Hollywood is a unique beast. It clearly has a preoccupation with hiring aesthetically pleasing individuals over someone that is more qualified for the role in a lot of cases. That is why some of our most talented actresses, including Patricia Arquette, Meryl Streep, Jane Fonda, Cate Blanchett and others, have spoken against sexism in the industry. The best example of how this has affected the careers of far too many female actors in the past is how regularly we see them get fewer and fewer roles after they’ve exceeded a certain age. However, aging isn’t the only downfall in Hollywood.
While it is abundantly obvious that producers put a premium on getting beautiful and famous actors to defrock onscreen, it isn’t always the best decision for a starlet’s career. In fact, sometimes after a famous lady reveals more skin than they have in their careers previously, their roles seems to take a nosedive, which is anything but fair. Can you imagine how it might feel to have an entire industry aggressively seek to put you in a position to reveal your naughty bits to the world, give in, and see the parts you once were offered dry up? While the exact reasons why this seems to happen regularly may not be entirely clear, we thought it would be fascinating to look at actresses who revealed their birthday suits and faltered afterward.
In order for an actress to be considered for inclusion here, the first requirement is that they were once seen as successful or at least on an upward trajectory. Then they need to have made the choice to appear in the nude, and then see their career decline. While we put a premium on the nudity in question being the first time they dropped their gear, it isn’t one-hundred percent necessary. Finally, their career doesn’t need to have instantly nosedived in the aftermath, but it does need to have taken place pretty quickly afterward.
15 Shannyn Sossamon
One of the lesser known celebrities on this list, Shannyn, and her unique name were just on the rise when she took off her top and her career hit the skids. An actress who seemed designed to be the personification of the manic pixie dream girl, she was a very pretty young woman who was clearly very pleasant to look at. When you then threw in her shorter hairstyles and the manner in which she delivered her lines, waffling dramatically between confident and soft-spoken, she was someone you could easily see yourself fall for. Given the female lead in her first film role, playing against Heath Ledger in A Knight’s Tale, she would go on to undress in 40 Days and 40 Nights. Still cast in a lead part in The Rules of Attraction afterward, her career went downhill aside from a few roles in well-received movies like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Wristcutters: A Love Story.
14 Piper Perabo
Another actor who seemed destined for stardom early on, including being given the lead role in Coyote Ugly, a film starring a bevy of beauties, Piper (left) also starred in The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle. An attractive woman who was pretty adept at delivering her lines, she had everything going for her when she was also given one of the lead roles in a lesser known movie called Lost and Delirious. Going one step further in the film, she shared a lesbian sex scene with her co-star, Jessica Paré who is best known as one of Don Draper’s wives on Mad Men. While that doesn’t seem like a bad career move, her only high-profile performance since was as one of Steve Martin’s twelve kids in Cheaper by the Dozen.
13 Kirsten Dunst
Kirsten Dunst has had a very interesting career. Starting out as a child actor, her role in Interview with the Vampire showed the world that she was incredible and could easily be believable as an aged and evil being in the body of a child. Going on to be in memorable parts of films like Jumanji and Wag the Dog, when she grew to be a young woman she turned heads in The Virgin Suicides and then got the job that has defined her career. Cast as Mary Jane Watson in the Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, the movies were behemoths at the box office and made her a household name. After it came to an end she was cast in 2010’s All Good Things and 2011’s Melancholia in which she appeared topless. While the latter film was hugely critically acclaimed, it seemed to do nothing for her career judging by the failure of everything she was in until 2015. Still, we would couldn’t put her too high on this list despite the fact that her career suffered after her nudity because her work in the second season of Fargo was beloved by many and could have turned things around.
12 Jasmine Guy
A show that will come up again on this list, A Different World aired for six seasons and by the end of it largely revolved around the relationship of Whitley and Dwayne Wayne. The actress who played the aforementioned Whitley, Jasmine Guy, played the part of a high maintenance but well-meaning woman on the rise, to absolute perfection. Made into a pretty big star at the time, she was one of the show’s biggest celebrities when it came to an end in 1993. Then, she was in a film called Kla$h in 1995 and showed her breasts for the only nude scene of her career. Since that year, her filmography is filled to the brim with unrecognizable projects or forgettable roles.
11 Selma Blair
A skilled actor who showed her huge range in the movie Cruel Intentions, Selma started out the film as an innocent and before departing it was remade into a sexual dynamo and was convincing throughout. The role that turned casting agent’s heads, she seemed to have everything going for her and got a lead role in a film called Kill Me Later and played a major supporting role in Down to You next. Then she was cast in the lead role in a segment of an anthology film called Storytelling, in which she appeared in an explicit sex scene that offended many due to the frequent use of the N-word. Perhaps, not the best move for an up and coming actor, she had a couple chances at stardom in the following year or two, as in Legally Blonde and The Sweetest Thing, but has been relegated to being a character actor since.
10 Mena Suvari
Never has an actor been more synonymous with a single word, in this case, American. An actress who was one of the many youngsters whose careers took off after Mena played a part in American Pie, she went on to appear in a hugely acclaimed film, American Beauty. Taking off her top in that movie, it seemed like she was poised for bigger and better things. Going on to appear in the unsuccessful films Loser, Sugar & Spice and American Virgin, she has only had success as part of American Pie 2 and American Reunion. See what we mean about that word?
9 Cameron Diaz
An actress who was hugely popular at one time, Cameron seems to be in the twilight of her career unless she can muster up a big film to buoy her prospects. Introduced as a sex bomb in her first film The Mask, she would go on to become a huge deal. Appearing in major movies like My Best Friend’s Wedding, There’s Something About Mary, Being John Malkovich, Any Given Sunday, the Charlie’s Angels series, the Shrek movies, and The Holiday, she has an admirable career. Having briefly suffered slips in a couple of films, Vanilla Sky and Gangs of New York, she has only appeared outright nude in one film so far Sex Tape, in which she showed her rear end. Appearing in only one film since, the much reviled Annie, the year that followed Sex Tape’s release, 2015, was the first one in which she didn’t have a film released since 1993.
