Ask any actor in Hollywood who has had to simulate coitus for the camera, and they will probably tell you filming love a scene is more often than not an awkward time for everyone involved. While the end result might look glamorous and sexy, the truth is more often than not quite the opposite with behind-the-scenes stories of famous love scenes suggesting that the reality of filming such sequences are usually tedious affairs full of embarrassment. But there are some standout stories so strange, shocking, and extreme that you’ll in all likelihood never watch an on-screen love scene in quite the same way ever again.
On top of the cringe factor of watching two (or more) actors pretend to get it on in front of a set of cameras and a room set of people on hand to watch the whole thing, there’s also the accidents that can happen when physical choreography goes wrong, set-pieces aren’t adequately built to be banged on, or the stars involved have too much, (or not enough) chemistry for the whole thing to be watchable. And then there’s just the general weird, unexpected things that can happen when someone is told the camera is rolling and the sex scene is about to begin.
These are the most shocking behind-the-scenes stories of famous love scenes which delve into such danger zones and beyond.
Olivia Colman had a big, wet… sponge for Emma Stone in The Favourite
Yorgos Lanthimos’ satire “The Favourite” was an award season darling when it was released in 2018, and it won Olivia Colman — a beloved comedy icon within her native country of Britain — the Academy Award for Best Actress for her acerbic depiction of Queen Anne. And if for nothing else she deserved it for her “Monty Python”-esque approach to filming one of the movie’s love scenes opposite Emma Stone.
In an interview with Vogue, Colman explained the shocking prank she played on her co-star during the steamy scene in which Stone had to guide her fingers to a delicate location, “I put a damp sponge between my legs,” she said, adding that Stone’s reaction is visible in the film. “I thought it would be funny for Emma to find,” she shared. “You can see in her face the sudden look of horror.”
The Oscar winner further expanded on the anecdote during “The Graham Norton Show” where she expressed how Lanthimos made her feel safe while filming the sex scenes but that they were still “embarrassing” for her to do. As well as explaining that she borrowed the sponge from the makeup department, Colman made clear that the “big wet sponge” was intended as “a barrier” to keep Stone from finding anything that she “shouldn’t,” and bragged, “her face was a picture when she found it!”
The marriage behind a hot True Blood love scene
Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer famously fell in love and got married in 2010 after meeting on the set of horny HBO supernatural show “True Blood.” And while most of us might not have “watch your other half get sexy with a total babe”on our relationship bingo cards, it seemed to work for these two when Moyer directed Paquin’s love scene with total mega-babe Joe Manganiello for the Season 7 premiere of the show. As Moyer indicated to Entertainment Weekly (via E! News), the sex scene was apparently just another day in the office for the two lovebirds.
“There are moments where I’ll be watching on a monitor [and say], ‘Oh, Joe, just move your hand up towards Anna’s breast. Good. And can you move your right thumb just a little bit towards her nipple? Great,'” he said. “And then I’ll go, ‘Babe, babe, enjoy it.'” As fans of the show will joyfully recall, the resulting scene between Sookie and Bon Temps’ dreamiest werewolf was a sizzling triumph, so kudos to the couple for making it work. Although from the sounds of it, the two got a lot out of working on such scenes, with Moyer reassuring the magazine that these experiences were weirdly good for his marriage to Paquin, “it’s quite interesting for us as a couple because we’ve kind of gone to places where a lot of people don’t get to.” Hey, if it works, it works.
Margot Robbie got all cut up for Wolf of Wall Street
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that “Wolf of Wall Street” roleplay session you had planned might not be the best idea if Margot Robbie’s recollection of filming the movie’s notorious sex scene is anything to go by. According to the Oscar nominee, the infamous moment where Robbie-as-Naomi Lapaglia makes her capitalist fantasies come true on top of a mountain of money with sleazy stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) wasn’t “as glamorous as it sounds.” The actor told The Daily Beast that rolling around on all that cash came at a price. “I got a million paper cuts on my back from all that money,” she said, “When I got up off the bed, I turned around to get my robe and everyone gasped. I said, ‘What is it?’ And they said, ‘You look like you’ve been whipped a million times. Your back is covered in a thousand red scratches.'”
But fret not, because while using a stack of cash as a mattress didn’t end well for the actor during the shoot, Robbie entertained the possibility that “fake money is like paper” and that real money might be “a little softer.” So who knows, maybe your sleazy stockbroker roleplay is back on after all?
