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‘Barbie’ star Margot Robbie talks filming nude scenes

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One question people love to ask actors is, “How do you film nude scenes?” 

Actor Margot Robbie is no stranger to this question because she’s no stranger to the NSFW scene. The 33-year-old Barbie star bared it all in her breakout role in Martin Scorsese’s 2013 film, The Wolf of Wall Street, and partook in more explicit content in Damien Chazelle’s film, Babylon

Luckily, having filmed nude scenes herself, Robbie has offered up some Hollywood insights when it comes to capturing boobs, pubic hair, and genitalia on the big screen. 

In an interview with Australian breakfast radio show, Fitzy and Wippa with Kate Richie, the hosts inquired as to how nudity is portrayed in films without using an actor’s actual naked body.

“When you’ve got a period piece, I’ve heard that a lot of the time it’s actually quite hard to find women with real breasts and public hair,” Wippa said. 

“They have things called merkins,” responded Robbie. “Which is like a wig, but for genitalia.”

“I remember on Wolf of Wall Street there was an entire merkin room. There was a whole room full of merkins,” Robbie elaborated. 

“Did you name any of them yourself, Margot?” asked Fitzy of the merkins. 

Robbie wisely dodged with, “I’m not gonna go into detail, but it was fascinating and a little known fact about the filmmaking industry.”

Fascinating, indeed!

For the people in the back: Yes, a merkin is a wig for pubic hair. In the filmmaking industry, merkins are typically used in nude scenes. In fact, actor Jared Leto gave the merkin a shoutout at the 2016 Oscars while presenting the award for Best Production Design. 

“Without the genius contributions of makeup artists and hair stylists, we wouldn’t lose ourselves in classic films like The Godfather, The Elephant Man, Raging Bull, Magic Mike 2,” said Leto. “Think about it. But let’s be honest, they deserve an award just for putting up with us actors, not to mention the prosthetics: the wigs, the occasional merkin. If you happen to be laughing, please explain it to the person next to you, and if you aren’t, Google it.”

Appearing on The Graham Norton Show, Robbie talked about how she was quickly desensitized to nudity while on set for the film, Babylon

Of Robbie’s costuming in the notorious party scene where the actress crowdsurfs, actor Cate Blanchett asked, “How did you cope [with] keeping that thing on your breasts? I’m watching that going, ‘Is that gonna stay on?’ That is a costuming feat.”

Robbie responded noting that there were “a lot of slips” but given the content of the movie she was still probably the “most clothed person” in that scene. 

“Honestly, we were all so desensitized to nudity very quickly,” explained Robbie. “In that scene there’s literally orgies happening behind us while people are talking.” 

While many people would gladly appear naked in a movie for the art, fame, and money of it all, it doesn’t always make up for the repercussions that may happen in one’s personal life. In an interview on the Screen Time podcast, Robbie shared that one of her brothers didn’t speak to her for months after seeing her full frontal nude scene in The Wolf of Wall Street.

After watching the movie with her family (weird choice, but OK!), Robbie said that one of her brothers needed a little time out. 

“One of my brothers didn’t speak to me for three months afterwards,” said the actress. “Not because he was mad, he was just like, ‘I just need a minute before I can consider you my sister again.’”

In a 2014 interview with The Telegraph, Robbie admitted that while she was apprehensive about the nude scenes in The Wolf of Wall Street, her manager told her, “If there’s ever going to be a time for nudity, this is the director [Martin Scorsese] you do it with.”

It was also important to Robbie that her character’s nudity was justified. In the same interview she said, “I think nudity for the sake of nudity is shameful. If they’ve put it in just so that a girl gets her top off, then that’s disgusting. And you can always tell. But I also think it’s disgusting when someone would have got naked in real life, [but] in the film they conveniently leave their bra on, or hold up the bed sheet. Seeing someone being choreographed into being covered up irritates me just as much.”

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