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November 08, 2003

Diane Keaton on Her First Nude Scene

Dear Friedrich --

In her upcoming movie, "Something's Gotta Give," Diane Keaton -- who's now 57 years old -- does her very first-ever nude scene. She was famous years ago as the one cast member of "Hair" who kept her clothes on. Karen Valby of Entertainment Weekly asked her, Why now? Here's Keaton's response:

Your idea about your body changes completely as you get older. Now I just see it as a body. It's not like this precious commodity that I have to hide because I'm like, Omigod, I don't want anyone ever to see me ever-ever, which I felt for about a bazillion years. But now I feel like, What's the difference? ... I still feel self-conscious, but I don't care about being in a movie and showing my naked body in a silly scene where I'm going "Wah! Nwah! Ahhh!" Who cares?

So: Don't show it when it's young and precious to you? Do show it when it's older and you don't care about it much anymore? Is that how it goes?

I guess I get it ...



posted by Michael at November 8, 2003


Maybe she wasn't fully nude, I don't remember, but she was pretty damn naked in "Looking for Mr. Goodbar." I don't know if any body doubles were used, but there were a few scenes at least where that would have been flat out impossible. As I recall, she gave similar answers to the questions then---I used to think it was a big deal but now I don't. I think some of this is actressy hype with the belief everybody else's memory is as short as hers. But, it gets attention for the movie, doesn't it?

Posted by: annette on November 8, 2003 4:36 PM

Sure does from me! And you're right, she was semi-naked in "Goodbar" -- I remember stills from the movie showing her topless. That was her "daring" performance. Actresses are funny, aren't they? Daryl Hannah, for instance, kept herself mainly covered up during her 20s and 30s (a few exceptions). Now that she's in her 40s she can't seem to keep her clothes on. I wonder what goes on in their heads. "Shoulda done it then; better catch up now"? Or: "Anything to keep my career going"? Any insights or guesses?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 8, 2003 4:44 PM

Hmm. Marilyn Monroe did her first nude scene in a movie called . . . "Something's Got to Give" (in 1962--she was 36 and died before completing the film).

Posted by: MG on November 8, 2003 6:08 PM

Well, I believe her about the self-consciousness bit. I remember a funny thing Woody Allen said about her performance in Annie Hall (which I can now look up, thanks to Amazon):

"That's her! Diane wakes up in the morning and apologizes. That's just her personality. It's very self-effacing. She's like all very smart people; extremely modest, extremely self-effacing. She's got that quality."

Posted by: Jacob on November 8, 2003 6:35 PM

I think it's natural for women to grow more comfortable about their bodies as they get a little older. This goes under your "Life's Cruel Ironies" post: as soon as you reach 35 or 40 and you're more comfortable with your physical wish you had the 19-year-old bod again!! :)

Posted by: annette on November 8, 2003 7:55 PM

That rings true. My theory where actresses specifically are concerned is that it has three stages:

1) You're young, ripe, fresh, hyper-aware of your body, hyper-aware that it's an issue, proud of it, resentful at the same time that it's such a big deal. If you're in America, there's the tiresome old drama of wanting to give yourself yet not wanting to be exploited ... (Tiresome only because it's played out over and over, not because it doesn't have validity.) So you either throw it out there wildly or you guard it too closely, or maybe both ...
2) You hit your 30s and 40s and you think two things: Sheesh, what was I think, what a little fool I was, what was I thinking. And: Lordy, my time as a sexy thang is limited, better enjoy it while I can.
3) You move on and it just ain't a big deal anymore. People have bodies. Why get worked up about it?

I wonder what the guy equivalent would be? In terms of moving through phases of that kind. I just don't think that for most straight American guys physical self-display is that huge an issue, even if the younger guys are getting more self-conscious about it. Rightly or wrongly, we seem to feel that semi-presentable is good enough.

I did run into one hilarious thing, though. Each year there's a fundraising evening thrown in NYC called "Broadway Bares." Idea is that it's a show in a packed nightclub, and all the gorgeous kids who dance and act in the background of the big Bway shows will get up there and really be sexy. The Wife and I went to a few of these shows, and what was most striking was how eager all the guy performers (all gay, of course) were to strip, and how relatively reserved about it the girl performers were -- and how many guys wanted to get naked, and how few were the girls who did. Not a very hetero evening.