8 Meg Ryan
An actress who undoubtedly had a strong argument for being America’s sweetheart for many years of her career, it seemed like every film Meg touched turned to gold for years on end. Between Top Gun, Innerspace, When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, Courage Under Fire, You’ve Got Mail, as well as Kate & Leopold, she made being beloved by the audience seem easy. While she made a pair of nude appearances in 1993’s films The Doors and Flesh and Bone, the former movie was a well-received drama and virtually nobody saw the latter, so it did little to nothing to her career. However, when she was caught up in a cheating scandal on the set of Proof of Life and then starred in a grime and nudity soaked film called In the Cut, people seemed to have seen her in a new light. Only appearing in eight films since 2003, none of the movies she graced did very well.
7 Christina Ricci
A former child star, Christina will always be synonymous with her pitch-perfect performance as Wednesday Addams in two Addams Family films. Also appearing in major movies like Mermaids, Now and Then, Gold Diggers: The secret of Bear Mountain, and Casper as a youngster, she would beat the odds and continue to be cast as an adult. Between movies like The Ice Storm, Buffalo ’66, The Opposite of Sex, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Sleepy Hollow and much more, she proved she had what it took to remain relevant. Then she took off all of her clothes in Prozac Nation and she hasn’t hit it big since. In fact, her only recognizable films in the intervening years are Monster, which is best known for her co-star, Black Snake Moan, which is remembered for her being nude a lot, and Speed Racer.
6 Kristen Stewart
Whether you like Kristen Stewart’s work as an actor or can’t stand her, there is little debate that she was a huge star at one time. Most famous for her starring role in the Twilight series of films, they were met by a very divisive response but despite that, the series took in more than 1.3 billion dollars at the box office. Also successful prior to those movies, she’d previously been memorable in movies like Panic Room, Zathura and Into the Wild, among others. First seen with her naughty bits on display in 2012’s On the Road, the final Twilight movie came out later that year and she hasn’t had a huge movie since. Actually, aside from her movies Still Alice, which was critically acclaimed, and American Ultra, which was heavily advertised, many people probably wouldn’t be able to identify her other films if we listed them.
5 Rene Russo
Rene was an actress whose incredible body and charisma made her someone that it would be easy to envision her becoming a massive star. Known for roles in movies like Major League, Mr. Destiny, the Lethal Weapon franchise, Outbreak, Get Shorty, Tin Cup, and Ransom, there were very few actresses who had a higher profile than she did. Then she starred in the underrated remake of The Thomas Crown Affair, in which she undressed more than once and she all but disappeared shortly after. Appearing in only nine films over the next fifteen films, she would go several years without a film, including between 2005 and 2011. Finally made relevant again with her supporting role in the Thor movies and her amazing work in Nightcrawler, we’re hoping her comeback continues.
4 Thora Birch
This is a bit of a weird one. Thora was a former child star who became a recognizable face to millions around the world for her parts in movies like Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, Hocus Pocus, Monkey Trouble and Now and Then. Then she was cast in American Beauty, which turned out to be one of her trademark roles. Seen nude in a memorable moment in the film, despite only being seventeen at the time, she seemed like a star to be. Although she was later cast in Ghost World, the other role she is probably best known for, her career went nowhere after these movies came out. Apparently, it seems as though her father was the problem, as he had to be on set due to her age and supposedly really creeped everyone out.
3 Halle Berry
Crowned the “Sexiest Woman Alive” by Esquire Magazine in 2008, it is pretty well impossible for us to disagree while looking at a photo of her, Halle is that hot. Seen in beloved movies before that year, like Boomerang, Bulworth, and the X-Men franchise, by the times she was given the title her career was no longer on the rise. In fact, she didn’t even appear in a single film in 2008 or 2009. Prior to her career prospects looking so poor, she’d appeared in the buff in both of her 2001 films, Swordfish and Monster’s Ball. Winning an Oscar for her performance in the latter film, she should have had the world at her fingertips but she took a role that was extremely damaging. Starring in Catwoman in 2002, the movie is considered among the worst ever, and did damage to her profile she still hasn’t repaired. Roles in movies like Movie 43 aren’t going to do the trick for her either.
2 Elizabeth Berkley
An actor that will always be best remembered for her time on the immensely popular teen show, Saved by the Bell, when Elizabeth's time on that show came to an end she made the jump to the big screen. Unfortunately, she chose to play the main character in the film Showgirls and her career has never recovered. A movie in which she showed seemingly every inch off her body, again and again, it was a courageous choice that totally backfired. Winning five Razzies that year, including worst picture and worst actress which was “awarded” to Elizabeth, it is a much-reviled film. She has never been given a role that would earn her a place on a major movie poster since.
1 Lisa Bonet
World famous in the eighties as one of the kids on The Cosby Show, Lisa Bonet was a major part of a series that was the top-rated show in all of television for five years running. Popular enough to then be spun off into her own series, A Different World, which itself went for six seasons despite its main star in the first season being fired, her dismissal was shocking. Taken off the series after she appeared in explicit sex scenes in the movie Angel Heart as well as posing topless in a magazine, it is generally agreed upon that she was let go because Bill was mad that her nudity may hurt the brand. Seems pretty ridiculous, especially in light of the Cosby controversies, but it seems to be very obvious that her career was badly hurt after she got naked since she was eventually fired from The Cosby Show too. It is too bad she hasn’t landed a role with a higher profile since, aside from supporting parts in Enemy of the State and High Fidelity.