her first “exposure” was this movie and one wonders if she took some of that youth elixir herself.
1 Vera Farmiga, Up In The Air
For years, Vera Farmiga had been bouncing around Hollywood in a variety of roles. From short-lived TV shows like Roar to films like The Departed., Farmiga showed great talent. She had bared it all a few times such as Down to the Bone and In Tranzit so it was easy to think it was really her in Up in the Air. Her true star-making role has Farmiga as a passenger who hits it off with George Clooney and they have a steamy hook-up. But at the time, Farmiga had just given birth and still breast-feeding and thus felt no way she was in good enough shape to pull this off. So a double was used with Farmiga just doing the close-ups in bed. The actress got an Oscar nomination for the role and fame that led to her successful role on Bates Motel yet timing was the key reason she didn’t doff it all on camera.