I just think that the drama of physical (and emotional) self-display is so often such a big and fascinating deal for women. I think it's partly why there are so many more female dancers and actors than male (at least in the States), and why they're generally so much better than the guy performers are. (There are hundreds and hundreds of wonderful actresses out there.)

I remember taking a beginning dance class for a few months. Leotards, all that. It was hilarious. The class was full of overweight middle-aged and older women, obviously there to try to get back into shape. I was the youngest person in the class, and maybe the only guy. I'm not uncoordinated, and can goofy-party-dance OK, at least in straight-white-boy terms. But these women, stiff and overweight as they were, could all outdance me. My range of motion was better, I was slim, etc. But in leotards in front of a mirror, moving "expressively" to jazzy music? The women were just there, doin' it. You could see the music moving in them. Me, I looked like a high school soccer player doing (at best) funky calisthenics.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 8, 2003 8:23 PM

"And: Lordy, my time as a sexy thang is limited, better enjoy it while I can." Yes...but, I also think that's changing. Of course, I suppose men could comment on that better. But, I mean, Sophia Loren, Goldie Hawn, Catherine Deneuve, Susan Sarandon (she was already 40 in "Bull Durham"), Julie Christie (who looks completely remarkable for 63), Gloria Steinem, Candace Bergin (who was 42 or 43 when she started "Murphy Brown"), even Streisand until about her mid-fifties, were still, really, pretty hot babes. I think it also has to do (a lot) with mindset. Once upon a time, an actress was essentially taking "mother" roles at 35! The culture in general has viewed women as "viable" creatures much longer, and allows much sexier fashions than they once did. Princess Grace (Kelly), who I think was really at her most beautiful in her forties, gave an interview in 1968 when she was facing her fortieth birthday, when she said "For a woman, forty is the end. Death." I think that's awfully sad. Especially from a woman who was in reality still ravishing. Ten years later, when Steinem had her fortieth birthday, and people told her she "looked great for forty" her answer was: "this is what forty looks like." So I think "viability" really follows the woman and her spirit. Don't discount a nude scene from Diane Keaton. She might be hot! Even if she's 57.

Posted by: annette on November 8, 2003 10:26 PM

"The class was full of overweight middle-aged and older women, obviously there to try to get back into shape."

I've taken a beginner's dance class while being middle-aged and fat. I wasn't expecting to get into shape (and certainly not back into shape, never having been thin)--I wanted to do some mildly challenging motion to interesting music in a friendly environment.

Posted by: Nancy Lebovitz on November 9, 2003 10:48 AM

I think Keaton's partially an encultured one. I grew up dancing, and I really don't give a hoot if anyone sees my body. You like, you don't, both your problem. Whether or not I like my body isn't going to change what my body looks like. It is what it is. Personally, I'm tempted to have some nudes taken now (I'm 26), just so I can have some memories when I'm older.

Posted by: Courtney on November 9, 2003 12:50 PM

Last month,Darryl Hannah does a nude pictorial in PLAYBOY. This month, Shannon Dougherty does one. Now, Keaton does on-screen nude scene. Conclusion: "I haven't had a hit film/TV series since the 80s, time's getting on, and I need one last desperate effort to jumpstart a career that fizzled out a generation ago. Otherwise, I have nothing else to offer!" Seems to me that European actresses don't have this insecurity that American ones have. European actresses can do, or not do, nude scenes their entire careers, and still be taken seriously as talented actresses by the movie-going public. Older actresses nude can be just as attractive as younger ones. Case in point: Angie Dickinson in "Dressed To Kill".

Posted by: Michael Serafin on November 9, 2003 2:11 PM

Suzanne Somers and Farrah Fawcett are two others who resorted to Playboy when all else failed. (Natalie Wood is another who considered it, but she couldn't come to terms with Playboy because she wanted Edith Head to do the clothes. Uh, little clue, Natalie. It's Playboy. What clothes?) But I'm wondering...does this ever actually work? I can't think of any time anybody's actual career actually changed in any material way after doing Playboy. Don't any of these actresses ever think of that?

Posted by: annette on November 9, 2003 3:32 PM

Didn't Sharon Stone get the role in "Basic Instinct" after going the Playboy route? She may have been the only person to get a "quantum leap" career boost from appearing in Playboy.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on November 10, 2003 12:49 AM

Well, you could say the same about Holly Hunter. Nude scenes in both The Piano and Crash in her mature years.

