Nudity in movies is nothing new. It's been around since the days of silent film, though it started to evolve around the release of the VCR in the 1980s. Suddenly, scenes were able to be paused and reversed, allowing for more time to admire the human body. After the VCR, the DVD came into play, offering an even better look, while the internet turned it into a free-for-all. Even though nudity is everywhere these days, there are some scenes that just stick out from the rest. We've compiled a list of some of the best nude scenes that may have worn out the rewind button or burned an image into a computer screen.
Pam Grier in Coffy
Pam Grier started her career in the 1970s in blaxploitation movies and caught a lot of attention for a number of roles, including in Russ Meyers' 1970 movie Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. She was never afraid to do nudity, and 1973's Coffy is proof of that fact. While some were dismissive of Grier's early career, she knew she had a chance to educate. She says, "being nude in those movies I was trying to help men understand. Society created this mystery about the vagina, the breasts." She adds, "When you create a mystery, people want to see it and attack it if they can't have it. So I was like, here's the mystery. I hope I bore you and you'll never get a h*rd-on again." She succeeded on the first part of that goal, but probably not the second.
Margot Robbie in The Wolf of Wall Street
Margot Robbie scored her big break in Martin Scorsese's 2013 movie The Wolf of Wall Street. While there are plenty of scenes that stand out in this movie, Robbie steals the show with her nude scene, which was her idea. She says, "The whole point of Naomi is that her body is her only form of currency in this world." Robbie went on to add, "So when [Martin Scorsese] was trying to help me out, and said in the scene where she seduces Jordan perhaps I could have a robe on, I said she wouldn't. She has to be naked. She's laying her cards on the table." Robbie helped elevate the scenes with Leonardo DiCaprio. Honorable mention goes to Jonah Hill's scene where he whips out a prosthetic penis.
Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights
Heather Graham is naked in a lot of Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights, but the most memorable part of the movie comes when Mark Wahlberg's Dirk Diggler reveals the goods. Throughout the whole story, they focus on his talents, but it isn't until the very end of the movie that we see what all the fuss is about. Wahlberg used a prosthesis in the movie, so that's not really him, but it's still one of the most memorable scenes in cinema from the past 25 years. Fun fact: the crew actually made the prosthesis to be 12 inches, but had to downsize it because it was just too big.
Elizabeth Berkley in Showgirls
Director Paul Verhoeven's Showgirls is nearly all nudity, but that was all overshadowed by Elizabeth Berkley. The former Saved By the Bellactress bared it all in the divisive 1995 movie, which was seen as a giant risk at the time. She commented on the experience 20 years later and said, "I had the most extraordinary experience making the film." While the movie was torched by critics, Berkley notes, "I found my own resiliency and my power and my confidence," when dealing with the backlash that came afterward. The movie is now a cult classic and Berkley's multiple nude scenes are unforgettable.
Halle Berry in Swordfish
Halle Berry went nude for 2001's Swordfish, which certainly helped the movie at the box office. At the time, there were rumors that she was paid an extra $500,000 to bare all, but Berry denied the rumors, noting her assets were worth far more than that. "I did the scene because it showed you that the character was in control of her sexuality and very comfortable with herself," Berry says. "The challenge for me was to pull it off and not just sit there naked and looking scared to death like I initially felt." She looks pretty confident on in the scene, though the same can't be said for co-stars John Travolta and Hugh Jackman.
Elizabeth Olsen in Oldboy
Elizabeth Olsen's nude scene in Spike Lee's Oldboy took place in 2013, but it's a lot more popular now than it was then. The Scarlett Witch actress performs a love scene with Josh Brolin, who would later go on to play Thanos in the MCU, which makes this scene stand out even more, while also being a bit weird. "It was probably weirder for him than for me because he has a daughter my age, so I'm sure that was weird for both of them," said Olsen when asked about the scene in question with Brolin. The Oldboy love scene definitely has Marvel Cinematic Universe fans reaching for the rewind button.
Kate Mara and Ellen Page in My Days of Mercy
Kate Mara fans had been wondering if the actress was ever going to do a true nude scene. She had done brief scenes in the past, but it wasn't until she started working with her friend Ellen Page on My Days of Mercy in 2016 that it happened. When talking about the scene, she noted that it was natural to go nude for the movie because, "we're [she and Page] so comfortable with each other, and it feels easy and you have an instant connection and trust. So it made all of that sort of natural and easy." The aforementioned scene nearly broke the internet when it was released and it continues to be a popular search online.
