Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
All I see are Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal talking about being naked in their new movie. Was that their choice? How much control did they get?
—Russell, via the inbox
Indeed, Hathaway and Gyllenhaal sure did get naked for that movie that nobody saw. In a recent radio interview, Hathaway said she and her co-star got "final cut approval" over their nude scenes -- the power to decide exactly which nude takes made it to the big screen. That's huge, because ...
... nobody gets that kind of power in Hollywood these days. Not unless you have a name like Hathaway or Gyllenhaal, or a moniker that rhymes with, say, Frangelina Nolie.
"Typically actors don't get that, by any stretch," says Miles Feldman, partner at Raines Feldman LLP. "Final cut approval is only for A-list on-screen talent."
So what kind of power does your average actor usually have? Some. But not a whole lot.
Yes, the Screen Actors Guild does protect actors -- on paper. SAG rules require producers to seek an actor's permission in advance if there are any nude scenes in the offing. That means that, technically, an actor has the right to say no to any nekkidness on camera. In fact, SAG rules state that an actor must be warned in advance if he or she must strip down even for an interview or audition.
"The SAG agreement requires that if you have nudity you need a waiver from the actor to do that," says entertainment attorney E. Barry Haldeman, who has been privy to the nudity negotiations of stars like Tom Cruise.
But actors don't hold nearly as much power around here as suits do. You know, suits? Producers, studio heads -- the people who hire and fire? If a jobless actress wants to work, she'd best consider signing that nudity waiver right quick and then drop her skivvies before the money people change their minds and go hire Heather Graham.
"Producers generally require a good amount of leeway with actors exposing themselves," Raines tells me. "It all depends on how much negotiating power the actor has. But usually the actor wouldn't have much say over the details, like, say, the nude body doubles."
Now, that isn't to say that actors don't fight back. They do. And they win. You ready for a blind item, courtesy of Haldeman? Of course you are, and Happy Hannukah.
Once upon a time there was an actress. She was working for a very famous director with an edgy rep. The script called for scenes in which the actress's character was naked. But the actress's contract gave the director permission to shoot her nude only from the waist up.
Well and good. Anyway, the actress was worried that the director would go back on his word; after all, she still had to be basically nude so the scene would look real, even if her shots were only from the waist up. So what did the actress do? She showed up on set with a whole bunch of masking tape on her nether regions.
The director asked if she was going to wear the tape for the whole shoot. She said yes. The director turned to a cameraman and said, "move the shot up." Apparently, the director was planning on ignoring his legal obligations -- and shooting the actress from the waist down. Sure, the actress could have sued, but she probably would have had a hard time finding work if she did, and the director knew it.
Smart actress, if you ask me.