Many actors refuse to get naked in front of a camera. After all, when you’re a celebrity, it can be hard enough to maintain your privacy in other areas of life. But another reason actors avoid filming sex scenes is because pretending to have sex for a film can be an awkward experience.
What we see as a private moment is really awkwardly staged in front of cameras and crew members. Despite the cons, many actors will film sex scenes for the sake of their art (or a fat paycheck). These actors and actresses shared about pretending to do the deed in front of a camera. (Neil Patrick Harris’ on-screen lover dishes on filming an awkward sex scene on page 9.)
1. Julia Roberts on Pretty Woman
I had never done this kind of stuff before … They’d say “kiss” and I’d get hives.
But the funny thing is that we’d become such a family, this particular crew, we became so close to one another that by the time a scene like this came up — everyone knowing the way that I felt and you know my value ideas about it and then my own personal ideas about it and my problems with it — that by the time we got down to anything that was a bit scary everybody was more nervous about it than I was.
Pretty Woman was Julie Roberts’ first foray into a sexier movie involving intimate scenes. She and co-star Richard Gere received many accolades and became a legendary on-screen couple.
Next: Is the best time for a practical joke during a sex scene?
2. Ryan Reynolds on The Change-Up
She takes my hands and puts them on her breasts … And I’m trying not to look at her like a 14-year-old boy that just won the lady lottery. I take my hands away and I look down at my hands and there’s two frickin’ smiley faces on them and I have no idea what to do.
The scene is over now. … And I reflexively, like an idiot, just put my hands right back on her breasts. And I think I’m doing it to cover them up, but I’m realizing now that it’s a very fine line between chivalry and, you know, workplace sexual assault.
In the comedy, Ryan Reynolds plays a single man who switches bodies with a married father of three kids. The actor also has a sex scene with Olivia Wilde, who helped break the ice in a hilarious way.
Next: This actress’s first threesome scene wasn’t what she expected.
3. Sofia Vergara on Faking Gigolo
She said: “At the beginning, I was a little nervous because … I’ve never done anything like this, not in real life or on camera. So it was a little nerve-wracking. When I arrived on the set, Sharon [Stone] was very supportive. She told me, ‘Just follow me, I’ve done this many times, it’s going to be fine, just relax.'”
In 2013’s Fading Gigolo, Sofia Vergara, Sharon Stone, and John Tuturro’s threesome made headlines. The titillating scene was also directed by Tuturro, who said, “I thought it would be interesting to put these characters in situations they had never been in before.”
Vergara said she relied on Stone’s previous experience in movies like Basic Instinct to help guide her through the awkward scene between a gigolo (Tuturro) and his two female clients.
Next: This heartthrob took sexy to a slippery level.
4. Bradley Cooper on Wet Hot American Summer
He said: “I remember we kept our socks on. The big tube socks. We put a lot of that sweat stuff, you know, that glistening gel. And then we were up against — yeah, it was nuts.”
Netflix’s 2015 release of Wet Hot American Summer took actor Bradley Cooper outside his comfort zone. In the camp-comedy revival, he and Michael Ian Black play two adolescent boys hooking up in a tool shed. After rubbing each other in fake sweat, they kept their socks on while mimicking the deed, notably one of the more serious moments of the show.
Next: This on-screen couple famously “never let go.”
5. Kate Winslet on Titanic
The Rose in me was really sort of loving the Jack in him, actually. And even though I didn’t feel that way about Leo, it was quite nice to sort of feel that way in the scene. It was quite lovely.
And then, y’know, the camera stopped rolling, and he gets up and walks off, and the scene’s done. And I remember lying there thinking, “What a shame that’s over.” Because it was quite nice. It was.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet filmed one of the most iconic sex scenes in movie history. (How can anyone forget the sweaty palm against the car window?) Their friendship even brought them together to film other movies.
Next: This English actor’s confession may scare his future costars.
6. Hugh Grant
He said: “The conventional response to sex scenes is that they’re horrible and not sexy and it’s all so unnatural. But I’ve always found filming sex scenes to be quite a turn-on.”
The most awkward thing about Hugh Grant’s confession is how comfortable he feels mimicking sex. While promoting his 2016 film Florence Foster Jenkins, the actor told W magazine how much he prefers sex scenes over love scenes. Grant even went on to say, “I like the experience of being in a sexual position when you’re not supposed to be in one.” Interesting.
7. Natalie Dormer on Game of Thrones
She said: “Anyone who says they’re laid-back about sex scenes is a fibber. The choreography of a sex scene is so unsexy and unglamorous, it’s all about camera angles, you have to recreate the moment so many times. It’s just timing and technical.”
Sex scenes are a part of almost every episode of this fantasy TV show, but that doesn’t mean the actors get used to it. Natalie Dormer, who portrays Margaery Tyrell, must seduce two kings throughout her reign as queen.
Next: This actor’s racy sex scene injured him.
8. Michael Douglas on Romancing the Stone
He said: “We were twisted a certain way in lighting it — I saw it, it was really beautiful, sensual, sexy, looks gorgeous — I started getting a back spasm from staying in one position take after take. And I got a lot of ribbing on that one.”
Unfortunately, Michael Douglas experienced a common middle-age problem during his sex scene with Kathleen Turner. It didn’t stop the then-39-year-old from nailing his breakout role in this 1984 action movie, Romancing the Stone.
Next: Sex scenes are even harder to film when they involve murder.
