"Captain, lieutenant, can you please help Natalie with her little habit of moving behind chest-concealing objects every time I turn to talk to her directly?"
When an actress gets pregnant, this not-usually-planned-for event is usually written into the show as the character getting pregnant. However, sometimes the writers decide not to include the pregnancy, perhaps because there's just no way in hell it can be written in convincingly, it doesn't fit with the storyline, or perhaps it's just that Status Quo Is God
. In this case, the camera crews commonly resort to various tricks, all of which are almost always
ineffective, to avoid the actress' bump being noticed, such as:
- The actress suddenly wears lots of loose, baggy clothing and heavy overcoats to conceal the hump. This can be very conspicuous if the character normally wears form-fitting clothing.
- The use of Scenery Censors: for example, she carries lots of paper bags in front of her belly, or stands (as pictured above) behind chairs, countertops, or other objects that block the view of her below her midsection.
- She sits down a lot; in the late stages of pregnancy, this often entails some sort of blanket over herself to hide the bump. Such "supine shots" are filmed for prolonged periods, with no direct views of her ever actively getting up or sitting down.
- The cameramen just make sure to never get shots below their upper chest.
- The camera shoots her from far away if they need full body shots.
- She suddenly wears black. Lots and lots of black... without any evidence of a funeral or a Matrix in sight. note
- The excessive use of body-doubles for all revealing body-shots with the face conspicuously obscured — after which the camera will flash conveniently back to the actress with her face showing and body obscured. (Naturally, this sad trick only makes the attempt at deception more obvious).
- Worst of all, is the attempt of wearing high heels etc. to make her look more height-weight proportionate; this succeeds only in making her appear even more like "the Elephant in the Room" by towering over all else around her with her increased size. Even worse, when she walks, she typically becomes a lumbering hulk, lurching and teetering around on the heels like Frankenstein's Monster due to her increased height and decreased balance.
Alternatively, the character might just be written to put on a lot of weight, due to a sudden "eating binge" or whatever (see "Frasier" below). Note that this trope does not include cases where the actress' pregnancy is written into the show - that's Written-In Infirmity
. Nor should it be confused with a character hiding her pregnancy in-story, which is My Secret Pregnancy
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- The Big Steal took extra long to film because Robert Mitchum had a stint in jail for marijuana possession in the middle of production. His pregnant co-star, Jane Greer, is visibly thicker in the waist in the last scenes shot while Mitchum himself is thinner due to life on a prison farm.
- In the original British version of Death at a Funeral, Keeley Hawes underwent various stages of pregnancy throughout filming. The last scene in the film with her has her sit down on a sofa where her in-film (and real-life) husband is lying down, whereupon he quickly hides her belly by putting his legs across her lap.
- In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Helena Bonham-Carter filmed her earliest scene as Bellatrix Lestrange while pregnant, where her bump was very poorly hidden by a huge leather belt. It was so blatant that after watching the movie, you probably left the theater asking yourself, "Does Voldemort really have mad game with the bitches?"
- Bonham Carter was also pregnant during the filming of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, resulting in magical size-changing breasts over the course of the movie.
- In the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice, Susannah Harker (who played Jane Bingley) was pregnant with her first child during filming. However, the cut of the dresses and the period fashions made this much easier to obscure than in many other productions, not to mention the fact that a good portions of the scenes she's in involve her sitting down anyway.
- Claudia Black was very obviously pregnant by the time filming began on the movie Stargate Continuum, and there was no way to convincingly hide it even in the opening scene, where she's carrying a big sci-fi gun and wearing a loose camouflage fatigue jacket. Similarly to her role in Stargate SG-1 Season 9, she vanished (literally, due to Ba'al's temporal manipulations, then showed up again in the altered time line as the System Lord Qetesh, wearing a too-large dress and usually having the direct line of sight to her stomach blocked by different objects or shooting angles.
- Veronica Lake was pregnant at the start of the filming of Sullivan's Travels, but her character wasn't. Fortunately, as she was playing a hobo, she could convincingly wear loose, baggy clothes. The rest of the time, the greatest costume designer in Hollywood was hard at work making her look completely innocuous.
