Let’s face it, the U.S. doesn’t like pregnant women that much. Low maternal mortality rates, no paid parental leave, expensive childcare — it’s not easy to be a pregnant woman and mother in this country.
Wealthy Hollywood actresses, however, might have an easier time having children. That doesn’t mean it’s been a walk in the park filming while pregnant. Here’s how some actresses managed to hide — or own — their preggo bellies on screen.
Lisa Kudrow – ‘Friends’
Actress Lisa Kudrow got preggo in the fourth season of Friends while playing the quirky Phoebe. Instead of having her hide her pregnant belly while filming, producers just made Kudrow’s character pregnant too!
Phoebe agreed to become a surrogate for her brother and his wife. So not Phoebe’s child by any means, but it gave Kudrow a way to film Friends and not have to worry about hiding her belly bump.
Rachel Bilson – ‘Hart of Dixie’
Best known for her work on The O.C., actress Rachel Bilson played the New York City doctor Zoe Hart on Hart of Dixie. Dr. Hart ends up in a town outside of Mobile, Alabama at a small time practice.
Bilson got pregnant while filming, leaving producers to wonder what to do with Dr. Hart.
Like Rauch and Kudrow, Bilson got her pregnancy worked into the show. Fortunately, the story line made a lot more sense: Dr. Hart has an unplanned pregnancy with her on-and-off boyfriend on the show, but ends up deciding to keep the child.
Alyson Hannigan – ‘How I Met Your Mother’
Actress Alyson Hannigan was preggo not once, but twice while playing preschool teacher/artist Lily in sitcom How I Met Your Mother. At the time of Hannigan’s second pregnancy, it coincided with her character’s pregnancy.
The first time didn’t, however, so producers had to get creative to hide Hannigan’s pregnant belly.
One of the times Hannigan’s full belly was shown but this was supposed to be the effect of a hot dog eating contest … (Very inaccurate but whatever.)
Scarlett Johansson – ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’
Actress Scarlett Johansson played a non-pregnant character while in the Marvel flick, Avengers: Age of Ultron. In order to accurately portray superhero Black Widow, Johansson had a total of three body doubles.
Considering Black Widow had to wear a tight bodysuit (as is mandatory for all superheroes), it might have been uncomfortable for the actress to wear during the extent of her pregnancy/shooting the movie.
Ellen Pompeo – ‘Grey’s Anatomy’
Actress Ellen Pompeo’s character Meredith Grey does get pregnant a couple times on the show and adopts a little girl as well. These pregnancies happened in earlier seasons of the show so didn’t align with Pompeo’s season six pregnancy.
Because Grey wasn’t planning on having more children in the Grey’s Anatomy script, producers found ways to hide her pregnancy: Close-up shots and continued “wearage” of those baggy doctor scrubs. Grey was also absent from the script while her character donated a liver to her dad.
Sarah Jessica Parker – ‘Sex and the City’
While portraying the shoe-loving columnist Carrie Bradshaw on beloved TV show Sex and the City, Parker had to hide a pregnancy of her own. This happened during the show’s fifth season. Its costume designer had a unique idea …
Although Bradshaw wasn’t interested in having children unlike some of her friends, she was quite the fashionista. Parker wore lots of baby doll dresses to hide her growing belly.
Also, season five was shortened from 13 to eight episodes. Now that’s a solution!
Candice Accola – ‘Vampire Diaries’
The actress that played Caroline — Candice Accola — revealed to producers of the Vampire Diaries she was pregnant during the filming of the supernatural TV show. In order to accommodate Accola’s pregnancy, they put together a really wild storyline …
Caroline was magically injected with baby twins after Alaric’s wife was killed at the altar. It doesn’t really make sense, but it isn’t completely unbelievable because it’s a supernatural show. So weird things like random babies can happen, I guess?
Sarah Drew – ‘Grey’s Anatomy’
Actress Sarah Drew was playing goodie-two-shoes doctor (or formerly goodie-two-shoes doctor) Dr. April Kepner on the TV drama Grey’s Anatomy when she got pregnant. Like Caroline, Dr. Kepner got pregnant to fit the actress’ lifestyle and limit the amount of belly-hiding.
In the show, Kepner lost one of her daughters to a brittle bone disorder. However, Drew gave birth to a healthy daughter in real life (phew!).
Literally 10 hours after Kepner’s birth scene was filmed, Drew herself gave birth in real life! Sometimes, coincidences are so strange …
Emily Blunt – ‘Into the Woods’
British actress Emily Blunt was pregnant while portraying the character of the baker’s wife opposite James Corden in the film adaptation of musical Into the Woods. Blunt’s character couldn’t have children, so it was imperative for producers to hide her growing pregnant belly.
The director of Into the Woods tried to get creative to go about this. For example, Corden’s blocking included standing in front of Blunt’s belly and Blunt wore multiple layers of clothing.
It might seem like a lot, but producers were trying to be true to the story line.
Courtney Cox – ‘Friends’
It had been established on the TV show Friends that Monica (Courtney Cox’s character) and Chandler couldn’t have kids but were going to adopt. (And they did.) So when Cox (center) got pregnant, Friends couldn’t work it into the storyline.
