Bump Ahead: Actresses Who Were Secretly Pregnant While Filming

By Jake SchroederLast Updated Apr 18, 2020 9:47:14 PM ET
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While it is illegal for a woman to lose her job because of pregnancy, there are definitely some tasks that are harder to do while pregnant. This is especially the case for actresses in Hollywood who can’t let pregnancy limit their careers.

Some producers have figured out ways to let a baby bump shine with a cover story, like when Phoebe on Friends was the surrogate for her half-brother's triplets. Others have used a number of clever ways to try and hide a pregnancy.

Scarlett Johansson in Avengers: Age of Ultron

When Scarlett Johansson told the production team about her first pregnancy, they knew they’d have to make it work since her character, Black Widow, is central to the plot and known for her catsuits. Many of her scenes were moved up in the production calendar.

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Close-up framing helped for some scenes, while CGI technology and a team of stunt doubles came in very handy for the action sequences. It did make for confusing times fir the rest of the cast, however. According to co-star Chris Evans, "You walk by, ‘Hey Scarlett, oh. Weird. You’re not Scarlett at all. Sorry.’ A lot of fake Scarletts around."

Marcia Cross on Desperate Housewives

During season three of Desperate Housewives, Marcia Cross was not only pregnant but also put on bed rest. Desperate (pun not intended) to keep filming, the production crew relocated to her home and restaged it to match Bree Van de Kamp's house on Wisteria Lane.

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Utilizing loose clothing and creative framing, the film crew was able to keep from revealing Marcia's baby bump in most scenes. However, a quick eye can catch a glimpse here and there throughout the season. Ironically, Bree ended up pregnant in season four, which makes you wonder why the writers didn't move up that storyline.

Kerry Washington on Scandal

Not only did the production team have to get creative in the props department to hide Kerry Washington's pregnancy on Scandal, but there was also the issue of her wardrobe. As a political fixer, her character Olivia Pope wears high-end power fashion.

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This presented a problem because as Washington explained, "There's nothing high-end for professional women who are pregnant, so for the show, we wind up just buying the same clothes. We will cut out the front of Armani trousers and put in a pregnancy panel. That's what we do for everything."

Courteney Cox on Friends

After Friends established in a heartbreaking episode that Monica and Chandler struggled with infertility and were now in the process of adopting, the show had to hide Courteney Cox's pregnancy with daughter Coco.

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Unfortunately, they relied too much on baggy clothes instead of props and staging, so Courteney's pregnancy was obvious in every full-body scene during the show’s last season. One of the most noticeable bump shots is when she's sitting with the gang on her couch wearing that black slinky dress. There was just no hiding it at that moment.

Claire Danes on Homeland

Claire Danes was only in her first trimester when she started filming season two of Homeland, so she opted to keep her pregnancy secret from her co-workers and crew. It was mostly an easy task except for the overwhelming exhaustion she was battling.

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She kept dozing off between takes, with one time in particular being quite embarrassing. According to Danes, "I face-planted onto this crocheted bag in between takes. It was time for my close up and I sit up, and I have this crocheted indentation on the side of my face... I halted production for a good half an hour."

Kerri Russell on The Americans

When The American co-stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys were expecting their first child in real life, show developers opted against incorporating the pregnancy into the show. Instead, they used a combination of computer editing and traditional cover-up to mask Kerri's belly.

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"Cuts of her with groceries, cuts of her with a laundry basket, cuts of her with more groceries. Coats, lots of coats!" Joel Fields explained. "If you do two or three CGI shots per episode, we hope the audience will think less about the coat, the laundry basket."

Sarah Jessica Parker on Sex and the City

Writers felt Carrie Bradshaw wasn't at a point to settle down and have a baby during season five of Sex and the City, so they opted to have Sarah Jessica Parker hide her pregnancy instead. Costume designers worked hard to put Parker in loose and flowy outfits, but this wasn't really in line with the character's fashion-forward style.

