2016 was a difficult year for a lot of us. We saw the deaths of David Bowie, Prince, and Leonard Cohen; the worst possible ending to the most exhausting presidential race in the history of the United States; and the return of The Big Bang Theory for a tenth season.
But 2016 wasn’t all bad. Both Bowie and Cohen gave us outstanding final albums before bidding this world farewell, and the election of Donald Trump at least ensures the democratic party will never again pass on someone as popular as Bernie Sanders in favor of the “establishment” candidate. Plus, 2016 saw the release of more blockbuster movies and independent films than ever before, granting us, among other things, more nude scenes than ever before.
Historically, actors and actresses have been hesitant to partake in nude scenes as such roles are usually followed by controversy and, particularly for female performers, typecasting. But in the open-minded world of 2016, celebrities were lining up to perform nude scenes, hoping that by doing so they could combat slut-shaming and encourage body positivity.
Literally, dozens of celebrities acted in their birthday suit in 2016, but today we’re going to look at 15 of the most notable cases.
15 Yvonne Strahovski (Manhattan Night)
In September of 1996, an author by the name of Colin Harrison published Manhattan Nocturne. The New York Times Notable Book tells the story of Porter Wren, a New York City journalist who is hired to investigate the death of film director Simon Crowley. The departed director’s wife, Caroline, seduces Porter despite being fully aware of his status as a married man. In 2016, the book was adapted for the screen and released under the much more marketable title Manhattan Night, with Yvonne Strahovski playing the character of Mrs. Crowley.
Now I’m one of those guys who always prefers the book to the movie, but I made an exception for Manhattan Night. While it certainly let the novel down in a few areas, it was a delight to see the nude antics of the sensual Caroline Crowley carried out by the equally sensual Yvonne Strahovski.
14 Olivia Wilde (Vinyl)
With Mick Jagger and Martin Scorsese as executive producers, and a cast including the likes of Ray Romano, Juno Temple, and Olivia Wilde, the writer’s of Vinyl really didn’t have to include nude scenes to raise interest in the show. Of course, they included nude scenes anyway, because if you have the opportunity to get Olivia Wilde to strip down to her birthday suit you’d be a fool not to do it.
In the sixth episode of the HBO series, Wilde shed her clothes, granting viewers a complete and extended view of her flawless naked figure. In keeping with the retro theme of the show, the actress wore a merkin - otherwise known as a pubic wig – to create the illusion of what she described as “a 70s bush”.
13 Malin Akerman (Easy)
Netflix has produced dozens of original shows over the past couple of years, but not all of them can be as successful as Orange is the New Black or Making a Murderer. Easy, a series of eight stand-alone stories concerning the romantic and sexual exploits of Chicago residents is one Netflix original which went under the radar. Despite its failure to captivate the public, it won a cult following through its unique format and no holds barred storytelling.
In the sixth episode of the series, we see a married couple, Lucy and Tom, as they attempt to spice up their love life by arranging a threesome with Lucy’s friend, who is played by Malin Akerman. While the threesome itself is more than a little awkward, we are granted a pretty comprehensive view of Malin Akerman’s naked body. Now here’s the kicker, Lucy and Tom are played by Kate Micucci and Orlando Bloom; and yes, they get naked too. If that doesn’t give you a reason to pay your Netflix subscription, I don’t know what will.
12 Sugar Lyn Beard (Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates)
Let’s talk about Sugar Lyn Beard and her nude scene. Now, Beard was technically in her birthday suit during the scene with Kumail Nanjiani, but she is involved in a much more memorable nude scene a little later in the film.
Beard’s character, Jeanie, is rather highly strung. In an attempt to loosen herself up before her wedding, Jeanie acquires some ecstasy from a party guest, though it has the complete opposite of a calming effect. Caught up in a bad trip, Jeanie strips down to her birthday suit to reveal she has rarely if ever, shaved between her legs. It’s the kind of scene the guys from South Park would have done very well, but in Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates it comes off as a hacky example of nudity for the sake of a cheap laugh.