I'm sure the reasons vary. Darryl Hannah may be forgiven for showing she still has a body others would kill for at half her age; Demi Moore likewise. Meg Ryan (In the Cut) did it for attention to her "serious" actress side -- and because it felt OK to do it for Jane Campion; Keaton still looks in pretty good shape, and probably feels these days she's in good company with other "serious" actors.

And Farrah Fawcett, no spring chicken, did a totally nude "mad" dance scene in Dr T and the Women, proving yet again that Robert Altman can get anyone to take their clothes off -- and apparently getting a big ovation from the entire cast and crew (no closed set).

Does anyone still care that much about screen nudity? The French directors seem to think nothing short of actual graphic sex will suffice as an actorly sacrifice. They'll be wanting to kill actors next ... Hmm

Posted by: Dave F on November 10, 2003 6:31 AM

I think posing nude in playboy served as a quantum leap career boost for both Vanessa Williams and Pamela Anderson. Has playboy posing ever sent any promising careers down the drain? This question might require a bit of research. . .

Posted by: Carl Jung on November 10, 2003 2:36 PM

Carl Jung,

as I recall it, Vanessa Williams had to give up her Miss America crown after Playboy (or was it Hustler?) leaked photos of her in lesbian sex scenes--nude of course. That was roughly 20 years ago. I am not sure what kind of quantum leap that is but it sure wrecked her aspirations at the time.

Posted by: Deb on November 10, 2003 10:27 PM


Point taken. It took Vanessa Williams five years after the scandal to release her first album en route to her success in music, theater, television and Hollywood movies. It cannot be argued, however, that Pamela Anderson owes her mega fame to a playboy appearances that enabled her to break into TV with "Home Improvement" and then "Baywatch" followed by successes with her movies "Planet Boom and "Barbed Wire. Playboy turned Pamala from a struggling Canadian model to one of the most photographed and widely admired women in the world.


Posted by: Carl on November 11, 2003 2:23 AM

Well, now I know when to close my eyes if I watch "Something's Gotta Give"....

Posted by: Johan on November 11, 2003 10:03 AM

Photographed, yes, for awhile (including on her honeymoon as I recall, to that rocker---Tommy Lee?---didn't thet wind up on the internet?), but when did Pamela Sue Anderson become one of the most admired women in the world? Plus, I think there is a difference between people who get launched by Playboy (and there are very few of those) and those who have actually revived a career through Playboy---0, I think.

Posted by: annette on November 11, 2003 4:23 PM

With all this talk of playboy, it is not a good day to be a man dressed in leotards taking a dance class with all women.

Posted by: shipshape on November 12, 2003 2:51 AM

So I think "viability" really follows the woman and her spirit. Don't discount a nude scene from Diane Keaton. She might be hot! Even if she's 57.

She might be hot? This women is on fire!


Posted by: John on January 2, 2004 11:23 PM

You are a fine organisation and I feel that it is my duty to inform you that Diane Keaton is not avalable on this network.So why do you have her listed.
You should take the time to research your subjects first.That way we out her in TV land would be better informed.
Sincerely yours,
Robert D.Klaguesd

Posted by: Robert D.Klagues on January 31, 2004 3:37 PM

Jenny McCarthy
Carmen Electra
Anna Nicole Smith
Pam Anderson (as already mentioned)

These are just a few of the ones I can think of whose Playboy appearances arguably turned out to be a net positive for them, bringing them fame, fortune, and at least a shot at breaking into Hollywood they otherwise might not have had. There are probably others as well.

Posted by: Mike on February 9, 2004 3:24 PM

Playboy pictorials are not undertaken by actresses with much, if anything, to lose. So any subsequent decline in their careers could be written off as inertial momentum. There are a few Cinderella stories though - which should be enough to keep 'em stripping in the future. There's Drew Barrymore (who, wild child that she is, actually seemed to be enjoying herself in her spread) went on produce "Charlie's Angels" - which gave her an odd sort of industry credibility, though not access to desirable acting work. [Playing Adam Sandler's girlfriend does *not* count.] But the real fairy-tale ending came to Kim Basinger, who actually went on to win a freaking Oscar! [Remember how great she was in... uh... that movie she won for? Playing that... uh... character?] I've always regretted that Alec Baldwin's political ambitions never panned out. Kim would have been the only politician's wife who not only displayed her pubic hair in a stroke mag but slept with Prince to boot. (Although I haven't been keeping track of Laura Bush lately...)

Posted by: Eric Krupin on April 2, 2004 9:21 AM

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