Plucky British Actresses More Willing To Go Nude Than Their American Counterparts

Illustration for article titled Plucky British Actresses More Willing To Go Nude Than Their American Counterparts

Earlier this year, Reese Witherspoon got her panties in a twist about the mere notion that she might go nude for a role. "If [actresses] take their clothes off, they objectify themselves," Witherspoon told UK Glamour. "I am flabbergasted by how many legitimate actresses do it." But if they're doing it to retain the integrity and reality of a role, is that really objectification? Well Reese's prudishness is part of why Showtime producers chose to import the British show Secret Diary of a Call Girl as opposed to remaking it. "This country, being more puritanical, it's always hard to find actors who get really comfortable with the nudity," Robert Greenblatt, Showtime's president of entertainment told Jezebuddy Choire Sicha, writing for the L.A. Times. Greenblatt continues, "It's just a different climate over there. You can find actors who have a reputation and have actually done some serious acting. Who don't need to be covered up every time they do a bedroom scene, which is true of most actresses — most women — unless you're doing something a little more downscale." The 25-year-old Brit star of Call Girl, Billie Piper, clearly has no problem with nudity.

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Of Piper, Greenblatt says, "The great thing about Billie is she's open to that. And yet it's also tasteful. We're not that explicit with her." While one could easily make the argument that because Call Girl is about a hooker, the show is inherently objectifying, it would be fairly absurd to have a show revolve around sex and yet not show any naked bodies (though somehow, Carrie Bradshaw managed to wear a bra in the sack for six years; big up to Cynthia Nixon and Kim Cattrall for actually showing their naked bodies without shame as the plot entailed).

I don't think actresses should have to choose between going nude and advancing their careers, but there is something ultimately refreshing about a powerful, talented actress (see Mirren, Helen; Jason Leigh, Jennifer) who doesn't mind going bare for a role because it's the right choice for the character. And judgey Witherspoon can stick that in her Oscar and smoke it.

Billie Piper's 'Secret' Is Out [LA Times]

Reese Witherspoon Won't Go Nude To Sell Movies [Us]

DISCUSSION

ASmallTurnip
A Small Turnip

@ilikenoise: Like everything you write, this is spot-on. I think that there is more body-shame in LA than there is in London. That's not to say that you don't get a good deal of it in London, but just that it's not ever-present. I love that you get to see a lot of different body types on the telly or in films in the U.K. I'm all for it. I think it's pretty healthy to see the lean and the plump, the taut and the wrinkly. Male and female, black, white and brown. The lot. You know?

I like Reese Witherspoon a lot, but I wish she worked in an acting culture that didn't divide women into Those Who Will Go Naked and Those Who Will Not. It makes for a kind of unofficial class-structure in Hollywood that is really, really psychologically unhelpful for both the actors and the audience.

But I'd also say that if you're going to choose to be an actor, one of the things you must grapple with is the the fact that your body is your work, your living. It is also (if you'll forgive me for getting all luvvie-ish here) the instrument of your art, and it seems a shame to refuse any part which might require your body to be naked. A naked body is a powerful thing, and not just in a sexual way. nakedness may be sexual, but it's a lot of other things as well, and all of them interesting.