When Cox’s co-star Lisa Kudrow got pregnant, however, the shows’ producers wrote it into the script so Kudrow’s character Phoebe also got pregnant. This made it easier for Kudrow during filming.
Cox’s pregnancy wasn’t really hidden that well — Friends just ignored the actress’ sudden weight change.
Halle Berry – ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’
Actress Halle Berry revealed on The Queen Latifah Show in 2014 that she was three months preggo while filming X-Men: Days of Future Past. The pregnancy caused her to nearly “bust out” of her character Storm’s superhero costume.
Filming while pregnant proved to be a race against the clock for the star.
“I was three months pregnant,” she told Queen Latifah. “It was different. I had to shoot really fast.”
Anna Paquin – ‘True Blood’
Here’s another vampire show with an unplanned pregnancy (Vampire Diaries is the other on our list): True Blood star Anna Paquin became pregnant during season five but producers didn’t fit it into the script like Vampire Diaries did with character Caroline.
Like Olivia Pope in Scandal, True Blood’s producers tried to find ways to hide the actress’ baby bump.
So if you’re wondering why Paquin wore lots of PJs and usually had a blanket or pillow in her lap, that’s why …
Kate Winslet – ‘Divergent’
Former Titanic star Kate Winslet had to hide her pregnancy while filming Divergent. Interestingly, fans could barely notice Winslet’s baby bump. It’s fair to say the actress hid her pregnancy on screen quite successfully.
The 44 year old actress now has three children — Mia Honey Threapleton, Joe Mendes, and Bear Blaze Winslet. (Seriously, what is UP with celebrities naming their kids weird names?)
Gal Gadot – ‘Wonder Woman’
Like Johansson, Israeli actress Gal Gadot also had to hide a pregnancy while filming a superhero movie. This time, it was for Wonder Woman (ever heard of it?). Granted, Gadot wasn’t pregnant during the entire filming of the movie, so it wasn’t too difficult for producers to hide her belly.
Certain scenes had to be re-shot, however, because Gadot was six months pregnant.
The actress wanted to keep her pregnancy a secret on set, but morning sickness and raging migraines made that impossible.
Jessica Capshaw – ‘Grey’s Anatomy’
Actress Jessica Capshaw is one of several actresses that had to film the TV drama Grey’s Anatomy while pregnant. While actress Sarah Drew (who played April Kepner) worked her pregnancy into the story line, Capshaw’s character Arizona Robbins got written off the show.
Robbins went to work in Africa for three years during season seven, so the actress could relax during her maternity leave. Another plus: Grey’s Anatomy producers didn’t have to edit baby bumps out of every shot.
Bethany Joy Lenz – ‘One Tree Hill’
Here’s another example of producers writing a pregnancy into a show’s story line: Actress Bethany Joy Lenz told One Tree Hill producers that she was pregnant during the filming of the show. Thus, her character Haley became pregnant during season eight.
Sometimes, it might not come off as natural when an actress is acting as a pregnant person. Maybe they can’t emulate the preggo person experience just right. It wasn’t hard for Lenz to convince audiences of her character’s pregnancy however.
Amy Poehler – ‘Parks and Recreation’
Funny lady Amy Poehler had to hide a pregnancy of her own while playing the over eager public servant Leslie Knope on the TV show Parks and Recreation. In order to accommodate her pregnancy — and the fact that Knope wasn’t pregnant — the filming schedule was adapted.
Season three started filming early, which might have give Poehler a break while pregnant.
Knope often wears pantsuits, which also aided in hiding Poehler’s pregnancy while filming.
Melissa Fumero – ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’
I gotta say, this is probably the most creative way TV producers have worked a pregnancy into a story line. Actress Melissa Fumero’s Amy went undercover in a women’s prison and “pretended” to be pregnant.
The most hilarious part about this was that Fumero was actually pregnant in real life!
Fumero was able to not only use her pregnancy in a hilarious way to make a story line more interesting, but was able to film with ease.
Penelope Cruz – ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’
Unlike Drew’s pregnancy, actress Penelope Cruz’s preggo belly proved to be an issue for producers of the film Pirates of the Caribbean. Cruz’s pirate character had to wear tight clothing, do stunts, and be in full-body shots. Not the greatest for preggo actresses!
Producers called upon Mónica Cruz Sánchez — Cruz’s younger sister that looks a lot like her. Cruz Sánchez would serve as her sister’s split image body double in order to solve this pregnant belly problem. (Wouldn’t it be interesting to have a pregnant pirate character?)
Cobie Smulders – ‘How I Met Your Mother’
Another actress on sitcom How I Met Your Mother had to fit in her pregnancy on the show — Colbie Sumlders who played news reporter character Robin Scherbatsky. Her co-star Alyson Hannigan (Lily) was also pregnant at some point during filming.
Hannigan’s pregnancy could fit the plot at some point, but Sumlders’ didn’t. Producers tried to hide her pregnancy with loose clothing and big ol’ purses.
Turns out sometimes it’s hard to hide a big ol’ baby bump. It sticks out whether you like it or not!