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Their tactics didn't always work, and the season was cut down to only eight episodes before returning for a sixth and final season the following year. Ultimately, some fans had hoped Carrie would have started a family.

Jane Krakowski on 30 Rock

Since, in the words of executive producer Robert Carlock, "No child should have Jenna Maroney for a mother," Jane Krakowski's pregnancy had to be covered up on 30 Rock. This led to some fun and literal cover-up opportunities in the form of wardrobe choices. One example was when Jenna sported a furry dog costume to hide her growing baby bump.

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When show creator and co-star Tina Fey became pregnant a second time, they were fortunately between seasons, and NBC accommodated a midseason premiere so the show could film around Fey's pregnancy.

January Jones on Mad Men

Since it wasn't in the cards for Betty Draper to have another child on Mad Men, the writing team and director decided to have the character develop a growth on her thyroid and subsequently gain weight. January Jones was required to wear a fat suit in addition to being pregnant to sell the story.

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Upon returning from maternity leave, Jones' character was said to have returned from a treatment center and was back to her normal size. Unfortunately, the show faced serious backlash from fans for the creative decision and for limiting her role throughout the season.

Julie Bowen on Modern Family

Julie Bowen and the creators of Modern Family deserve major props for not letting a pregnancy hold them back from developing the iconic role of Claire Dunphey. Julie was pregnant with twins when she auditioned for the role and was so convincing that she landed the part even though the pilot would be filmed when she was nearly nine months along.

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She was mostly shot hiding behind pillows, laundry baskets or cereal boxes and later confessed, "I was giving birth, I was in labor when Steve called to tell me the show was picked up."

Amy Poehler on Parks and Recreation

When Amy Poehler became pregnant halfway through the second season of Parks and Recreation, the producers decided to go right into production on the next season instead of working the pregnancy into the storyline. They managed to bank six episodes for season three by dressing Poehler in looser blazers and workwear.

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Ironically, NBC delayed the third season for several months to promote Outsourced in the station’s two-hour Thursday night comedy block. Working around Poehler's pregnancies was nothing new since producers Greg Daniels and Michael Schur chose to give up a coveted post-Super Bowl premiere to accommodate Amy's first pregnancy.

Blake Lively in The Shallows

As a self-proclaimed breeder, many people were amazed how quickly Blake Lively got bikini-ready for staring in The Shallows just eight months after giving birth to her first child. Little did they realize she was already pregnant with Baby Number Two by the end of filming.

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Fortunately, the bulk of the physically intense scenes were shot first in South Wales, Australia before Blake was pregnant again. In fact, the team didn't even hire a stunt double until the last two weeks of filming when it became necessary for Blake and her baby's health.

Debra Messing in Will & Grace

When all else fails, throw in the towel! That's quite literally how Debra Messing's pregnancy during the sixth season of Will & Grace was handled. She was shot clutching towels in front of her or standing behind large tables that didn't offer much by way of camouflage.

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The costume department did try to dress her in looser styles, but these felt out of character to fans. Eventually, the writers finally gave Messing a five-episode hiatus, which many fans felt should have come sooner if they really wanted to hide the pregnancy.

Alyson Hannigan on How I Met Your Mother

Writers didn't think it was the right time for characters Lily and Marshall to have a baby when Alyson Hannigan was pregnant the first time around. For most of the season, the show used set hacks and oversized purses to hide her belly, but they did have fun in one particular episode.

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In the season four episode, "The Possimpible," Lily challenged her previous record of eating 29 hot dogs in eight minutes by downing 33 for a cheering crowd at MacLaren's. Upon finishing the last bite, she stood up to show off an impressive "food baby" belly.

Cobie Smulders on How I Met Your Mother

Ironically, Cobie Smulders was pregnant at the same time as co-star Alyson Hannigan. Since her character, Robin, was so against having kids, the crew had to work diligently to camouflage her pregnancy as well.

