For many actors, the decision to go nude for a role is a tough one to make. They grapple with the idea that millions of strangers will see their butt cleavage, that Great Aunt Barb might have a heart attack when she’s sees a nip slip, and what will Mom think? Nothing but a flashback to her own youthful nude scenes, if your mother happens to be Susan Sarandon. Sarandon’s daughter Eva Amurri will star in nine episodes of Californication, in which she plays a creative writing stripper — a student of professor Hank Moody by day, pole dancer by night. I know a gaggle of girls who would rather streak down Park Avenue then dance and crawl around in the nude in front of their mother, but that’s how Eva’s clan does it. Sarandon herself has experience with nudity, playing a seductress in 1978’s Pretty Baby, as a lesbian lover to Catherine Deneuve in 1983’s The Hunger, and she has a nude sex scene with James Spader in 1990’s White Palace. Amurri’s role has the majority ruling ‘like mother, like daughter,’ and though the pictures prove the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, it’s their fun and empowering position on nudity that makes the mother/daughter naked team more interesting.
While Amurri prepped for the role, Sarandon accompanied her to several of her pole-dancing classes, joining in on the neo-fitness craze. “We didn’t, like, do it together, although I’m sure that’s a nice visual for people,” she says, “She came and she tried a little bit and she was a really great sport and awesome at it.”
Sarandon never actually got up on the pole, but the fitness classes also involved lap dances and erotic dance numbers. The intense fitness and athleticism Amurri learned gave her a new appreciation for her body image — and for strippers: “I have such a respect now for women who do this. It’s very athletic, I mean, they’re athletes!”
Though some interpret her role as a tasteless “‘nude campaign’ she uses to promote her appearance,” others will agree with Amurri’s opinion of nondiscriminatory nakedness. “Men are naked as much as the women are on that show, which I really like. If you’re going to be naked, at least it’s equal-opportunity nudity.”
Her mother also stands behind Amurri’s decision. “I think if she were playing something that was going to be really hard for her psychologically or damaging, I’d be more concerned, but she had a really good time with the sex thing.”
While we New Yorkers are used to seeing Amurri hanging out at Hudson Bar and Books, she’s temporarily traded her West Village apartment to film Californication in LA.