The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

The Male Nude Scenes of My Youth: The R-Rated Edition

Written by: Nanna Torhild, Special to CC2K

The amazing Tony Laszlo has written extensively on the female nudity in film and many may say “Where is the other side to that equation” (and by ‘many’ I mean me).  I always get bizarre looks from some of my closest friends when I get excited over male nudity in a film. Apparently they’re still under the belief that “good girls” don’t get excited about seeing penis on the screen but I’m not ashamed to say that I’ll see a movie just because it has male nudity in it! My response is out of defiance because why do the majority of mainstream movies get reduced ratings for allowing female nudity but male nudity is the kiss of death? The movies listed here are the few that boast an R-rating and still have male, full-frontal nudity in them while also being memorable to me personally. There’s not many but hopefully it’ll dispel the notion that male nudity is only for porn (or classy NC-17 films).  ***NOTE Videos NSFW ***

Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a hilarious and honest depiction of the post-breakup world of one musician played by Jason Segel, yet most people just say “it’s that funny movie where the guy shows his junk. While I don’t gravitate toward Jason Segal in a sexual sense, having his character get naked not once but twice, was both humorous and vulnerable his character. Based on a real-life breakup where he was nude, Segel’s Peter Bretter refuses to put on his clothes when his girlfriend, the eponymous Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell) tells him to, because then “I’ll know its over.” The first couple seconds of Segel’s junk is hilarious and shocking if you didn’t know it was coming, but it’s also sad because he’s trying to convince his girlfriend to stay and all she can do is be awkward since he’s naked. Sure there’s another nude moment at the end that many thought was just to get a second shot of Segel’s penis, but it’s that opening moment that sets the tone for the entire film.

The 2004 biopic Kinsey was the first time I ever saw male nudity in a film and the movie’s pretty damn good too! Kinsey tells the story of the sex study performed by Dr. Alfred Kinsey (Liam Neeson) and the problems he had in his own personal life. The scene in question involves the adorable Peter Sarsgaard as assistant Clyde Martin as he undresses while having a full discussion with Kinsey. Sarsgaard himself put it best in the documentary This Film is Not Yet Rated when he said the scene was meant to be intentionally awkward and make the audience question where Clyde “was doing something” that was meant to be sexual. The casual element of it was what was so shocking to me when I saw this film as I was normally used to nudity reserved for sex scenes and here Sarsgaard gets undressed, folds his clothes, all while carrying on a conversation where you have no idea where to look! At a certain point I had to say “is he gonna make a sandwich or something, he’s been naked way too long!” It’s that question, why is he so casual about his sexuality, that spurs the entire discussion of the film itself. Who knew all that could be inferred from one guy walking around naked?{/youtube}

Velvet Goldmine
Ah Velvet Goldmine, the movie that changed my world forever! To start, I love this movie and the soundtrack is phenomenal…but no one wants to hear about that. This was my first foray into seeing male genitalia on the screen and….wow was it something to see! The movie itself looks at two solo singers during the Glam Rock period of the 1960s and the scene in question is quite an introduction to rampaging rocker Curt Wild (Ewan McGregor). McGregor has been nude in so many movies I could have filled this entire article with his scenes alone, but Velvet Goldmine just seems to snidely make fun of his nudity. McGregor himself said he improvised much of the scene that has him performing a song, jumping around without pants and throwing glitter on himself. It’s an introduction where you don’t know if you should be repulsed by the character, but that doesn’t matter because the camera is focused right on McGregor’s lower region. It’s not necessary to the plot, its pure shock value and it succeeded beautifully!

Eastern Promises
The 2007 film Eastern Promises was the first experience I had with male nudity in a movie theater setting, with my mother sitting right next to me. The David Cronenberg actioner is filled with violence, sex, and a totally amazing and epic story about the Russian Mafia but it’s the final scene of the movie that’s always stuck with people. After everything is said and done, the mysterious Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen) is relaxing in a steam room with nothing but a towel. The moment is ruined though when two assassins show up and start a knife fight with him. First, the scene is kind of funny because there’s no advantage to fighting a knife fight in a steam room, and second, you just feel every cut on Mortensen’s character because he’s got no defense, and yet he gains the upper hand! It’s bloody, it’s well-shot, and it makes you appreciate the brutal fighting style that can come out of being caught unawares in the buff.


There aren’t many R-rated films that have male nudity due to some odd reason that penises are more detrimental to American audiences than breasts or vaginas. The scenes mentioned above are memorable to me because of how rare they are in American films…and because they tout some of my favorite actors.