Phoebe Cates in Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Phoebe Cates' nude scene in Fast Times at Ridgemont High is one of the most iconic of all time. Rolling Stone called it, "the most memorable bikini-drop in cinema history," and Cates has said that she had "the most fun" when making the movie. The actress has gone on to say that doing nude scenes really isn't that big of a deal. Bonus points go to this scene for including The Cars deep track "Moving In Stereo," cementing the memory of Cates through audio and visual mediums. This scene is more than likely on every nudity on the big screen list ever made.
Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct
Paul Verhoeven's 1992 movie Basic Instinct was pretty much overshadowed by Sharon Stone's now-legendary leg-crossing scene. Stone's Catherine Tramell throws some investigators off by slowly crossing and uncrossing her legs, while not wearing any underwear. There has been some confusion as to whether or not the actress knew she was baring it all, but she agrees that the scene is appropriate for the movie and notes that if she had been the director, she would have left it in. The scene has been recreated by Stone in recent years and is a part of popular culture.
Kevin Bacon in Wild Things
1998's Wild Things may as well have its own category in terms of nudity. While viewers anticipated seeing some female nudity from the promotional material, there weren't a lot of people expecting to see some full frontal nudity from Kevin Bacon. While Bacon has no problem with nudity, he does feel talking about it has become more of a nuisance over the years. "It kind of ended up being, I don't know, just kind of boring to me as a topic of conversation," he said in a recent interview. It may be boring for him, but there are still plenty of people pausing that shower scene.
Taraji P. Henson in Baby Boy
Taraji P. Henson went nude for her third big screen performance in 2001's Baby Boy, opposite her co-star Tyrese. Though the scene is rather long, it has some edits that are all over the place, which had many people going back to hit rewind and pause a number of times. Henson says she prepared for the scene the night before by looking at her body and coming to terms with what she likes and does not like about it. She says, "So that when I did the scene the next day it wouldn't be about Taraji, because Taraji wouldn't make a sex video, but Yvette is in the room with her man and Taraji does not exist in that moment." There's no question that this scene burned some holes through DVDs for being on pause for too long.
Ana de Armas in Blade Runner 2049
Ana de Armas' nude scenes in Blade Runner 2049 are some of the most memorable. The Cuban actress has been naked on the big screen a number of times over the years and has no problem with performing the scenes. However, when Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve brought up possibly cutting her hair for the role, she was not into it and requested to wear a wig. There's no doubt that de Armas added some more visual delight in a movie already filled with beautiful scenery.
Sara Rue in Gypsy 83
Sara Rue had roles in Pearl Harbor, Roseanne, Blossom, and a ton of other projects, but it's her role in Gypsy 83 that stands out for a lot of fans. She went nude in the movie and then again in 2010's For Christ's Sakes, which a lot of people have gone back to find after she guest-starred on The Big Bang Theory as Leonard Hofstadter's girlfriend. She also had a role on Two and a Half Men, but Gypsy 83 is one that gets searched for the most these days.
Denise Richards in Wild Things
Denise Richards, Neve Campbell, and Matt Dillon took part in one of Hollywood's most memorable threesomes in 1998's Wild Things. Richards is naked in multiple scenes, while Campbell decided against baring it all for the camera. When thinking back to the movie, Richards laughed when recalling the negotiations that went on before production took place. "Yeah, the language going back and forth to your agents and managers of how many, [to] what nipple," she laughed. Richards also shared that it was originally supposed to be one nipple "but it went to two." The movie certainly shows off a lot of Richards and Kevin Bacon.
Tia Carrere in Showdown in Little Tokyo
Many Wayne's World fans were shocked to go back and see Tia Carrere nude in Showdown in Little Tokyo. The action movie also stars Dolph Lundgren and Brandon Lee, but unfortunately, the nude scene is probably the best part about the whole movie, which is riddled with continuity errors and stiff acting. To add insult to injury, it's not even Carrere who performs the love scene with Lundgren. Instead, it's body double actress Tera Tabrizi. Whatever the case may be, this scene more than likely had a lot of people hitting that rewind button. Fun fact: Carrere did not do any real nudity until she posed for Playboy in 2003 at the age of 35.
Ken Jeong in The Hangover
One of the most shocking scenes in The Hangover comes when Ken Jeong's Mr. Chow jumps out of the trunk of a car, fully naked. Jeong says he had body issues before performing that one particular wild scene, noting that it was his idea. "I learned about myself as a person and as an actor during the first Hangover with the shocking nudity," he says. His wife also pointed out that his size down there would also help even the most insecure man in the audience come to grips with their anatomy. Let's just say Jeong is no Dirk Diggler.
