I often wonder if actors really go nude for certain scenes in films.

I am not talking about those movies where we can see the sexual body-parts or genitals of the actors/actresses, but instead less explicit scenes. Do they also perform nude then to make the scene more realistic?

For example, I can remember at the start of the epic film Troy, Paris had sex with his lover, Helen. During the sex scene, we could not see any sexual body-parts, but the scene was shot such a way that we can understand they were nude and were having sex. In these types of scenes it seems like this type of shot is impossible because of the way their bare body parts are shown, unless they really go nude.

So what is done in these situations? Do they perform nude or not?

  • Well... Have you seen The Brown Bunny?
    – SQB
    May 30, 2016 at 19:36
  • @SQB, No I haven't. How is it related?
    – Mistu4u
    Jun 1, 2016 at 15:46
  • 1
    Read the Wikipedia article I linked to to understand that some actors go a lot farther than others. Although I must admit it was a bit of a whimsical comment.
    – SQB
    Jun 1, 2016 at 15:54

3 Answers 3


That's really up to the actor (if they have enough clout).

Very often it is written into contracts whether an actor will go fully or partially nude, regardless of whether their on screen character does so.

During filming it is not unknown for filmmakers to use body doubles for close up shots, and many times during mid to long shots an actor might request to wear skin tone pieces which cover their genitals or nipples.

*As an example - here is Megan Fox (who will not do fully nude roles) wearing flesh-colored nipple covers and 'briefs' for a supposedly nude swimming shot in the film Jennifer's Body.*

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  • 2
    And how much they reveal can up the pay, too.
    – Rob
    Dec 21, 2012 at 12:23
  • Modern technology offers another way round the problem of actors not wanting to appear nude: CGI. Scenes can be shot partially clothed and then digitally altered to make the actor look naked. Jessica Alba did it this way for the well-known nude shower scene in Machete.
    – matt_black
    Dec 22, 2013 at 16:02
  • An earlier example of this sort of "simulated nakedness" can be found in Forbidden Planet (1956), where Morbius's daughter is swimming "naked" with a one-piece swimming suit (it looks pretty crappy even in the black-and-white version, I always suspected that 1950s prudishness prevented the mostly male staff from asking too many questions and fiddling with it too much). Jan 25, 2016 at 3:42

From the article The Naked Truth about on-screen nudity

The subject of nudity clauses has come up with increasing regularity these days, particularly as more flesh is being revealed on network television. Though naked actors may be more prevalent than ever, the choice not to show all is also more accepted.

Megan Fox, Jessica Alba, Scarlett Johansson – who have gone on record as refusing to do full nudity.


Given the strict union guidelines around on-set nudity, there’s seldom a reason for performers to be surprised. Actors must be told of any nude scenes well in advance and nudity waivers require directors to itemize exactly what will be shown and how.


As Anne Hathaway told National Public Radio, the typical process goes like this:

  • “The director submits a shot list, and you look over them for approval. And a lot of times, if an actor feels the shot demands a lot of them, they'll demand money for it.”

... for the 2010 film, Love and Other Drugs, she and Jake Gyllenhaal agreed to waive the nudity clause, allowing director Edward Zwick to shoot what he wanted. But she and Gyllenhaal had final cut over those scenes, which she exercised, asking for about five seconds of the film to be cut...

From the article Fakin' It - Actors discuss the ins and outs of making a successful sex scene:

While women wear body stockings, G-strings, and pasties on-set, men get what is known as a 'sock':

  • "It's a flesh-colored pouch that wraps your genitals up like a bag of leprechaun's gold."

There is also the option of body doubles:


There are a variety of techniques that directors can employ, depending on their and the actor's preferences (depending on how much the actor is worth, low grade actors would not get a choice):

  • The easiest is for the actor to be nude and for editing to ensure that the finished film is decent and their modesty is protected. However many very famous actors refuse this as they know that the prints of them naked will almost definitely find their way out of the studio and onto the internet.

  • The actor can wear clothes and these can be kept out of shot with good editing.

  • The actor can wear special body suits (these appearing often in the background of things like 'Rome') which makes it look like they are naked when they are actually not.

  • The actor's face is used for some close up shots and a body double is used for the rest of the scene ('Love Actually' shows some body doubles at work).

  • Now, I suppose CGI could be employed too.

  • Also, I think that there is a technique used where the actor is clothed but the script refers to them as being naked. This seemed to be what they did in Friends once when Chandler was handcuffed in Rachel's boss's office. Chandler was wearing his shirt, boxer shorts and socks but Rachel and the other seemed to be discussing the situation as if he was naked (ISTR Rachel was discussing the size of his manhood and made a deal where she agreed to exaggerate it).

  • Here wearing a cloth and then acting like a naked person is really sarcastic to an extent. However, I guess in this way they just try to cover themselves! anyways +1 for sharing with us the techniques!
    – Mistu4u
    Dec 21, 2012 at 16:57
  • 1
    @Stefan The Friends thing doesn't apply. The situation was that Rachel did see Chandler wearing a shirt, boxer shorts and socks, but because of the compromising position that he was in and the lack of other witnesses, she was free to make up whatever story she wanted about what she saw, when she told others. "I'm going to tell others what I saw, and I can be very very generous, or very stingy!" This allowed her to make the deal to exaggerate what she claimed to have seen, in return for Chandler breaking up with her boss.
    – Jay
    Nov 18, 2013 at 17:26
  • Yeah kind of, they seemed to be discussing it as if he had been naked to me. I had seen a similar thing at about the same time but I cannot remember it now. I might well be mistaken, hence I added te caveats!
    – Stefan
    Nov 18, 2013 at 19:14
  • Is there nudity in Love Actually? (It's been awhile!) Characters include two stand-ins for a porno shoot, meaning that they are used to set up camera angles and so on; in one scene they go through the motions of sex but fully clothed. Dec 24, 2022 at 19:21
  • @AntonSherwood, they also do at least partially nude scenes. huffingtonpost.co.uk/amp/entry/…
    – Stefan
    Dec 25, 2022 at 22:07

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