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Helen Hunt's Nude Scenes In The Sessions Didn't Scare Her (And That's Important)

Nude and sex scenes in movies are often seen as titillating affairs. Many people have puritanical feelings toward sex, feeling it must be hidden at all times. But at the end of the day, two consenting adults having sex doesn't have to be a big deal. It can just be fun. And that's precisely what tantalized Helen Hunt to sign on for the 2012 film, "The Sessions," which sees her play Cheryl Cohen-Greene, a sex surrogate for paralyzed poet Mark O'Brien (John Hawkes). 

Cheryl gets naked in several scenes, eventually having intercourse with Mark. While so much nudity may have deterred some from joining the cast, Hunt saw it as an exciting challenge. She told IndieWire in 2012, "Any hesitation I had about the nudity, I think what I thought was it's getting late ... It's getting too late in my life to care about the small things." It's a solid message about what nudity and sex can be without so much baggage attached to them. Everyone has genitalia, so it shouldn't be this dirty thing to hide away.

It proved to be a good move for the actor. She was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actress, and "The Sessions" remains one of Hunt's most memorable movies. She bares all, both physically and emotionally, for the part, and the film shows that sex doesn't have to be scary.

Helen Hunt thinks The Sessions is a great introduction to sex

With so much nudity and sex on display, some might assume "The Sessions" would've been rated NC-17. IndieWire discussed this with Helen Hunt, who said the movie should be seen by anyone who wants to see a different perspective on sex. "I think teenagers should see this movie!" she exclaimed. "I think they should see a movie about sex that's not weird, or titillating, or shame-ridden, or cool, or slick. Sex is just not any of those things." The film could've been slapped with an NC-17 rating if it wasn't for one choice.

While Hunt's character has many nude scenes, John Hawkes' private parts are covered, which some might view as sexist. "The Sessions" writer-director Ben Lewin spoke with The Los Angeles Times about that approach. "I was pretty aware of [the MPAA's] attitude toward erect penises — that we'd immediately be dumped into quasi-porno land." It's just people's bodies, but not depicting such anatomy allowed the film to receive an R rating, permitting it to be seen and advertised much more easily. Historically, NC-17 movies fare poorly at the box office.

For her part, Hunt understood the decision. She summed it up to the LA Times pretty well: "For me, the movie is about having a body, and everybody's God-given right to get off."