Jennifer Lopez in Money Train
Jennifer Lopez received her big break when she was offered a role in 1995's Money Train. It was also her first and truly nude role and fans have since gone back to it many times over the past 25 years. However, Lopez has stated recently that she did not enjoy this particular scene, though she never names the movie or the actor it was with. But, since it was her first, we know that it's Money Train and she's more than likely talking about Wesley Snipes. In 2019 she said, "I didn't want to do it. I didn't think it was necessary. I wish now I had put up more of a fight." She did note that the movie helped her career and helped her fight for herself more.
Jamie Lee Curtis in Trading Places
If Phoebe Cate's nude scene in Fast Times at Ridgemont High is the most memorable bikini drops, Jamie Lee Curtis' scene in 1983's Trading Places is the most memorable wig removing scene. In the movie, she plays a prostitute with a heart of gold alongside Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd. In an interview from the 1980s, Curtis recalled all of the blowback she got for being a "Scream Queen," back before she did any nudity at all. "Then I do two movies in which I take my clothes off. And now I'm considered legit," she said. A lot of VCRs probably had to go to the repair shop when Trading Places came out on video.
Scarlett Johansson in Under the Skin
While audiences got a tease of Scarlett Johansson nudity in 2004's A Good Woman, it wasn't until 2014's Under the Skin that she went all out and showed her skin. Now, MCU fans know what Natasha Romanoff looks like naked, even though she didn't want it to be traditionally sexy. When agreeing to take on the part, she had one stipulation over the nudity. Johansson says, "She was a totally different species, so her nudity was kind of practical. I also had black hair. That was my idea -- I didn't think I should be a blonde sort of bombshell. Naked, but not too sexy." Some people might not agree with the whole "not too sexy" thing as Johansson is one of the most searched women on the internet.
Helen Mirren in Excalibur
Helen Mirren was no stranger to nudity by the time she made Excalibur in 1981. She had already done an erotic film and 1979's Caligula where she said it felt weird if you had clothing on during production. But, Excalibur will always be a one of the most paused and rewound movies in cinematic history. Mirren's costumes in the movie are memorable on their own and she's still waiting to get her hands on one important piece. The actual breastplate that she wears in the movie is in director John Boorman's possession, though it will be passed on to Mirren in his will when he dies.
Reese Witherspoon in Twilight
Before Reese Witherspoon starred in Legally Blonde, she was in a movie called Twilight in 1998. In the movie, Witherspoon's Mel Ames character strips down for her boyfriend in a scene that has more than likely burned holes through DVDs for being on pause for too long. The actress also went nude for the 2014 movie Wild, where she admits that she had to get a hypnotist in order to calm her nerves before disrobing on camera.
Christina Ricci in Prozac Nation
Christina Ricci stunned audiences when she went topless for 2001's Prozac Nation. She has since gotten nude for movie and TV roles and does not mind disrobing for the camera. "I trained my brain not to care about nudity at work," she says. "It's like going to the beach. You could spend the whole time obsessing, or you could just go to the beach, forget about how you look and have a good time." Even though Prozac Nation isn't the most uplifting movie, it did provide some DVD pausing moments for a lot of people.
Salma Hayek in Desperado
Salma Hayek was not a household name when she made Desperado in 1995. However, that all changed after her performance in the movie, opposite Antonio Banderas, which also features one of the most paused moments of 1995 during a love scene between the two actors. At the time, Hayek was nervous about performing the scenes nude because she was worried about what her family would think. That all changed when the movie hit theaters, though it wasn't evident to her yet. "When the movie came out the critics were saying, 'Salma Hayek is a bombshell'," she said. "I was confused because I thought they were saying that the movie had 'bombed', as in failed, and it was all my fault," she laughs.
Rosario Dawson in Trance
Rosario Dawson had already disrobed for the camera by the time she made 2013's Trance, but this is the movie that gets searched for the most out of her filmography, thanks to some full frontal nudity. When doing press for Trance, Dawson said, "I felt really comfortable on set that day because I knew what my mission was." She adds, "and I felt excited to know that this is something a lot of people might, like, have a moment with [watching the film], but if they're paying attention, they're actually going to understand something very key." Like the majority of the scenes mentioned on this list, the nudity serves the story, while also giving people the option to rewind a few times.
Demi Moore in Striptease
Demi Moore had done quite a bit of nude scenes in her career before getting to 1996's Striptease, which netted her a $12.5 million payday, a record for an actress at the time. While the movie has plenty of rewind and pause-worthy moments, it's also the movie where Moore says it changed her perception of herself and made her find her acceptance of herself. Whatever the case may be, it sounds like a win/win situation for everybody involved.