- The Swinging Cheerleaders a 70s exploitation comedy, averted this. Cheryl "Rainbeaux" Smith neglected to tell anybody involved with the production that she was five months pregnant. Never mind that her part called for several topless scenes, and that her character was a virgin.
- Penélope Cruz became pregnant during the filming of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, so her identical twin sister (also an actress) acted as her stand-in during some of the more action-heavy scenes.
- Averted in Fido. Carrie-Anne Moss's real life pregnancy was written into the film, where her character mentions being pregnant, and the husband commenting that he can't afford to pay for another funeral.
- In Legally Blonde 2, they filmed an introductory scene some time after the main shooting was completed. At that point Reese Witherspoon was obviously pregnant, so the scene consists of women sitting and talking, shot only from the chest up. It's pretty awkward and obvious.
- About midway through the film production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Evita, Madonna discovered that she was pregnant with her first child. The film directors went to great lengths to cover up the possibility of her "Eva Peron" getting pregnant, even if it meant removing some scenes of her being carried out of the church for fear she might slip.
- In the François Truffaut Movie About A Movie, Day for Night, they are filming a scene where the woman who is the secretary of one of the main characters, gets out of a pool to take a letter for him. Then they discover she's just barely pregnant, and by the time she comes back in six weeks for the main part of her scenes, she will be obviously several months pregnant. They have to figure out a way to cover the issue, but they can't simply have her seen as pregnant as it will complicate the story, the audience will think her boss knocked her up.
- Shirley Jones was pregnant during production of The Music Man and, it being the 1960's and she was unmarried, wanted to keep it a secret. So she worked with a very tight group of costumers to keep it hidden even from the rest of the production. By the end it had become an open secret, she even recalled after a kissing scene with Robert Preston he was very perplexed at the baby bump. In an interview, it is pointed out that if you look very closely during certain scenes, you can see the bump.
- Halle Berry's role as Storm in X-Men: Days of Future Past had to be rewritten following an unexpected pregnancy. Though they were able to finish shooting while Berry could still fit her costume (though only by a week or so), all of Storm's flight and hand-to-hand combat scenes had to be cut from the script. This is why her sole contribution to the final battle mostly consists of floating around and shooting lightning bolts before getting impaled by a Sentinel.
- It has been confirmed that Scarlett Johansson's baby bump will be edited out in post-production for The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Like the X-Men example above, the crew tried to shoot most of Black Widow's scenes early on to avoid having to use a Fake Shemp.
- Some of the above examples can be found here, an amusing list of suggestions for the crew on how to handle it.
- Emily Blunt was around 4-6 months pregnant throughout the shoot for Into the Woods, so there were many scenes of her lower section being hidden. Amazingly, Blunt's face doesn't look as full as most pregnant women's faces are, so it was hard to tell if she was at all.
- In But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes, Lorelei abandons her movie career at expectant motherhood, alluding to the example of a movie actress who was discovered to be pregnant halfway through filming, which got to the point where her scenes had to be filmed "showing nothing but her head sticking up over the top of a bush or looking out of a window."
- A rare in-universe example is featured in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. One of the "rules" that Oskar's grandparents made was to never have children, but his grandmother felt she was losing him, so she made a pregnancy happen anyway and hid it with baggy clothing and pillows. Still didn't stop him from leaving.
- Rebekah in the book Angel Seekers of the Samaria series until she was forced to try on her wedding dress.
Live Action TV
- In Annie Lennox's "Love Song For A Vampire," she was sitting down and wearing an Empire-style dress throughout.
- "Little Bird", released at the same time, has her in nothing but black. However, in this case it is subverted as Lennox is not only standing up at all times but is also often standing in profile to the camera, clearly showing the pregnancy.
- Lauryn Hill's "Doo Wop (That Thing)" mostly has her in slimming outfits. Plus, there's so much going on in the video (a pair of block parties, one from the 60's and one from the 90's, shown side-by-side) that you don't have time to notice.
- Averted by T-Boz from TLC in the video for "Tight to Death," her duet with then-husband Mack-10, where her pregnancy is proudly emphasized. A rather warming scene shows the hardcore rapper putting an ear to his wife's belly (it was only a year later that she divorced him amid threats of domestic violence, but it's still a nice video).
