A professional body double covered for Luke Wilson's out-of-shape rear end during the filming of My Super Ex-Girlfriend. "Physically it was kind of a tough year," says Wilson. "I thought it might be a good time to sit on the bench for that scene and let some other kind of more athletic guy take over there." The producers of You, Me and Dupree also called in a butt double to cover for Luke's brother, Owen Wilson. How much does it cost to hire a professional derrière?
Around $500 for an eight-hour day, but it costs extra for naked cheeks. Productions that operate under Screen Actors Guild guidelines have standard rates for on-camera talent: A full-body double earns $795 for a full shift, while parts models typically get a rate of $445.30. (A model who's willing to do a nude scene might net double pay.) Wages for nonunion productions tend to be in the same ballpark as the guild rates, but an elite butt double like Anita Hart may get extra money.
Sometimes an actress will ask for a body double because she's not comfortable flashing her parts on camera. Mandy Moore requested a professional booty during the filming of Chasing Liberty, as did Sarah Michelle Gellar when she starred in Scooby Doo. But most of the time, it's the director or the producers who call in the ringers: "The director made that decision not to use my butt," says Owen Wilson. "I don't know how to interpret that."
Producers often hire body doubles to save money on insurance. It might cost a huge amount in risk coverage to have a high-priced star dangle her leg off a ladder, for example. Instead, the production company could pay a few hundred bucks for a much less valuable actor to put her leg in harm's way.
When a movie needs a parts double for a "celebrity insert," the director or casting agent submits a notice to a set of casting services known as the "breakdowns." Talent agents can supply doubles for very specific age ranges and body sizes, or for skin tones like "peaches and cream," "warm vellum," and "golden caramel." They can also send talent with special skills. For example, a commercial director might want a hand model with "tabletop skills"—someone who can pour a glass of beer at a constant rate or cut a tomato into perfectly even slices.
Agencies submit "comp cards" or "zed cards" for prospective models. For body doubles, these would include a full-body shot plus close-ups of the model's best "ancillary parts." A director might choose a double from these pictures, or she might call in a few models for in-person auditions.
In some cases, the celebrities get to make the final selection. Mandy Moore picked her butt double from a book of pictures. So did Luke Wilson: "I found myself just kind of poring over them saying, 'I like that one, but it doesn't have quite the pizzazz I want for this scene.' " Domino's Keira Knightley got to see her potential butt doubles in the flesh before she made her pick: "They all had very nice bottoms and I chose one."
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Explainer thanks Linda Teglovic of Body Parts Models. Thanks also to reader Adrienne Del Genio for asking the question.