Kerry Washington – ‘Scandal’
When actress Kerry Washington was portraying crisis manager Olivia Pope in TV show Scandal, the shows’ producers made some hilarious attempts to conceal Washington’s pregnancy.
There were huge coats, awkwardly placed props, weird camera shots — anything they could think of to cover that belly.
Washington expressed that filming was challenging because her “instrument was changing and evolving everyday.”
Jennifer Garner – ‘Alias’
Actress Jennifer was filming season five of TV program Alias when she became pregnant with her first child with fellow actor Ben Affleck. This proved to be a bit of a complicating factor in filming.
As a double agent in the very secret branch of the CIA (and likely a very fake branch of the actual CIA), Garner’s character Sydney Bristow had to do stunts.
The producers decided to write Garner’s pregnancy into the TV show. Thus, the issue of stunts could be avoided.
Zooey Deschanel – ‘New Girl’
Actress Zooey Deschanel has been forever typecast as a “manic pixie dream girl,” so she was given her own show in which to be quirky as heck on — New Girl.
Her character, school teacher Jess, wasn’t meant to be pregnant on the show so a weird story line was made to accommodate that:
A la OJ Simpson’s trial jury, she had to be sequestered for jury duty for six episodes in season five. She was also bedridden post-injury for part of that.
To fill in that quirky void, producers added the not so quirky actress Megan Fox temporarily to the cast line up.
Blake Lively – ‘The Shallows’
Formerly of TV show Gossip Girl, actress Blake Lively got pregnant with daughter Ines before filming the show The Shallows. Lively had just signed onto the show, so producers had to figure out a way to hide her belly while acting in The Shallows.
It proved to be a challenge for everyone on set as Lively often had to wear swimsuits as her character Nancy Adams. Adams traveled to a secluded beach to find solace after her mother passed. It wouldn’t make sense to have a non-preggo character to wear a muumuu at the beach, right?
Claire Danes – ‘Homeland’
Actress Claire Danes portrays CIA case officer Carrie Mathison in TV drama Homeland. Mathison wasn’t supposed to be pregnant in the series so producers had to find some ways to hide her bump. They had to stay true to the story line!
Danes’ baby bump started to get a little too obvious, however.
Thus, creative ways to hide the bump were needed. e.g. tight camera shots, body doubles, and CGI. (They really pulled out the big guns to hide this baby bump, no?)
Isla Fisher – ‘Burke and Hare’
Redhead actress Isla Fisher played Ginny Hawkins in the black comedy Burke and Hare while she was pregnant. However, no one knew Fisher was pregnant on set except for Fisher herself.
Fisher told her cast mates and staff that she’d been pregnant only after Burke and Hare had wrapped up filming.
They were SHOCKED to learn of the actress’ big secret! (Well, guess it wasn’t THAT big if they didn’t notice, right?)
Melissa Rauch – ‘The Big Bang Theory’
Actress Melissa Rauch played the quirky, nerdy, but very smart character Bernadette on sitcom The Big Bang Theory. Like in Kudrow’s case, Rauch’s real life pregnancy was worked into the show, but not in a quite seamless way.
Bernadette gives birth twice on The Big Bang Theory. The first time was written into the script but the second time wasn’t planned on the script writers’ end. Bernadette gets pregnant the same time Rauch was preggo, but the character had just been pregnant nine months earlier …
Julia Roberts – ‘Ocean’s Twelve’
Actress Julia Roberts was pregnant with her first child while filming Ocean’s Twelve. Like Melissa Fumero in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, producers came up with a clever but slightly confusing way to hide Roberts’ pregnancy during filming.
Roberts played Tess Ocean in the film. Ocean pretended to be the actress Julia Roberts in order to pull off a heist at one point in the movie. During this scene, Roberts was able to show off her preggo belly.
(I know it’s very meta — Julia Roberts playing Tess Ocean who’s pretending to be Julia Roberts …)
Leah Remini – ‘The King of Queens’
Actress Leah Remini played character Carrie Heffernan on the CBS sitcom The King of Queens. (I always thought the show title was referring to some sexist thing but it’s actually referring to the borough of Queens in New York City. Or maybe it’s referring to both?)
Anyways, Remini had to conceal her pregnancy while on the show. Producers did this by having Carrie Heffernan enter unemployment and then work from home. Everyone knows that when you’re stuck at home (as we are now) you’re more likely to don jumbo sized PJs. That’s exactly what Remini wore!
Daily Mail. “’I was busting out of the suit!’ Halle Berry opens up about being pregnant while shooting X-Men: Days Of Future Past.” April 3, 2014.
Dinunno, Gina. TV Guide. “Best and Worst Attempts at Hiding Pregnancies on TV.” May 8, 2009.
Gottlieb, Meryl and Wittmer, Carrie. Business Insider. “How 21 stars hid their pregnancies during shooting.” September 8, 2017.
Schulman, Noam. CTech. “Actresses Who Successfully Hid Their Pregnancy While Filming.” September 22, 2019.
This article was originally published on Finance101: Actresses who hid their pregnancies on screen.
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