11 Ashley Greene (Rogue)
In 2016, Ashley Greene began appearing in the hit police drama Rogue as the character Mia Levesque. Greene joining the cast of Rogue was a blessing for fans of the series as it allowed them to see an extremely talented actress interpreting the work of some extremely talented writers. It was also a blessing for fans of the female body, as the Mia character was to be shown in the nude in some pretty raunchy scenes.
In the episode "The Dime Tour", Greene shares a particularly steamy scene with a male co-star. Mia and her frustratingly lucky lover are shown rolling around a bed, passionately making out before Greene’s character sheds her clothing to reveal her breasts to her colleague and those watching at home.
10 Emilia Clarke (Game Of Thrones)
Game of Thrones is known for its violence, nudity, and confusing sexual relationships, so is it really any surprise that series mainstay Emilia Clarke has a spot on this list? In 2016, Clarke gave us not only one of the year’s most titillating nude scenes but arguably the most memorable nude scene ever included in an episode of Game of Thrones.
Clarke’s nude scene in the 2016 episode "Book of the Stranger" saw her character, Daenerys Targaryen, set fire to a temple before stripping down to her birthday suit to revel in the chaos. Clarke’s naked frame looked so impressive engulfed in and illuminated by the flames that she was moved to release a statement to dispel rumors that she had used a body double.
9 Riley Keough (The Girlfriend Experience)
If you have ever wondered what Elvis Presley looked like in the nude - who hasn’t? - you should definitely make the time to watch The Girlfriend Experience. Obviously, The King himself doesn’t appear in the series, which saw its first episode air on the 10th of April 2016. However, his granddaughter, Riley Keough, can be seen in the lead role.
In The Girlfriend Experience, Keough plays the role of Christine Reade, a law student earning some extra bucks on the side as an escort. Unsurprisingly, Keough appears in the nude numerous times throughout the first season and performs in multiple sex scenes. While Keough was initially uncomfortable at the prospect of appearing in such frequent and intense nude scenes, she came to enjoy the role and has since described it as “liberating”.
8 Morena Baccarin (Deadpool)
Deadpool was arguably the most anticipated release of 2016, which baffles me because I saw that movie and thought it set filmmaking back 100 years. I was so frustrated by the intentional overacting and constant breaking of the fourth wall that I considered walking out on several occasions, each time being persuaded to stay only by the presence of Morena Baccarin.
While auditioning for Deadpool, Morena Baccarin beat out over 400 other actresses to score the part of the title character’s love interest. In keeping with the juvenile theme of the film, Baccarin appeared in the nude in multiple scenes which composed a montage of her and Ryan Reynolds making love to celebrate various holidays, including Thanksgiving, Halloween, and, as is burnt into my memory, International Women’s Day.
7 Eline Powell (Game Of Thrones)
While she was arguably the most memorable, Emilia Clarke was not the only actress to appear nude in Game of Thrones in 2016. Eline Powell, who portrayed the character of comedic actress Bianca in the sixth season of the show, also revealed her flesh to the world, ensuring she left a lasting impression on Game of Thrones fans despite the fact she appeared in only two episodes.
Powell’s nude scene is brief and takes place in a dressing room after her character has finished a performance of The Bloody Hand, in which she plays the role of Sansa Stark. As she discusses the highs and lows of the performance with her co-stars, Powell removes her costume, exposing her breasts before being sexually harassed by a dwarf, as is the Game of Thrones way.
6 Vail Bloom (Too Late)
Vail Bloom is blessed with one of the greatest names in the history of show business. It is the kind of name that you see once in the opening credits of some obscure film and remember for the rest of your life. But if for some reason you don’t remember Vail Bloom for her name, you will most definitely remember her for her nude scene in the independent drama Too Late.