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It’s hard enough for a production team to hide one pregnancy, but imagine two. It became its own level of comedy as the purses get bigger and bigger as the season progressed. The writers did have fun with Robin, jokingly declaring she was pregnant to Barney and Ted when she was throwing up from food poisoning in "Right Place Right Time."

Anne Hathaway in Colossal

When director Nacho Vigalondo learned Anne Hathaway was pregnant, he was concerned she would back out of her role in Colossal. Instead, she was still excited about her role as an alcoholic writer. Vigalondo reasoned, "Your character's drunk, you’re bloated, it’s perfect!"

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By the end of filming, Hathaway was pretty far along in her pregnancy and had to resort to wearing a lot of baggy sweaters to hide her large baby bump. While the science fiction black comedy monster flick was met with mixed reviews, the crew were some of the best at concealing a pregnancy.

Zooey Deschanel on New Girl

Like Parks and Recreation, The New Girl cast and crew worked a continuous production schedule to wrap up the first four episodes of season five before Zooey Deschanel took her maternity leave.

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While already noticeably pregnant in the season premiere, the episode had Jess break several bones while falling down a flight of stairs. This kept her in a bed under a blanket or riding around on a scooter for the rest of the episode. Jess then headed to jury duty, where she was hidden in a booth before being sequestered and temporarily replaced in the loft by Megan Fox.

Kate Winslet in Divergent

Kate Winslet has handled three pregnancies while in Hollywood, but her last was already five months along when she appeared in Divergent as Jeanine Matthews. Kate spent the film dressed in dark colors and holding a folder or tablet strategically in front of her stomach.

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A stunt double was brought in for action scenes, although she did return after the birth of her son, Bear, to reshoot some of her own stunts. Because nearly all of her scenes were filmed in the exact same way, it made efforts to conceal her pregnancy more noticeable.

Madonna in Evita

Surprising to many is that Madonna was pregnant with her daughter, Lourdes, for the entire filming of Evita. As her bump grew, producers had to utilize creative film angles, baggy clothes and thoughtful prop choices to successfully hide it.

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They ended up cutting several planned scenes that were deemed too risky for her to perform out of fear she might accidentally fall and harm herself or the baby. An astute observer might be able to spot some shots of Madonna's growing belly on a rewatch, but her Golden Globe award-winning performance might be distraction enough.

Reese Witherspoon in Vanity Fair

After spending 10 years to get to the point of filming, the 18-week pre-production schedule of Vanity Fair had to suddenly be sped up to accommodate Reese Witherspoon's pregnancy with future son Deacon. Fortunately, at five months pregnant, the voluminous period dresses of the 19th century were enough to hide her changing figure.

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The director also made use of low-lit sets and staged her behind co-stars and furniture to conceal her bump. Witherspoon said of filming, "We’ve had a couple of scenes where my stomach was peeking out a bit, but we’ve found solutions."

Penelope Cruz in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

One of the most creative ways filmmakers have hidden a pregnancy was with Penelope Cruz. When Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides' director Rob Marshall found out Cruz was pregnant, he called in her near-identical sister, Monica.

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"I did a couple of months of training and did what I was able to do, but I couldn’t do everything, just what was safe. Monica came at the end to do some scenes. She’s a dancer and very good with a sword because she’s done a film herself," Cruz explained regarding filming.

Emily Blunt in Into the Woods and Girl on the Train

Emily Blunt has not once but twice starred in films while pregnant. Because her character in Into The Woods desperately wanted to have a child but was unable to, it was important to keep Blunt's pregnancy fully concealed. The costume department was able to use period clothing to keep her bump hidden, and co-star James Corden was positioned in front of her for many scenes.

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Two years later, Blunt found herself pregnant again when filming Girl on the Train. Fortunately, she was able to use first-trimester woes to help her portrayal of a devastated alcoholic.

Helena Bonham Carter in Sweeney Todd

Helena Bonham Carter didn't have to worry about being recast if she became pregnant before filming Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street because the director was her baby daddy. After two years of infertility struggles, Bonham Carter and Tim Burton were actually considering in vitro fertilization when she became pregnant with their second child.

