Image Credit: Sony

Jennifer Lawrence's 'No Hard Feelings' Nude Scene Is More Iconic Than You Think

Fifteen years ago, Viggo Mortensen scored himself an Oscar nomination for Eastern Promises, partly due to his commitment to playing a Russian gangster, but mostly thanks to buzz surrounding his nude bath house fight scene. The moment was jaw-dropping for its era — a man, at his most vulnerable, warding off would-be assassins with nary a banana hammock as a line of defense. It was a scene I’d never seen before on film, and never thought I’d see again — particularly not in a light-hearted comedy from Jennifer Lawrence and that guy from High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. But Jennifer Lawrence’s No Hard Feelings nude scene — during which Lawrence’s skinny-dipping character Maddie takes on a group of thieving teens — up and pulled a Viggo, riding one of the most surprising scenes in a comedy to a 2024 Golden Globes nomination. But, even so, I still don’t think anyone realizes just how big of a deal that scene was. 

I was late to No Hard Feelings. I chuckled at the trailer, which piqued my interest mostly because I had just finished a repeat binge of The Bear. But while I like Ebon Moss-Bachrach enough to survive the Thanksgiving episode more than once, I don’t like him enough to cringe all the way through Girls again, so No Hard Feelings descended down my watch list. Given it took me months — until it landed on Netflix — to give it a try, I’m shocked the scene was never spoiled. Instead, like the movie’s Kyle Mooney cameo, the moment took me by complete surprise. Like, why aren’t we talking about this? It took us until 2023 to get a movie in which a woman’s naked body is used to portray power that transcends sex. People, this is more ground-breaking than Michael Fassbender in Shame, and y’all wouldn’t shut up about that. 

Sure, even before Kate Winslet posed like one of Jack’s French girls, there were iconic nude scenes on film that made an impact. But the on-scene appreciation of the female form has always been grounded in sex, no matter how many Bhagavad-Gita references you try cram into a nude scene, Christopher Nolan. We’ve seen discussion around ground-breaking moments of size representation (hello, Kathy Bates in About Schmidt), LGBTQ+ representation (Gia), and even puppet representation (America! Fuck Yeah!), but, in those movies, women’s bodies were meant to simply be beautiful, a sight meant to be appreciated by the male gaze. In No Hard Feelings, we got the opposite — a woman’s nude body seen in warrior form, portraying aggression in a way that’s startling only because it’s never been done before. In this No Hard Feelings scene, Lawrence’s body is not meant to be beautiful, it’s meant to be feared. No wonder (mostly male) critics hated it. 

What’s more, the scene is even more poignant when you consider Lawrence’s experience as a victim of The Fappening. In this scene is an actress taking agency over her own nudity nearly 10 years after a leak that stripped her of all consent. She first did it in 2018’s Red Sparrow, and said on the press tour, “I feel like something that was taken from me, I got back. It’s my body, it’s my art, it’s my choice.” In No Hard Feelings, to have that choice steeped in strength seems particularly and inspiringly pointed. This is nudity on Lawrence’s own terms, and her terms are brilliantly hostile.  

Just to make sure this conversation hasn’t already happened, I googled “Jennifer Lawrence No Hard Feelings nude scene” and was inundated with, yes, porn sites (sorry, IT), but mostly other news sites answering whether Lawrence used a body double. C’mon, people — we gotta give this movie and Lawrence the credit they deserve. This is a film that’s a sensible one hour and 40 minutes long (thank you, editors), that at last uses Hall & Oates the right way, and that finally portrays women as intimidating as fuck. Bow down, etc.

Though it’s unlikely we’ll see Lawrence and No Hard Feelings land at the Oscars like Viggo, let’s at least award this scene icon status. And let’s not wait another 16 years until the next one like it, okay?