“Nudity”

Dear Jillaine -

I really get how unnerving it is to be informed at an audition, "By the way, this part requires nudity." You don't want to be an uptight priggish prude about it and at the same time you don't want to feel exploited. Some ideas:

First of all, let's think about Saint Francis, of whom it was said that sometimes, when he preached, in his ecstatic yearning to get closer to God, he would tear off all his clothes in front of the congregation. Perhaps we could call this "nakedness" as opposed to "nudity," which somehow has acquired prurient connotations. I offer Saint Francis as an example of how baring one's flesh can be in the service of baring one's soul. Not all nakedness is prurient.

As an example, let's go back to 1978. I'm on Cape Cod, shooting a film about a couple who've become so caught up in the materialism of the corporate rat race that they head out to the country to reconnect with Nature - their own, human nature and Mother Nature. While there they encounter a Native American woman who acts as a spiritual guide to each of them in different ways, helping to lead them back to their authenticity. In my character's case, there came a moment in the film which was rather like a crossroads. I was either going to take the leap into a new life, or not. Standing at the edge of a cranberry bog, the Native American disrobed and dove in. It was clear that she expected me to do the same. I hesitated, struggling with all of my old values and prejudices, and then I, too, stripped naked and dove in. Far from feeling this was an exploitation of my actor, I felt, deeply, that this was a kind of baptism for my character.

Jillaine - I guess I'm trying here to suggest some guidelines. If you can truthfully say that the full or partial nudity is crucial to the revelation of character, relationship, situation, plot etc. then by all means it is organic and artistically justified. If it serves none of the above then it is prurient and exploitative, which  could  advance a career , perhaps, but then that is what you'll be known for and seen as; it will be expected of you and increasingly difficult to say no to.

As T. S. Eliot said, we are "joined spirit and body, and therefore must serve as spirit and body. Visible and invisible, two worlds meet" in us. Jillaine, if all you're asked for is your body without your spirit, then that tells you something about where they're coming from. I'm not rejecting nudity out of hand; just make damn sure that by displaying your flesh you're revealing the truth.

Anthony Abeson