Richard Madden Explains Why Onscreen Nudity Can Project “Unrealistic” Expectations on Men

When it comes to body image, Richard Madden explained how men are also negatively affected by unattainable physical ideals.

EE British Academy Film Awards - Red Carpet Arrivals
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You might expect most actors to shy away from discussing onscreen nudity, but Richard Madden is not one to avoid the subject.

The star of BBC’s The Bodyguard (a series for which he won a Golden Globe this year) recently spoke to British Vogue about scenes from the show in which he wasn’t wearing any pants. The actor knows people might tune in because of those scenes, which left little to the imagination, but he is also quick to point out that he feels he is “projecting a very unrealistic body image” by appearing nude onscreen with a seemingly perfect body on full display.

Madden will also star in Rocketman, the forthcoming biopic about Elton John, in which there is a sex scene between John (played by Taron Egerton) and his former lover John Reid (Madden) that required both actors to be nude. It is often discussed how women are affected by the scrutiny the media places on their bodies—naked and clothed—but Madden wants to be sure his position on the subject is clear: Men are negatively affected by unattainable ideals as well, and it’s not an easy double standard to reckon with. “I’ve done numerous jobs where you’re told to lose weight and get to the gym,” he told British Vogue. “It doesn’t just happen to women, it happens to men all the time as well.”

Audiences and actors have called for more male nudity on television recently in an attempt to level the playing field of naked bodies onscreen. For example, Game of Thrones initially included significantly more scenes of female full-frontal nudity than of male full-frontal nudity, and one of its stars (Emilia Clarke) took the stance that if female characters were to be depicted naked onscreen then their male counterparts should be too. Years later, Thandie Newton mentioned that her male Westworld costars happened to be more squeamish about the prospect of appearing nude onscreen than her female costars.

Madden also spoke out about the unfair expectations placed on actors when they are asked to appear nude onscreen. “I find myself with actor friends—after we’ve done a kind of barely eating, working-out-twice-a-day, no-carbing thing for these scenes—looking at each other going: ‘We’re just feeding this same shit that we’re against.’” he said. One thing is clear: The assertion that anyone, regardless of gender, should look and behave a certain way, and in this particular case, that all men should be extremely fit, should by now be a thing of the past.

Related: Why Bodyguard’s Richard Madden Should Be a Movie Star, If Not James Bond