What Makes A Good Nude Scene, According To Patricia Clarkson

Patricia Clarkson in House of Cards

The entertainment world, like the real world, is being looked at with a magnifying glass as of late. Conversation around gender and race inequality have been major talking points, as show business institutions examine the way women and people of color are treated. This includes the handling of love scenes and nude scenes, with new changes helping to ensure everyone on set is comfortable.

Patricia Clarkson has had a long career on both the film and stage, and has had to de-robe a few times. In fact, Clarkson notably had a nude scene with Bradley Cooper in the Broadway revival of The Elephant Man. She recently spoke to what makes a good nude scene, declaring:

Sometimes I do think that nudity is essential to take the character to a different place. Nudity is always difficult. It’s never easy, and it shouldn’t be easy. It should be essential.

Well, that's one way of thinking about it. While nude scenes can sometimes be exploitative or unnecessary, Patricia Clarkson also believes the opposite is possible. She thinks nudity should be approached only when its essential to the story. As such, it has an important role in the narrative, rather than showing the ripped bodies of movie stars. While those scenes likely aren't going anywhere, Clarkson also believes actors baring their bodies could have a profound affect on a project.

Patricia Clarkson's comments come from her Q&A after winning the Precious Gem Award (via THR). The 59 year-old actress discussed various issues in show business, before touching on nudity on the screen and stage. Clarkson has only done a few nude scenes, although one of them was live on stage during the run of The Elephant Man with Bradley Cooper. But as the circumstances of the play warranted her nudity, it was something the actress was happy to do night after night.

Bradley Cooper seems to have similar feelings about nude scenes, if his directorial debut A Star Is Born is any indication. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper bore their bodies onscreen only briefly during artistic montages of Ally and Jackson's love. That is, until the gut punching bath tub scene in the film's second act. After Ally receives her first Grammy nominations, she and Jackson have an argument while she's in the tub. When he calls hi wife ugly things get especially heated, and Lady Gaga's character stands up, demanding he get out of the room.

This scene was actually the most nudity that Lady Gaga did in A Star Is Born. And ultimately it helped move the story forward, and the nudity is what Patricia Clarkson might refer to se "essential". Ally's vulnerability in that moment is shown through her nudity, as well as the visceral anger she feels in the moment.

Patricia Clarkson was recently seen on the final season of House of Cards, and has two movies in pre-production. Be sure to check CinemaBlend's 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.