6 of the most memorable nude scenes in modern cinema
It’s hard to believe now, but back in the 1990s seeing nudity wasn’t as easy as simply jumping on your phone and going online. It wasn’t forced upon you.
It was rare and hard to find, and movies were your best chance of stealing a glance of your favourite actor sans clothing – teenagers waiting patiently with their fingers crossed every time there was a bedroom, shower or beach scene.
For while gratuitous nude scenes may be commonplace today, they were instantly immortalised in the 1980s through the 2000s. Here are some of most memorable.
It’d be downright misogynistic to include only female nudity here, and the reveal of Mark Wahlberg’s masterpiece prosthetic in cult and critical hit Boogie Nights is up there with one of the most anticipated nude reveals in modern cinema. Of course, there are countless nude scenes featuring a young Heather Graham, Julianne Moore and countless others, but Dirk Diggler’s reveal was teased the entire movie before finally lifting the veil in the final minutes. Wahlberg kept the prosthetic and is said to keep it on his mantelpiece.
It was 1999 when Shannon Elizabeth went from a nobody to one of the most recognisable faces in the world for a few hot minutes. It all came courtesy of a nude scene for the ages in which she inexplicably strips naked while being tutored by Jason Biggs in American Pie. It made Elizabeth a star overnight and she returned for the sequel, which as far as bad teen gross-out comedies go, was actually half decent. Ethically, the scene likely wouldn’t play today. But neither do 1950s Disney books.
It’s hard to believe this movie is almost 10 years old. It still holds up to this day and counts as some of Jason Segel’s best work. But it’s probably best remembered for Segel’s nude opening scene. He wanders around with his gear on show for an unnecessary amount of time while being dumped. The irony here is he’s the last person in the film – which stars Mila Kunis and Kristen Bell – that anyone wanted to see nude. It’s no doubt a cheeky dig at Hollywood’s double standards when it comes to nudity.
Today, sci-fi spoof Starship Troopers remains a far more popular film-cum-franchise than 1998’s Wild Things. While Denise Richards goes full frontal in both, it’s the latter film and that pool scene with Neve Campbell that still bounces across the internet regularly and defined an otherwise largely forgettable movie – such is the way with films featuring gratuitous nude scenes.
Though nine years old, The Hangover remains one of the best comedies in recent memory and has the critical and commercial success to prove it. The breakout success launched the careers of Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and of course, former doctor turned comedian, Ken Jeong. As erratic and eccentric villain Mr Chow, Jeong’s first scene sees him launch from the trunk of a car completely nude before wielding a tyre iron like a staff and attacking his three would-be captors in full frontal nudity. In a movie choc-full of memorable scenes, this one is well up there.
Narrated in retrospect by a dead character, drama American Beauty was the biggest film of 1999, taking home five Academy Awards, including best picture and best actor for Kevin Spacey. It still holds up today, but is perhaps best remembered for Spacey’s numerous fantasy scenes of his teenage daughter’s best friend, Angela, in which Mena Suvari lies naked on a bed surrounded by rose petals.