Regé-Jean Page was too big for the Bridgerton beds
Shonda Rhimes’ sexy adaptation of Julia Quinn’s “Bridgerton” series left many fans panting thanks to the show’s risqué love scenes set against the backdrop of Regency-era London. But ensuring for certain levels of historical accuracy also made the behind the scenes choreography of some sex scenes a little cramped for Regé-Jean Page, the dashing actor who depicted the dashing Duke of Hastings in the show and who is reportedly 5ft 11 inches tall, according to PopBuzz.
“Bridgerton” intimacy coordinator Lizzy Talbot told Vulture that the “Regency-sized beds” proved to be a problem for an actor as tall as Page and suggested the size disparity between him and these beds was “a real issue.”
“We had to work really hard to make sure that if there’s ever any rolling action — which happens quite a lot in these scenes — that they didn’t accidentally roll off the bed,” Talbot said. “These beds were not built for someone as tall as Reǵe, and he’d be hanging off the bed.” The potential to roll off a tiny bed while filming a sex scene wasn’t the only embarrassing part of filming those “Bridgerton” love scenes for Page, who told “The Graham Norton Show” that his family group chat had to add “flashing red light emojis” to signal the raunchier episodes that no parent or sibling needs to see. Still, at least he didn’t have to use any accidental injury emojis for such scenes too.
The Tudors' Henry Cavill needed to chill out
Like “Bridgerton,” British period drama “The Tudors” delivered its historical narrative alongside some hefty scoops of sex. Evidently, the role of provocative playboy Charles Brandon also presented actor Henry Cavill with his first love scene experiences. By all accounts, it certainly proved to be a learning curve for the actor who found out the hard way that filming love scenes can come with some unexpected surprises.
Speaking to Men’s Fitness (via Us Weekly), Cavill recalled the time during the show that he got “involuntarily aroused” during the filming of a love scene. “A girl had to be on top of me, she had spectacular breasts, and I hadn’t rearranged my — stuff into a harmless position,” he said. “She’s basically rubbing herself all over me.” The result was a natural physical reaction which Cavill called “unacceptable” and “very embarrassing.” Something that he apologised “profusely” to his scene partner for.
The end result of Cavill’s love scenes on “The Tudors” might be staggeringly hot, but as the “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” star divulged to the publication, the reality is anything but. “It’s actually acutely uncomfortable being naked in a roomful of people,” he said. “The very last thing it is is sexy.”
Gucci Mane got some shuteye during his Spring Breakers sex scene
Evidently, not everyone finds the filming of love scenes to be quite as exciting as Henry Cavill, as edgy indie filmmaker Harmony Korine found while filming a “Spring Breakers” love scene with Gucci Mane. The director told Vulture that the scene was one of the last he had left to shoot for the movie, twenty hours into the final day of shooting. What they didn’t anticipate was that Mane, a rapper renowned for songs like “Kush Is My Cologne,” would be “basically catatonic” from the amount of herbal delights he’d enjoyed with his entourage prior to shooting the scene.
“We’re shooting the sequence, and … I start to hear snores,” Korine said, “He had literally passed out! … I’d never in my life filmed a sex scene where the dude was sleeping.” The director confirmed that this is the take that made it into the movie, and the general chilled vibe of the love scene definitely works for the character.
When Vulture asked Mane about this anecdote, he confirmed that he was “knocked out” during the making of that scene because he was exhausted from filming and performing at a concert all in the same day. “I was extremely tired because Harmony would work for almost 48 hours straight, I think,” he said. “Even though Harmony is a close friend and a great director, he’s a hard boss.”
Kate Winslet fought for her 'bit of belly' in Mare of Easttown
Let’s face it, it’s rare that the average human body receives a realistic depiction on screen, and it was exactly this that Kate Winslet fought hard to protect in the final cut of a love scene from “Mare of Easttown.” In the partially clothed interaction between her difficult detective character Mare Sheehan and Guy Pearce’s charismatic writing professor Richard Ryan, Winslet wanted her stomach to remain an integral part of the scene. She told The New York Times that director Craig Zobel had plans to do away with a shot showing “a bulgy bit of belly,” to which she responded, “Don’t you dare.”