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Thick fabrics, kitchen props and good camera angles helped conceal her bump with the only noticeable change occurring in her chest. Based on her larger bustline, most of the beginning of the film was shot later in production.

Anna Paquin on True Blood

When Anna Paquin was uncharacteristically covered up in season five of True Blood, fans knew something was up with the actress who was never afraid to bare all on the HBO series. Turns out the actress was using pajamas, blankets and pillows to hide her six-month pregnant belly full of twins.

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Co-star Todd Lowe revealed about filming, "I know that her stunt double has had more work than needed before. I know that and they’re pretty creative with staging and costuming." Paquin and husband-slash-co-star Stephen Moyer welcomed their children shortly before returning to film season six.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus on Seinfeld

When Julia Louis-Dreyfus told Jerry Seinfeld that she was pregnant while working on the third season of the show, he suggested they have Elaine get fat. Julia admits to bursting into tears because she was offended and, you know, pregnancy hormones didn't help either.

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Years later, she admitted that the idea was hilarious and ran with a similar joke during her 2005 appearance on Arrested Development. When she was pregnant again for season eight, Seinfeld didn't really try to hide her pregnancy but never mentioned it or her weight gain.

Kristen Bell on House of Lies

When Kristen Bell was seven months pregnant during season two of House of Lies, her character, Jeannie van der Hooven, was dealing with a leaked sex tape.

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The actress had to actually film the scene (that was CGI edited) with her TV love interest, Adam Brody, who "affectionally referred to our sex scenes as threesomes, because my belly was right on top of him," Bell told Conan. Always in good spirits, Bell further joked, "Now I can forever look at my daughter and go, ‘Oh, you were present for that.’"

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Isla Fisher in Burke and Hare

Ever the actress, Isla Fisher used her skills to hide her pregnancy from the entire cast and crew of Burke and Hare. Her period-costume included a full corset that she only pretended to wear while she instead used a push-up bra to fool everyone including director John Landis.

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At only three-months along, it wasn't too hard to pull off, and co-star Simon Pegg admitted, "I didn't know what was going on. She didn't look pregnant until the last minute. I saw her a couple of months later and she was like a balloon. None of us knew ... She hid it well."

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Jane Leeves on Frasier

Unlike Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jane Leeves was game for playing the fat card when she was pregnant during the eighth season of Frasier. Daphne develops a compulsive-eating disorder to cope with her fear of being unable to live up to Niles's lofty expectations.

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She eventually went to a "spa for fat people" for a few episodes and returned after losing the 60 pounds she had gained. In the episode "It Takes Two to Tangle," which was filmed during Leeves's maternity leave, Niles reported that Daphne had lost 9 pounds, 12 ounces in a nod to her baby's birth weight.

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Christian Serratos on The Walking Dead

When Christian Serratos joined The Walking Dead as Rosita, her character frequently showed off her midriff. In late season six through seven, tight clothes were exchanged for baggy shirts, and she was frequently filmed in a crouched position or carrying a big gun to hide her growing belly.

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These were all tactics the show used to hide two other pregnancies: Sonequa Martin-Green’s, who plays Sasha, and Alanna Masterson’s, who plays Tara Chambler. Masterson’s character actually took a hiatus from the twelfth episode of season six to the sixth episode of the seventh season while she was on maternity leave.

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Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman

When watching Wonder Woman and seeing Gal Gadot's stunning figure, it is shocking to learn she was five months pregnant for some of those scenes. While skillful camera work was enough for much of the movie, later reshoots required some CGI magic.

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The costume department actually cut a piece out of the belly of her costume to attach green fabric over it to make post-production editing of her bump easier. Gadot joked, "On close-up, I looked very much like Wonder Woman. On wide shots, I looked very funny, like Wonder Woman pregnant with Kermit the Frog."

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