Filming sex scenes in movies and TV shows haven’t always been approached in ethical ways and sometimes brought later regret in acting careers. Actresses, especially, have had to begin placing nudity clauses in their contracts to avoid having their bodies exploited in movies and TV shows depicting more graphic sexual scenarios.
One example of this is Ginnifer Goodwin who had to do detailed sex scenes for the old HBO series Big Love. As fans of that show remember, it explored polygamy within a Mormon family living in the Salt Lake City suburbs.
As bizarre as the theme of the show was, many critics considered it one of the best TV shows of the 2000s. However, to combat some of the graphic nudity for the women, Goodwin occasionally recounts how she’d work around the problem.
Some might be appalled at the real nudity clause on TV
When Goodwin appeared on her good friend Justin Long’s podcast (Life is Short) recently, she talked about her time on Big Love and how she had to deal with the nudity on the show.
Anyone who watched the show all the way through will know there were plenty depictions of sex, including between Goodwin and her co-star: the late Bill Paxton.
At the time, it was thought all nudity clauses were literal and without loopholes.
As Goodwin explains on Long’s podcast, she says her friend Laura Linney told her she found out cable networks did have an eerie workaround on the clause. Apparently they could still show the intimate areas of women in the premiere episodes, though only then and never after.
If this sounds disturbing and indicative of what women had to put up with in movies and TV, Goodwin at least had a good-natured way to fight back.
She explained how she’d take on some of the sex scenes with Paxton to give a reminder she worked out a solid nudity clause throughout the show’s run.
What steps did Goodwin take without offending anyone?
While shooting sex scenes, there was usually specific placement of Goodwin’s arms and legs so certain areas would be covered by the cameras. Nevertheless, the Linney comment above made Goodwin worry HBO would use a scene showing something once.
The threat of having to sue HBO obviously wasn’t desirable while appearing on a hit series. Considering this was also before the #MeToo movement began, women had to put up with a lot of things they don’t have to now.
Even so, Goodwin had to protect herself somehow, so she came up with some hilarious ingenuity.
Justin Long remembered Goodwin telling him she started using little sticky notes and/or Magic Marker messages during sex scenes as a reminder to the director.
Everyone in the podcast studio guffawed when she noted she’d place notes like “No way Jose!” on those strategically placed notes to uphold her contract clause.
How Goodwin really felt about doing those scenes isn’t known. Regardless, nudity clauses may be more of standard thanks to her.
How many actresses have nudity clauses now?
Clearly, not every actress has the power to take on nudity like Ginnifer Goodwin managed to uphold. Newer actresses are still vulnerable to this when starting out in movies or working on cable/streaming.
Thanks to the #MeToo movement, more established actresses have agreed to no nudity contracts. This list is a lot longer in more recent years, including numerous A-list names. Some of those actresses (like Sarah Jessica Parker) managed to wrangle a non-nudity clause years ago already.
Let’s hope Goodwin helps guide new actresses toward how to go about such clauses so they can enjoy being on hit shows without feeling like they’re being taken advantage of in front of the cameras.