Winslet expressed to the Times that it was important for her to present her character in a way that would have fans asking, “Oh my God, how can she let herself look so unglamorous?” Not only was this important to Winslet as a “middle aged woman,” it also made sense for who Mare is, with the actor describing the character as being “a fully functioning, flawed woman with a body and a face that moves in a way that is synonymous with her age and her life and where she comes from.” She added, “I think we’re starved of that a bit.” As the majority of people can attest, most real life love scenes also involve bulgy bits of belly and other such bodily ‘imperfections.’ So why not show them on screen, too?
The Masters of Sex love scene that made Michael Sheen sick
Following the fascinating true story of two pioneering researchers into the science of human sexuality, “Masters of Sex” explored more than its fair share of sexuality on screen and in the most slick, interesting ways imaginable. But the behind-the-scenes story of the show’s first love scene between stars Lizzy Caplan and Michael Sheen is a difficult one to stomach. During an appearance on “Conan” in 2014, Caplan confessed to experiencing nerves while shooting the scene opposite Sheen, whom she considered a friend at the time. However, her shakiness was put at ease once they started getting physical with each other.
“I grab his hand and I notice that his hands are shaking and a little clammy,” she recalled to Conan O’Brien. “And he looks bad and nervous and shaky and this is kind of making me feel better.” However, once they completed the scene, Caplan realised that Sheen wasn’t exactly shaking in solidarity with her nerves. “They yell cut and he immediately walks over to a garbage can and throws up.” Sheen had apparently fallen foul of some food poisoning, but at the time Caplan simply assumed “it was a direct cause and effect situation” and said, “My whole self-confidence plummeted to the ground and I realized that I’m a monster and anybody who touches me will immediately start vomiting and that’s just the way it’s going to be.” If only there were some sexual anthropologists on hand to dissect that one.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse had to do it in front of his mom for Superbad
If you think Lizzie Caplan had it bad, then spare a thought for Christopher Mintz-Plasse who might just take the trophy for most embarrassing behind-the-love-scenes story. The actor was not yet 18 years old when he played nerdy horndog McLovin in “Superbad,” so in order to film the now iconic moment wherein McLovin finally seals the deal with a gal pal, Mintz-Plasse was required to have some parental guidance on set for scenes that nobody would realistically want their mom to see.
“Because I was 17, for legal reasons my mother had to be on the set,” he told The Guardian in 2009, “It was real awkward but it worked out OK because when I watched the movie with her the sex scene wasn’t awkward because she’d been right there when it happened. Afterwards we didn’t talk about it; we still don’t speak about that moment.” Having your mother around to hear a line like, “Oh my god, it’s in!” truly sets a certain gold standard for cringe, but on the upside, Mintz-Plasse humiliating himself for our entertainment also set another gold standard for comedy. So kudos, brave sir. Kudos.
The "agony" of Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart's love scene
In 2011, the love story between clumsy teenage girl Bella Swan and brooding tall hair vampire Edward Cullen was the biggest thing on the planet. And after three films of smooching, romance, and various other such “spider-monkey” shenanigans, the “Twilight” film series was ready to take the couple’s romance to the next level — and audiences couldn’t wait to see it. For Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, the actors behind the two characters, the pressure piled up for their eventual love scene proved to be a lot to handle.
In 2015, Stewart opened up to Harper’s Bazaar on how the intense fan expectations made the love scene of “Twilight: Breaking Dawn – Part 1” difficult to film. “We had to do the most epic sex scene of all time. It had to be transcendent and otherworldly, inhuman, better sex than you can possibly ever imagine, and we were like, ‘F***. How do we live up to that?'” she said. “It was agony. Which sucks, because I wanted it to be so good.”
Pattinson likewise told Australian chat show “Kyle and Jackie O” (via NBC News) that the high pressure love scene depicting “the greatest vampire sex you’ve ever had” — which actually breaks a bed frame in the movie — had the crew laughing at the actor’s faces of “ecstasy” behind the scenes. “We’re doing it just to the camera, and the camera man is laughing as well,” he recalled. “Guys’ faces I don’t think are really designed to do [that].”
The raw misery of Blue Valentine's intimate moments
Derek Cianfrance’s intense drama “Blue Valentine” — arguably one of the most heart-crushingly realistic depictions about the start and end of a romantic relationship ever put on screen — features some visceral love scenes. And the filming of such scenes wasn’t exactly a walk in the park, according to the movie’s two stars who lived “as these characters” during filming.
