Hollywood has a rich history of trying to find that balance between the erotic and the borderline homicidal. The femme fatale archetype has been a popular trope in moviemaking ever since we’ve been able to write stories and it’s not always an easy choice for an actress to decide whether or not she wants to go through with that. The roles are often very demanding and borderline demeaning if done wrong. It’s not very hard to imagine that many actresses would rather not take the risk and just turn the role down.
No matter the reason for their initial reservations though, there have been many of occasions where the actresses decided to go through with it and the result was cinematic history. Let’s take a look at some of these iconic risqué roles.
Lynda Carter – Wonder Woman
Lynda was the ultimate femme fatale for decades and somehow managed to make the Wonder Woman outfit even more iconic. Especially at that time, the outfit was a big risk to take as the audiences could have easily rejected it.
Carrie Fischer – Return of the Jedi
You can imagine why Carrie Fischer wasn’t too fond of the brass bikini she had to wear in Return of the Jedi first, but all in all she decided to go for it because it allowed her to choke Jabba the Hutt with a chain. The outfit instantly solidified her status as a nerd sex symbol.
Michelle Pfeiffer – Batman Returns
Michelle wasn’t exactly new to being sexy in roles, but no one had ever asked her to play the part in a skintight leather suit in a Tim Burton superhero movie before. Michelle did great though, and is still one of the better Catwomen to ever grace the silver screen.
Pamela Anderson – Baywatch
We can pretend that David Hasselhoff was the main star of Baywatch, but nothing will ever be as iconic as Pamela Anderson running to someone’s rescue in that all-too-famous red one-piece bathing suit.
Kim Cattrall – Sex and the City
Kim had to play the sexually liberal one of the group in Sex and the City and boy did she go for it. Samantha was quickly established as a sex symbol and called herself a “trisexual” because she felt like she had to try everything at least once.
Sharon Stone – Basic Instinct
Sharon’s story is a bit different than the rest as she didn’t agree to that famous scene that was in Basic Instinct. Paul Verhoeven put it in anyway, so despite having convinced Sharon to do the scene, she thought it’d look different in the movie.
Olivia Newton-John – Grease
When Olivia Newton-John had her make-over in Grease, it showed the world that the shy girl can also become a bombshell pretty much overnight. It turned Olivia into a sex symbol for pretty much the rest of her life.