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The latest way to prove you’re a serious actress? Take your clothes off.

The latest way to prove you’re a serious actress? Take your clothes off. (photo)

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What would you expect a profile about a sexually volatile woman written by her ex (!) to be like? How about alternately salacious and bitter, punctuated by regular reminders of how she can’t manage her money?

Such is the case with Jay Bulger’s New York magazine feature on actress Paz de la Huerta, the thesis of which seems to be that “Paz da la Huerta enjoys taking off her clothes and recently realized other people enjoy this as well.”

That, in and of itself, seems neither unreasonable nor unfair. At the ripe old age of 25, Ms. de la Huerta primary commodities have so far proven to be beauty and fearlessness. She may, in fact, be a great actress, but it’s hard to tell. Her most important part to date (she has a major role in Gaspar Noé’s “Enter the Void,” out later this year), in “The Limits of Control,” involved her being naked all the time — and not much more. Her character’s name was “Nude.”

It’s fascinating that director Jim Jarmusch would say of de la Huerta “Nudity is her favorite wardrobe, her way of confronting her own fears head-on. And that’s what makes her a great actor.” And it’s also vaguely nonsensical.

The connotation between being a “serious actor” and getting naked is a recent and weird development. There was some pre-Code nudity (Fay Wray getting stripped by King Kong in 1933 was cut when it was re-issued), then it went dormant, re-emerging as a way to get people to see allegedly classy foreign films in the ’50s, brought into American film in the ’60s, brazenly prevalent in the ’80s and ’90s, and then — in studio filmmaking, obviously, but also in a lot of arthouse/indie fare — turning into a rare novelty, to the point where Halle Berry getting half a million for two seconds of toplessness in “Swordfish” was news. (Or not. Print the legend.)

06022010_jazz.jpgWatching a representative ’70s movie like “All That Jazz” is an exercise in seeing what it’s like when sexual barriers and modest norms get shattered; there was a ridiculous amount of casual nudity in ’70s Hollywood. Now it’s a thing to be commented upon. No less sober an auditor than the New York Times‘ A.O. Scott, reflecting on Greta Gerwig, couldn’t stop himself from noting that “when she takes off her clothes — which is not infrequently — it does not seem teasing or exhibitionistic but disarmingly matter-of-fact.”

There aren’t many well-known actresses who do this on a regular basis, and they’re not who you’d expect. No Megan Fox, but absolutely Naomi Watts, Anne Hathaway, Samantha Morton, Marisa Tomei, Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore and Gerwig, who may not quality as “well-known” yet, but is on her way. (I’d address male nudity here, but now that Harvey Keitel keeps his pants on, the sampling’s basically down to Ewan McGregor and Jason Segal in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”)

All of those mentioned above are serious actresses (and Morton’s one of the most serious in the world). Meanwhile, the disreputable “T&A comedy” is deader than casual dramatic nudity. This is not a criticism: god knows writing this post without sounding like a creep has been hard enough. But if Jim Jarmusch wants to suggest that Paz de la Huerta is a great, fearless actress because she’s taking her clothes off, well, that’s become the connotation now. Nudity’s no longer what brings them in: it’s the thing that screams serious, chance-taking actor.

[Photos: “The Limits of Control,” Focus, 2009; “All That Jazz,” 20th Century Fox, 1979]

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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