Did Barry Keoghan Use A Body Double For Saltburn’s Nude Scenes? He Opens Up

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Written By Maya Cantina

Spoilers for Saltburn can be found throughout this story, including in the intro. If you haven’t caught the movie yet, don’t say I didn’t warn you! 

There are several scenes in Saltburn that have really been talked about since the movie’s release. One of these is Jacob Elordi and Barry Keoghan’s big bathtub scene. Another features Keoghan’s character Oliver Quick masturbating on top of a grave. The final scene features the same character dancing his way through the large estate completely in the nude. If you’ve been wondering if the actor actually dropped trou to complete the scene – which also features a dancing montage – wonder no longer. That’s 100% him in the film. 

And actually, it wasn’t even the nudity in the scene that was the hardest part for Keoghan.

Director Emerald Fennell Says The Nude Scene Was In Saltburn From The First Draft Of The Script

Well before Saltburn hit the 2023 movies schedule, Emerald Fennell was thinking about how she would close out her latest film. While certain moments in her movie may have occurred thanks to suggestions from the actors about their characters, the viral ending of the film was always there from the first draft. In fact, Fennell told Polygon the scene was so important to her vision of the movie from very early on.

The movie always ended with Oliver walking naked through the house. It’s an act of desecration. It’s also an act of territory, taking on ownership, but it’s solitary.

The moment is also nodded at earlier in the movie when Felix, Venetia and Farleigh all lose their clothing for some suntanning in a field and tell Oliver it’s house rules he must too. They are surprised when the seemingly shy and quiet character has more to assets to offer than they anticipated, foreshadowing what the audience sees in the final scene. The second time, he’s alone, having chosen Saltburn itself over any people and relationships.

The final scene is also a callback to Oliver’s arrival at the estate, when Felix eagerly shows him myriad rooms that make up the whole. Fennell says she deliberately set the final scene up to be the exact opposite of Felix’s walkthrough, with Oliver taking the opposite path. Throwing nudity into that scene was also a deliberate choice.

The nudity is an act of ownership. It wouldn’t be the same if he’s just walking through the house in his pajamas. It’s that he’s walking through his house. It’s his fucking house, and he can do whatever he wants to with it. And that’s what makes it thrilling and beautiful.

Which doesn’t necessarily mean that Barry Keoghan needed to bare himself for that scene, as many other actors have made different choices. Lena Headey used a body double for Cersei’s infamous walk of shame on Game of Thrones. Tom Mison also had a body double for his nude scene in the Watchman TV series, in which he played Doctor Manhattan. Yet the actor says he chose to go for it in Saltburn, noting there was a totally separate part of filming the viral moment he was actually stressed about.

(Image credit: MGM)

What Was Actually Toughest About The Nude Scene For Barry Keoghan To Film

Getting naked was no big deal for Barry Keoghan, but when asked about his nude scene, the actor noted that it was how Fennell wanted to shoot the scene that was most intimidating. When Oliver and Felix first work their way through the estate they are walking frenetically and Oliver is soaking in all of the details (fully clothed I might add). At the end of the movie when the Catton family is all gone, Felix throws on “Murder on the Dancefloor,” and then proceeds to trek his way through the house naked while the song is playing, grooving to the beat the whole time.

Without sounding cocky, it wasn’t the nudity. That was fine for me. It was the dancing. I don’t really dance, I don’t know how to move my hips certain ways and your body has to go in certain directions and stuff like that. The dancing scared me. So once I was comfy with the dance, the rest was easy.

Fennell had previously said the scene had been written as a walk, but noted once the cast and crew were on set that it lacked the “feeling of triumph and joy, elation and post-coital success” that the director wanted. So she asked the actor to dance, and the rest is history. 

While he was uncomfortable with the dancing portion, there was one point that played in his favor. He’d already filmed those two aforementioned and much-talked about scenes with drinking the bathwater Felix had just sat in and later masturbating on a grave. He revealed elsewhere in the Vanity Fair interview that once you’ve “fucked a grave” pretty much everything else is arbitrary; it’s just about getting comfortable.

I’d already fucked a grave and I’ve already done the thing in the bathtub and I’d quite broken a lot of [taboos] already. The walking around nude was the most relatable there was—not that I relate to any of that prior stuff.

While not necessarily written to be a sexually explicit streaming movie, the film will certainly be NSFW when it transitions from the big screen to Amazon Prime on December 22. While it’s probably not one for those with an Amazon Prime subscription to throw on with family around, it’s doubtless going to be one of the best movies Amazon has to offer, so be sure to tune in. 

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