- In Madonna's video for "Music," she had to be shot from the front and almost always sitting down. She also commissioned a short action sequence from her favorite animation studio, to replace scenes she couldn't do. However, it was no secret that she was pregnant with her second child at the time, and it added a bit of subtext to the line "I want to dance with my baby".
- She was also pregnant while filming the video for "You Must Love Me", the bump was hidden by having her stand behind a piano.
- In Whitney Houston's video for her cover of "I Will Always Love You," she is shown sitting in a chair on a stage as she sings. Since it was a Video Full Of Film Clips from her movie The Bodyguard, this was easily done.
- That same pregnancy was proudly displayed in the video for "I'm Every Woman," as the song is a celebration of womanhood.
- Within Temptation has Sharon. The video for "Sinéad," where Sharon wears a heavy coat and is only shown from the chest up.
- Averted in "Someday" by Britney Spears which is basically a music video to celebrate her pregnancy.
- Averted in The Dixie Chicks' video for "Landslide", a Fleetwood Mac cover. Emily Robison was clearly pregnant and not hiding it during the video shoot.
- Atomic Kitten filmed the video for "It's OK" while Natasha Hamilton was five months pregnant. The video is a Beach Episode and Natasha is wearing a rather loose top throughout - while Jenny and Liz are in bikinis. Natasha is also lying or sitting down in a lot of her shots and is the one in the backseat for the car scenes (with the other two in the front concealing her).
- But averted for their next video "The Tide Is High (Get The Feeling)". Natasha was eight months pregnant at that point and no attempt is made to hide it. In fact, the dance moves the girls use were choreographed to accommodate the baby bump.
- Zig-Zagged by Beyoncé. She appeared at the 2011 MTV Awards wearing a loose-fitting gown and performed in a boxy pantsuit, but cryptically told the audience to "Feel the love growing inside me". At the end of her performance, she took off her jacket to reveal her baby bump to a standing ovation.
- Her video for "Countdown" appeared at first to be hiding her pregnancy with an abundance of shots from her front. And then she turned to the side and started rubbing her belly proudly.
- Faith Hill's pregnancy is barely visible in the video for her 1998 single "This Kiss".
- If you decide to romance Doc as the Jedi Knight in Star Wars: The Old Republic you'll have a chat about having kids. Since Jedi aren't supposed to have families he reckons you wouldn't have a problem hiding a pregnancy under all those robes and when it is born, he'll pretend it's a distant cousin.
- In the Backstory, Grandmaster Satele did this when she wound up pregnant (and gave the kid up for adoption). Meaning she's more than a bit of a hypocrite when it comes to the "no attachment, no families" doctrine.
- If you romance Aerie throughout "Baldurs Gate 2" and its expansion the end result is pregnancy while you are in still in the middle of adventuring. Rather smartly Aerie mentions that until the later stages it wont be visible under her long flowing robes. The reason why she decides to hide it from the rest of your party is that she has only recently managed to prove herself as competent in their eyes and does not want their pity or insistence that she needs to slow down.
- Christa, in The Walking Dead fits this trope. She attempts to hide her pregnancy from the group, probably fearing they'll kick her and Omid out if Lee and Kenny found out. When Lee asks what she and Omid were arguing about, she tells him to mind his own business, when she vomits due to the rotting dog (no one else did, not even Clementine), she tries to pass it off as the extreme smell. Also, Lee and Vernon find a sonogram, and she says, with a tone of familiarity, "It's a sonogram." Eventually, Kenny finds out when he offers her whiskey. She takes the bottle, and looks down at her stomach. Kenny stares at her for a moment, and them she gulps down about half the bottle before handing it back to Kenny. It's implied by his facial expression, he was thinking, "Holy shit! She must be pregnant!"
- In Noob, Golgotha has a second avatar in the mage class exclusive to the webseries. The actrice playing her was pregnant during Season 3 and the main difference between Gologtha's usual warrior avatar and her mage is less chainmail and more baggy clothes.
- A milder case happend to Saphir in Season 5 before she got a Temporary Substitute (who was the long-term solution), when she was shown using an avatar looking just like Gaea in-game while shots of her player behind the computer showed only her face.