Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Celebrity nudity

Ok, mind you, I think about stuff this more than is healthy, so this may not be fair, but two things got me back on the track of young starlets and their hyperbolic swearing off of appearing naked in movies. One is the picture of this Kirsten Dunst beach incident that my friend Erech passed along the other day and the other was the movie When Will I Be Loved.

I'm going to head off the pass here. I know that asking young starlets about future nudity is offensive. There's no reason to do it, and that their male counterparts do not face that kind of question... or when they occasionally do, have an easier time dismissing it with a quick joke.

However, and this is regardless of whatever feelings lie in the deepest recesses of your heart, if you're going to try to give an earnest answer to the possibility of appearing naked in a future film role, stick with the tried and true, "I'd have to consider it on a case by case basis with the director and my loved ones and decide if it was important to the story."

That's all. If you're 100% positive that you'll never be naked in a movie, well, twenty years from now when that quote is looked upon by historians, they'll simply assume you never found that role, and if they have any response at all, it will be to shrug.

However, how many people have sworn off screen nudity and then not either appeared prominently naked eventually or disappeared from the spotlight prematurely? I've got Julia Roberts and... anyone?

One way or the other, I suspect you're safer with the non-committal answer. It won't come up and bite you someday. It won't keep you from being considered for anything. It doesn't dash the hopes of the unhealthily obsessed fanboys who spend $10 twice a year on the off-chance that maybe...

Safer still, just get it over with. Katie Holmes did it. A relatively safe, somewhat arty movie - The Gift, directed by Sam Raimi from a script by Billy Bob Thornton, and a pretty solid movie, in my opinion - and it's over. People ask her if she'll do nudity and again, and, well, she shrugs. It's a pointless question now.

So, witness Kirsten Dunst. Rumor had it, she shot nudity for Crazy/Beautiful, which, watching the movie would only make sense, and after that chose to play the "I'll never do nudity." quotes. Why? What was the point? I just can't help wondering if this will ultimately result in a turnaround... mind you, after she's gained ten pounds... Yes, there are people who were built to be skinny little cute waifs, but not of them have faces that round or boobs that big... Cover over that hipbone, woman!

And Neve Campbell is all nakedy in this When Will I Be Loved. All right. But, c'mon, she was not only not naked, but conspicuous in her weird t-shirt or whatever in that sex-scene in Wild Things. I still think Wes Craven made a poor creative choice in using her in no-nudity mode for Scream. Everything about that movie led up to the lead character having sex - as she does - and showing off her boobs - which she does not. Check the rules Jamie Kennedy reads off again and how the movie carefully plays against all of them, except that one.

Look, I know. Some of you are doing the important roles not requiring nudity and needing to be respectable. Log on to the CNdb. Find me the "respectable" actress who started after 1968 who doesn't have a notable listing there.

Ok, here's where the rest, so duly cowed by my wonderful argument about the great actresses showing off their goods, but what about the actors? Well, I suspect you'd be surprised if you checked for listings for actors how many you'd find, but unfortunately, not enough to make my case for me.

Look, I don't recall the last screenplay I wrote that didn't include male as well as female nudity, so I'm not sexist per se. I just don't think the problem is that too many young actresses are pressured to show all. I think the problem is that not nearly enough young actors are.

But, for the sake of it, I'll chastise Jake Gyllenhaal. Originally scheduled to be in Betolucci's The Dreamers, he backed out, apparently because he was being asked to show too much nudity. Now, a different project will feature little Jake, but not so prominently.

Ultimately, acting is about revealing, and while that revealing is mostly what deep inside in your heart and soul and applying it to the performance. It's also about the fearlessness to reveal that layer. Setting an arbitrary limitation to what you'll do as part of that process seems less than fearless. I think that's why you'll find most of the greats eventually just did it, because they're great... and great artists aren't afraid.

I suppose I'm asking 18 year old kids to be fearless about their bodies and their hearts, which is patently unfair, as well as being comfortable talking about it to complete strangers. But ultimately, that's what having people is for.

The only answer is. Don't commit. Someday, you may want to do more. You may grow up and be more fearless. When they ask, which they shouldn't do, don't tell them anything useful.

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