Interesting story about movie nudity. Seems that actors like Shannon Elizabeth will only agree to it if it is vital to conveying the essence of the character. So I guess she was playing a character when she posed for Playboy.
The Comedy Wire
Film Nudity Challenges Young Actors
By ANTHONY BREZNICAN
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Baring her body in ``American Pie'' exposed Shannon Elizabeth to the expectation that she'd strip for the camera again.
``But I knew if I wanted to be in the business until I'm 80, which I do, I'd have to turn those things down for now,'' the 24-year-old actress said.
Elizabeth reprised her role as Nadia, the sexy Czech exchange student, in the new ``American Pie 2,'' but insisted on one major change - no nude scene.
Luckily, she said, the writer and director didn't try to change her mind.
Many of her ``American Pie'' cast mates also have done nude scenes in their young careers, such as Mena Suvari in ``American Beauty,'' Tara Reid in ``Body Shots,'' even Jason Biggs.
After taking their clothes off in one movie, the performers agreed it can be difficult to make other filmmakers accept a refusal to bare all again.
Although most actors insist they'll only perform nude for art's sake, scenes that tap into moviegoers' voyeuristic urges can boost a film's earnings or create an instant fan base.
Halle Berry's brief topless scene in this summer's ``Swordfish'' has been credited with boosting the film's nearly $70 million gross by attracting droves of curious male fans.
Berry denied reports that producers paid her an extra $500,000 for it, saying she agreed to the scene because it was liberating.
``To me, playing a character who was that in control of her sexuality, who was that comfortable with herself, was the challenge - to pull that off and not sit there looking scared to death, like I felt inside that I was,'' she said.
People have taken their clothes off in front of the camera as long as there have been cameras, but nudity vanished from mainstream American film because of the Hays Code restrictions, which went into effect in 1930 and prohibited explicit portrayals of sex, violence and profanity.
European films continued to feature nudity, though, and actresses such as Brigitte Bardot became icons of sexual freedom. Meanwhile, some U.S. stars such as Elizabeth Taylor in 1963's ``Cleopatra'' pushed the boundaries by appearing in brief semi-nude scenes.
Then American critics began attacking the Hays Code over restrictions placed on the acclaimed 1966 British drama ``Blow-Up,'' which featured full frontal female nudity. (A new ratings system was instituted in 1968 by the Motion Picture Association of America, which served as a guideline for
parents without restricting a film's content.)
Many young performers say they approach nudity on a case-by-case basis.
The chance to play Kevin Spacey's rose petal-covered fantasy in ``American Beauty'' changed Suvari's mind about taking off her clothes. Her character, a cheerleader who acts like a sexpert, reveals her inexperience by becoming frightened when Spacey unbuttons her blouse.
``I always said, 'I'm never going to do nudity. I'm never going to be that kind of actor,''' Suvari recalled. ``But that movie's so symbolic, and the scene that I had is more about the unveiling, the revealing of the character.''
Now Suvari, 22, is back to her no-nudity policy because she doesn't want to be typecast as an actress who takes off her clothes.
Filmmakers say the more nudity required for a role, the more difficult it becomes to cast it with a well-known performer.
Director Wayne Wang said many actors turned down the lead roles in his sex drama ``The Center of the World'' because of the nudity requirements.
Wang used body-doubles for some of the more explicit scenes and tried to push the limits of what the actors would do. In one discussion, Wang asked them if they would engage in real sex during a scene. ``They weren't too comfortable with that,'' he said.
The movie's leading man, Peter Sarsgaard asked him: ``Do I really have to slash my wrists if I commit suicide as a character?''
The negotiations for a nude scene can be an intense, detailed process, said Los Angeles-based entertainment lawyer Harris E. Tulchin.
``There are very specific negotiations about whether breasts, nipples or pubic hair can be shown at all, whether the camera can go above the navel, below the navel or above the knees,'' he said. ``This is all language written into the contract.''
Only rarely will a producer offer extra pay specifically for nudity, although the actors' representatives frequently seek for more compensation.
Performers typically are more interested in getting their Screen Actors Guild rights pertaining to nudity, such as limited access to the set, destroying outtakes or reviewing footage before the final edit.
``Sometimes an actor will agree to a nude scene and then try to back out of it. They're in their dressing room saying, 'I just can't do this,''' Tulchin said.
In those cases, he added: ``It's more important to have a director who makes the actor comfortable.''
Such situations are common enough that they were parodied in David Mamet's Hollywood satire ``State and Main,'' which featured a subplot about an actress who balks at a nude scene stipulated in her contract. The crew is baffled because she's notorious for numerous nude scenes in other films.
The director's effort to persuade her is undercut when she overhears a crewman joke that most moviegoers can already draw her breasts ``from memory.''
Reid, who plays the romantic sexual novice Vicky in the ``American Pie'' movies, said no filmmaker has tried to talk her into a scene that makes her uneasy.
``I absolutely feel comfortable resisting,'' Reid said. ``You just tell them at the beginning, 'There's going to be no nudity in this role.' And if they want you bad enough, they'll say, 'OK.'''
The 25-year-old agreed to perform two nude scenes with actor Jerry O'Connell in the 1999 drama ``Body Shots,'' about a one-night stand that may have been rape.
In his flashback, the scene is an erotic consensual romp. In her version of the event, O'Connell's character brutally attacked her.
The decision to bare her breasts, she said, ``was particular to the role. If the role really calls for it and it helps the character and helps you understand it more, (the nudity) makes sense. But if it's just to show T&A for no reason, I wouldn't do it.''
The only major cast member to flash skin in ``American Pie 2'' turned out to be a man - Biggs, who credits nude scenes with enhancing his comedy career.
In the first ``American Pie,'' he dropped his pants to sample the feel of an apple pastry. In the sequel, his hapless character becomes trapped on a rooftop with his hands glued to his naked body.
``I pride myself in being an actor who will do just about anything for a laugh,'' he said. ``If it's funny I'll do it. ... Whatever, it's just my butt.''
It's not uncommon for actors to flash their backsides (even Charlton Heston did it in the original ``Planet of the Apes'') but some actors such as Harvey Keitel in ``The Piano,'' Kevin Bacon in ``Wild Things'' and Geoffrey Rush in ``Quills'' have done full frontal nude scenes.
While Biggs hasn't gone that far, the 23-year-old actor feels: the bigger the risk, the bigger the laugh.
``I'd be lying if I said that on the day of filming the pie (scene) I wasn't nervous and scared and questioned a little bit what I was about to do,'' he said. ``Once I went for it and left my inhibitions aside and saw the eventual success - not only of the scene but the film as a whole - it
made me much more comfortable and eager this time around to take it to a whole new level.''
It hasn't been as easy for Elizabeth, who appeared with Biggs in her original ``American Pie'' nude scene. She often has called her agent to defend her no-nudity contracts.
Still, she says: ``I'll never say, 'I'll never do nudity.' I have no problem with it if it's not gratuitous.''