The Hollywood Reporter’s most recent Actress Roundtable found stars Julianna Margulies, Jennifer Lopez, Kerry Washington, Kirsten Dunst, Sarah Paulson, Regina King and Constance Zimmer engaged in conversation about their respective television careers. After discussing everything from Lopez being labeled a “diva” to Paulson having two heads on “American Horror Story,” the conversation eventually turned to the subject of onscreen nudity.
The subject provoked contrasting opinions and responses from the assembled talent. Lopez, for her part, says that her views have changed now that she’s reached a different point in her career: “In videos and things that I do,” she says, “I’m very sexy and wear little clothes, but the truth is, when it comes to acting, I did it earlier in my career and now I just don’t feel sometimes that you have to do it. I’ve changed in that sense.”
Margulies, Washington and King, meanwhile, find that their thoughts have been informed by years of working on television: Margulies on “The Good Wife,” Washington on “Scandal” and King on “Southland,” among others. It’s a case-by-case issue that “depends on the character you’re playing,” says Margulies. “I’ve been playing the same character for seven seasons, and all of a sudden this season the girl is taking her clothes off. I’m seven years older than I was when I started it, and I love it. I mean, it’s CBS, so there’s only so much you can take off, but there’s something great about seeing a woman in her 40s having sex with someone and not being inhibited.”
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When asked to do something they’re not comfortable with, Washington says, “That’s what lawyers are for!” Margulies offers that simply discussing these matters before actually accepting the part is most prudent, but King brings up a different scenario: “Sometimes you already have the job and the nudity conversation didn’t come up until a couple seasons in. And then you get that script and go, ‘Whoa, oh, hmm…’ (Mimics dialing her lawyer).”
Legal representation isn’t always necessary when working with trusted collaborators. “Part of it for me is the director and the producers and that trust. There have been times in my career where the nudity wasn’t about the story, it wasn’t about the character, it was just because that shit sells.” Dunst, meanwhile, stays quiet until the end before echoing Washington’s sentiments: “I’m pretty much down for anything if the director is good.”
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