‘The Male Gaze’: Keira Knightley Says No More Nude Scenes With Male Directors
Keira Knightley
Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

In a podcast interview released this month, actress Keira Knightley revealed that she has a new rule for appearing in nude scenes: they can only be in films with a woman director.

Knightley, who said in March 2020 that she had implemented a no-nudity clause in her contract with veto power over any sex scene she appeared in, told the Chanel Connects podcast of her new ban on male directors: “I don’t have an absolute ban but I kind of do with men. It’s partly vanity and also it’s the male gaze.”

“If I was making a story that was about that journey of motherhood and body [acceptance], I feel like, I’m sorry, but that would have to be with a female film-maker,” Knightley stated. “If it was about motherhood, about how extraordinary that body is, about how suddenly you’re looking at this body that you’ve got to know and is your own and it’s seen in a completely different way and it’s changed in ways which are unfathomable to you before you become a mother, then yeah, I would totally be up for exploring that with a woman who would understand that. But I feel very uncomfortable now trying to portray the male gaze.”

Arguing that some films needed nude scenes, Knightley stated, “I don’t want it to be those horrible sex scenes where you’re all greased up and everybody is grunting. I’m not interested in doing that. Saying that, there’s times where I go, ‘Yeah, I completely see where this sex would be really good in this film and you basically just need somebody to look hot,’ so therefore you can use somebody else. Because I’m too vain, and the body has had two children now, and I’d just rather not stand in front of a group of men naked.”

In March 2020, Knightley, who has two young daughters, told Financial Times, “I’m really happy with my body. It’s done an amazing thing. But I also don’t want to stand there in front of a whole film crew. The nipples droop!” She added, “I have been comfortable earlier with more nudity than I am now. I have had a kid, I am in my 30s, I am very happy with my body.”

Knightley pointed out the risk that a nude scene might be used on a pornographic site, saying, “You can take the whole thing and put it in a completely different thing, and it’s on some porn site.”

Speaking of the no-nudity clause in her contract and her control over which body doubles were used and how nude scenes were edited, she said, “That was a choice. I get to choose the body double. It is an interesting selection process! It kind of goes like, ‘That’s a little bit like you, but better. She has a lovely body, so she can do this’ … then I get final approval of what the edit is.”

In 2018, Knightley told TV host Ellen DeGeneres that Knightley’s daughter was not allowed to watch certain Disney films because of the way women were portrayed. She said that the Disney animated Cinderella “waits around for a rich guy to rescue her. Don’t! Rescue yourself. Obviously!” The Little Mermaid: “I mean, the songs are great, but do not give your voice up for a man. Hello!”

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