While Ryan Gosling told W Magazine that he and Michelle Williams aimed “to achieve a sense of intimacy” with their simulated love scenes in an attempt to reflect how “in real life sex is messy,” his co-star Michelle Williams described the filming of these scenes as “really dark days” due to the method acting element of their performance process. “We shot the beginning of our relationship first, and it was fun and alive. Then we did the sex scenes and it was…toxic,” she explained, “Ryan and I had stopped relating to each other as Ryan and Michelle. Those scenes took forever. I had a long drive from set to home each night, and I would roll down all the windows and turn up the music as loud as I could and hang my head out the window like a dog and scream.” As anyone who’s seen the flick can testify, that aforementioned toxicity all but leaps off the screen, thanks in large part to the actors’ commanding performances.
Pretty Woman left Julia Roberts in hives
Julia Roberts might be one of the most iconic movie stars of her generation, but back in 1990, she was still a young ingénue with only a couple of years of on-screen credits under her belt who was getting used to the processes of Hollywood productions. “Pretty Woman” proved to be one of the movies that helped launch her career to superstardom, but behind-the-scenes Roberts struggled with a serious case of nerves while filming the beloved drama’s famous love scenes opposite co-star Richard Gere.
During a 1990 interview with ABC News, Roberts expressed that her inexperience with this particular genre of movie scene made her so jittery that she developed some unwanted physical side effects. “I’d never done this kind of stuff before,” she said, “I was really nervous and I get hives, so they’d say kiss and I’d get hives.”
Somehow, Roberts’ nerves aren’t at all evident in her seemingly confident performance as wooed sex worker Vivian Ward — something that the actor attributed to the supportive atmosphere she enjoyed behind-the-scenes with the “Pretty Woman” crew. “We became so close to one another that … by the time we got down to anything that was a bit scary, everybody was more nervous than I was,” she shared. In all honesty, what human being alive wouldn’t have had a stomach full of stressed out butterflies smooching up to an actor like Gere in 1990?
Did Keira Knightly seriously have a bodyguard on hand for Michael Fassbender?
For David Cronenberg’s 2011 psychoanalysis drama “A Dangerous Method,” Keira Knightly found herself in the tricky position of having to simulate scenes of being spanked by Michael Fassbender. Initially, the British actor was so uneasy with the scenes that she almost turned down the role. As she shared with The Hollywood Reporter at the time of the film’s release, “I read those two scenes and just went, ‘I don’t think that I can do that.” Knightly said she only reversed her decision to turn down the film after Cronenberg assured her that the scenes weren’t, “‘gonna be sexy'” or “‘voyeuristic.'”
Behind the scenes of the spanking sequences, Knightly confessed to doing “a couple of shots of vodka” prior to filming as well as enjoying “a couple of glasses of champagne as a celebration of never having to do that again” afterwards. During filming, Fassbender was thankfully “nowhere near” Knightly’s actual body and spent the scenes swatting a nearby box instead. However, Knightly told the publication that before shooting one of the scenes she set some ground rules with Fassbender. “I’ve got a security guard outside,” she remembered telling her co-star. “You touch me and he’s gonna break your legs!” Knightley said he pointed out that she was “tied to a bed” and “not really in a position to say that.” Hopefully, everyone raised a toast together afterwards to celebrate such an awkward scene being over and done with.
Allison Janney hospitalised her co-star during her Life During Wartime love scene
Judging by Allison Janney’s anecdote about the filming of her first-ever love scene, all is definitely not fair in love and war(time). The Oscar winner once sent the actor Michael Lerner to the hospital, after the set-up for a love scene they were filming for Todd Solondz’s black comedy “Life During Wartime” went “tragically wrong and funny.”
“We had to have sex up against a wall and they started spraying us with glistening stuff to make us look sweaty, but no one seemed to realize that we were standing on a marble floor,” Janney told People. “They said action and he … pulled me up against the wall and his feet slipped out from under him and he went crashing down on the floor.” Lerner was in fairly bad shape and had to seek medical assistance following the fall — but not until everyone on set had managed to stop laughing, which Janney said went on for “almost an hour,” adding that everyone was so tickled by the incident that they “almost couldn’t go back to work.” Speaking about the incident with Entertainment Weekly, Janney shared that Lerner “really hurt his knees.”
“Todd was trying to get me to stop [laughing] because I think Michael was really hurt,” Janney recalled to EW. “And I couldn’t.”
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