Too Late is an interesting case in that it is composed of five acts, all of which consist of only one continuous 22 minute shot. In one such shot, Vail Bloom’s character, Janet Lyons, is shown changing from an expensive dress into something more casual, showing, in the process, absolutely every inch of her body. Although Too Late was produced in 2015, it would not hit American screens until 2016. However, seeing Vail Bloom’s bare breasts (among other things) made the film well worth the wait.
5 Jodi Balfour (Quarry)
In 2013, Cinemax ordered a pilot of Quarry, a neo-noir crime drama based on the novels of Max Allan Collins. Three years later, an eight-episode season began to air, with the last episode hitting American screens on the 28th of October, 2016. Although the writers of Quarry have just one season under their belts, they have managed to make the show one of the most memorable of 2016 through interesting cinematography and daring scenes.
In several of those daring scenes, Jodi Balfour, one of the show’s main female characters, can be seen in the nude. The South African-born actress has appeared in her birthday suit in a total of three episodes of Quarry, occasionally accompanied by an equally bare partner. Balfour’s naked body can also be seen in the 2015 release Eadweard.
4 Ellen Page (Tallulah)
Ellen Page’s big break came when she was cast as the perpetually snarky title character of Juno. The film follows Page as she attempts to get her life on track after falling pregnant with the child of a particularly nerdy guy at her school. The film didn’t feature any explicit sex scenes between Page and her baby daddy, despite the fact she was of age at the time, so movie buffs were left to imagine what the new star looked like naked. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case with the 2016 film Tallulah.
Like Juno, Tallulah is a movie named after a character portrayed by Page. Unlike Juno, however, the Netflix original includes a vivid sex scene in which a naked Page rolls around on a bed with her co-star, both moaning and sighing as they cling tightly to each other. The camera focuses on Page’s bare body while the head of her lover moves further and further downwards before it disappears from the shot entirely.
3 Kumail Nanjiani (Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates)
Although the 2016 film Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates was hotly anticipated by comedy fans, it was pretty much panned by critics and moviegoers alike. It includes some relatively strong opening scenes - one even featuring Marc Maron – but as the movie progresses, it relies more and more on cheap laughs until the whole thing is a Jack and Jill level cinematic atrocity.
In an attempt to cash in on the trend of using male nudity for laughs, the film includes a scene in which Kumail Nanjiani plays a masseuse with some unique methods of satisfying his clients. During an appointment with Sugar Lyn Beard's sexually repressed character, Nanjiani removes his clothing and embarks on what can only be described as a barrage of farcical massage techniques to bring the scene to a climax (pun intended).
2 Greta Gerwig (Maggie's Plan)
Like the movie Too Late, Maggie’s Plan was filmed in 2015 but would not see a release in the United States until the following year. Maggie’s Plan is also comparable to Too Late because it features, you guessed it, a nude scene.
This particular nude scene sees Greta Gerwig, who plays the titular character, lying on a bed while her lover crawls on top of her, kissing her softly as he does so. This is not quite as passionate or as intense as the sex scenes to be found in some other 2016 films, but it does grant the viewer a good – though annoyingly short – view of Gerwig’s breasts before they are blocked by the body of her co-star, who presumably wants to save them all for himself.
1 Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)
Over the past couple of years, there has been a rise in male actors appearing in the nude. The male body is a little bit more versatile than the female body in terms of the reactions it can create and it has been played for everything from laughs to gasps. Viggo Mortensen’s naked body certainly falls more into the former category in the 2016 film Captain Fantastic, in which he plays a paranoid father living off-the-grid with his children.
In interviews arranged to promote the release of the film, Mortensen discussed the filming of his nude scene, which took place in a public campground. Recalling the shock of holidaymakers who had no idea Mortensen member would be interrupting their vacation, the actor explained that he had no choice but to go naked in public as the producers didn’t have the budget to rent out the entire park.
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