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Film she went "Bad" for: "Showgirls"
Why it was shocking: Best known as buttoned-up high school feminist Jesse Spano on the squeaky-clean Saturday morning series "Saved By the Bell," Berkley shocked everyone two years after the series ended by taking it all off for Paul Verhoeven's NC-17 opus "Showgirls." As Nomi Malone, a young drifter who scratches and claws her way through the ranks of Las Vegas strippers to win a coveted slot as a showgirl, the actress went 180-degrees out from her most famous role by baring her breasts and engaging in graphic sex scenes, including a now-infamous pool-coitus bit that saw her thrashing wildly atop Kyle MacLachlan. Unfortunately for Berkley, the attempt to shed her good-girl image proved disastrous for her career, with critics savagely deriding her over-the-top performance. To her credit, Berkley continued trudging along in the ugly aftermath, putting in better-than-expected supporting performances in a string of films including Oliver Stone's "Any Given Sunday," Woody Allen's "Curse of the Jade Scorpion" and the underrated 2002 indie "Rodger Dodger." Unfortunately, a disaster on the level of a "Showgirls" tends to be merciless for those left floundering in its wake, and despite her best efforts, Berkley never managed to shake the career baggage left by her most infamous role.
- Chris Eggertsen