9. Rosamund Pike on Gone Girl
She said: “That is when it feels highly inappropriate. You’re alone with a man who’s not your husband who also has a husband … he’s in his underwear, you’re in your underwear and you’re sort of dry humping on a bed.”
Rosamund Pike had to film a shocking sex scene with Neil Patrick Harris for Gone Girl, a thriller about a missing woman. Harris elaborated on their uncomfortable moment together: “We had to rehearse the [Gone Girl] sex scene, like every inch of it. ‘Then you put your mouth on his dick here and then this number of thrusts and then you ejaculate.’”
Next: Filming a couple recording a sex tape is twice as awkward.
10. Cameron Diaz on Sex Tape
She said: “That was a really tough day for me. A lot of prosthetics.”
The comedy portrays a married couple who accidentally lose their sex tape. Of course, this meant Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel had to strip down to film the sex scene. Diaz revealed her hardest workday was fulfilling the role of body double for Segel’s headstand.
But the duo actually said it was easy for them to film together. “It wasn’t particularly awkward for either of us,” Segel said according to The Daily Beast. “We both went into it with the mentality of being as funny as possible, so we really felt like teammates. As Cameron says, it was a locker room vibe.”
Next: Filming an outdoor sex scene is even worse.
11. Amy Smart on Crank: High Voltage
She said: “Jason and I are lying in the middle of a racetrack, with horses galloping past and racing fans loving every minute of it … I tried not to think of what was in the dirt that we were rolling around in or I would have been sick. It was definitely stinky at times.”
In the sequel to Crank, Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) must give his battery-powered heart jolts of electricity to keep going. And the actor and Amy Smart have a public sex scene, with the racetrack only making things more awkward.
Next: Few things are more awkward than a flesh-colored thong.
12. Jon Hamm on Bridesmaids
I mean, sure, there’s awkwardness about being in a weird flesh-colored thong, bouncing on top of an actress. I am not a small human being … And Wiig is a twig; she’s a skinny little thing.
It’s weird and uncomfortable at first, but then all the awkwardness melts away and you think, All right, we’re doing this, so let’s have fun with it … You’re in that moment and it’s happening and it’s not going to get any better, so you might as well enjoy it.
Kristen Wiig plays Annie, who has a casual sexual relationship with Jon Hamm’s character. The actor may be hot, but his character was pretty insulting, even in bed.
Next: This actor covered all his bases for his sex scene.
13. Ashton Kutcher on No Strings Attached
He said: “When in doubt, use Sir Laurence Olivier. I think he said something to the effect of, ‘I apologize if I get aroused and I apologize if I do not get aroused.’ But there is sort of always this awkward state of, is this okay, is that okay? And then in between it’s like, just, let’s act like nothing happened.”
The 2011 romantic comedy follows two people in a casual sexual relationship, so multiple sex scenes took place between stars Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman. Scared of offending his acting partner, Kutcher gave a funny apology.
Next: This on-screen couple pushed boundaries in the bedroom.
14. Jamie Dornan on Fifty Shades of Grey
He said: “Some of the Red Room stuff was uncomfortable. There were times when Dakota was not wearing much, and I had to do stuff to her that I’d never choose to do to a woman.”
In Fifty Shades of Grey, Dakota Johnson played the shy Anastasia Steele, who gets into an S&M relationship with the rich Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan of The Fall). The movie required filming sex scenes in Christian’s “red room,” which made both actors uncomfortable. Johnson took her mom’s advice on how to approach filming these scenes.
“It was a very closed set,” Johnson said. “My mom [Melanie Griffith] told me that it’s my right to ask for that during intimate scenes, so it seemed like [Jamie Dornan and director, Sam Taylor-Johnson and I] were in this little world together.
Next: This famous duo did their best to prevent rug burns.
15. Paul Sparks on House of Cards
It’s not often that you get to have sex with and then die underneath Robin Wright, so it was pretty spectacular. And she was directing too, so if you add in the fact that death scenes are, along with sex scenes, probably the hardest things we do as actors, it was … [Laughs] it was pretty monumental. It was good …
I remember constantly having to put down kneepads for Robin so she wouldn’t get rug burns. [Laughs] So there’s that.
Playing Tom Yates opposite Robin Wright’s Claire Underwood in House of Cards, Paul Sparks faced the double awkwardness of filming a steamy sex scene — including death by poison — while receiving direction from his counterpart. Wright served as director of this episode, which means she was in charge of Paul’s every move. He did not seem to mind.
Next: This popular series was notorious for sex scenes.
16. Lena Dunham on Girls
She said: “I will be lying there kind of being slammed by a naked body, thinking, ‘I want out of this bed. I want out of this scene. I want out of this life. Who did this to me?’ And I realized, I’m my own boss. I’ve written it. I’m directing it. I’m the person holding myself in sexual slavery.”
Leave it to the show creator to compare acting to sex slavery. Many know Lena Dunham for her weird sex scenes on the HBO show Girls. And some wonder why she does it, including herself.
Next: This iconic actress had to portray a LOT of sexual tension.
17. Kirsten Dunst on The Beguiled
18. Lizzy Caplan on Masters of Sex
She said: “I was so nervous and then I was so drunk that after I shot the scene I was going up to the crew members — I had just met all these people the day before — and I was going up to all of them being like, ‘You gotta boner! You do! You got one!’ It was horrible.”
Lizzy Caplan used liquid courage to prepare for her first sex scene in Masters of Sex. And it seemed to help; she portrayed Virginia Johnson for all four seasons of the show.
Follow Nicole Weaver on Twitter @nikkibernice.
Additional contributions by Ali Harrison.
Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!