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From Jennifer Lawrence to Dakota Johnson: 22 actors on what sex scenes really feel like

‘I apologise if I get aroused and I apologise if I do not get aroused.’: From Jennifer Lawrence and Daniel Radcliffe to Dakota Johnson and Ryan Reynolds, 22 actors talk about filming sex scenes.

hollywood Updated: Aug 01, 2017 11:55 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Sex Scenes,Jennifer Lawrence,Jennifer Lopez
Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal in a still from Love & Other Drugs.

Two things happen when you’re watching a movie and a sex scene comes on: A, you become super-conscious, and if there’s someone around, you immediately change the channel, and B, you wonder if it’s all a big sham and the actors are doing it for real.

Well, aside from a few notorious instances where that really was the case - films like Michael Winterbottom’s 9 Songs, and Gaspar Noe’s Love - it’s just a combination of nerves, awkwardness, and strategically-located pasties.

Here are over 20 actors, including Dakota Johnson, Anne Hathaway, Daniel Radcliffe and Michael Fassbender, on what it’s really like shooting a sex scene, with all due credit to E Online for compiling the list.

Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl

“It’s a very odd experience. Funny enough, when you’re actually shooting it and you’ve got a whole crew around you, it’s remarkably normal. However, the odd thing that (director David Fincher) asked us to do was rehearse this scene for two hours, alone, on an empty soundstage—just (Neil Patrick Harris) and myself,” she said in an appearance on Late Night With Seth Meyers. “And that is when it feels highly inappropriate. You are 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. No one there’s there, so then we think, ‘OK, we should be professional about this. We should film this on an iPhone and see how it looks.’ Then you watch this thing back and it looks like we’re making some sort of super creepy home porn movie.”

Justin Timberlake in Friends with Benefits

“It’s actually kind of annoying. You’re there for 12 hours; it’s exhausting,” he told BBC. “All those scenes revolve around the dialogue and physical humour is so tiring.”

Amy Schumer in Trainwreck

“I am sort of a boundary-less person, which is something I’m working on. In our house, nudity wasn’t a big deal, so that was never an issue for me. It was about the crew. The sex scenes that are funny, I don’t care, but the ones that are actually sexual, it’s like these people are seeing me be really vulnerable,” she told The New York Times. “Frank, who’s holding the boom, is seeing, ‘Oh, this is what Amy is like when she really means business.’ In between every single take, I think I screamed, ‘It’s so embarrassing!’”

Michael Fassbender in Shame

“The most important thing is that the other person involved feels safe and doesn’t feel like you’re taking advantage of them in the scene, ‘cause you’re revealing a lot, you’re going to places where you’re vulnerable, and that requires an awful lot of trust,” he told Time Out Chicago. “You talk with your partner and say, ‘What are you comfortable with? What are you not comfortable with?’ And then you go for it. You try and throw away the safety nets and not worry where the camera’s gonna be or how you’re gonna look or worry about looking ugly.”

Jennifer Lopez in The Boy Next Door

“It was intense,” she told E! News. “Those scenes are embarrassing. They are uncomfortable, but your job as an actress or an actor is to make it believable, and this movie in particular…hinges on if that was believable, that it was enough to make this guy go insane.”

Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral

“Love scenes are extremely difficult. You’re always within a millimeter of sentimentality and yuck,” he told W magazine. “But sex scenes are something else. 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. I like the experience of being in a sexual position when you’re not supposed to be in one.”

Jennifer Lawrence in Passengers

“I got really, really drunk. But then that led to more anxiety when I got home because I was like, ‘What have I done? I don’t know,’” she told The Hollywood Reporter about working with Chris Pratt. “And he was married. And it was going to be my first time kissing a married man, and guilt is the worst feeling in your stomach. And I knew it was my job, but I couldn’t tell my stomach that. So I called my mom, and I was like, ‘Will you just tell me it’s OK?’ It was just very vulnerable. And you don’t know what’s too much. You want to do it real, you want everything to be real, but then...That was the most vulnerable I’ve ever been.”

Ashton Kutcher in No Strings Attached

“I just start by apologising. I think somebody told me—and I’m not sure who the actor was; I think it was Sir Laurence Olivier who said it...I think he said something to the effect of, ‘I apologise if I get aroused and I apologise if I do not get aroused.’ And you have to say it with the accent if you do it,” he told NBC Bay Area. “But there is sort of always this awkward state of, ‘Is this OK? Is that OK?’ And then in between, it’s like, just, ‘Let’s act like nothing happened.’ And then you see how good of an actor you really are.”

Dakota Johnson in Fifty Shades of Grey

“There’s a scene in which Christian uses a flogger on Anastasia,” she told TIME. “Filming a sex scene is not a sensual or pleasurable environment. It’s really hot—not in a steamy, sexual way. It’s just sweaty and it’s not very comfortable. And on top of that, my hands and legs were tied, and I was blindfolded, and I was being hit with this bizarre tool.”

Ryan Reynolds in The Change-Up

“In the scene, she’s sitting there and I take her top off and the bra off, and she has those pasties on, but she’s drawn these adorable little smiley faces on them,” he said about his sex scene with co-star Olivia Wilde at The Tonight Show. “And I forget every line in the scene—not just from this movie but from every other movie I’ve done. 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.”

James McAvoy in Wanted

“It’s sweaty and uncomfortable. My paranoia is, the girl I’m doing the sex scene with will think I’m getting off on her,” he told The Daily Record. “I have nightmares about that.”

Kristen Stewart in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2

“I only hate them when they’re contrived,” she told Harper’s Bazaar. “On Twilight 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, ‘How do we live up to that?’ It was agony. Which sucks, because I wanted it to be so good.”

Dave Franco in Neighbours

“I was pretty nervous for the scene,” he said on Chelsea Lately. “I met the girl the day before and she was beautiful and very sweet, but it’s awkward. You meet each other and then you’re grinding—you don’t even know her name, barely. You have 20 crew members who are also watching you do it. And then, of course, for me, I woke up that morning and I had a giant pimple on my ass...It sucks, right? I had to go to the makeup artist who I had also met that week and be like, ‘Can we go in the other room and you’ll put makeup literally on my ass?’ So, that was that.”

Mila Kunis in Black Swan

“It’s hard to have a sex scene, period. It doesn’t matter if it’s a friend, a male, a female. You’re with 100-something crew members, lighting you, re-positioning you,” she told The Huffington Post. “There’s no comfort whatsoever.”

Ryan Gosling in Blue Valentine

“Actors become very professional and proficient about watching out for each other’s light and not stepping on each other’s lines. All of these things are artificial, and you have to strip that away if you’re going to achieve a sense of intimacy,” he told W magazine. “In real life sex is messy, and we wanted to get at that wonderful messiness.”

Margot Robbie in Wolf of Wall Street

“There isn’t an option,” she told Vanity Fair. “It’s just like, ‘This is what you need to do. Get on with it.’ The sooner you do it, the sooner you can stop doing it. It’s so awkward.”

Jon Hamm in Bridesmaids

“It’s like running in the rain. There’s a certain point where you go, ‘F--k it, I’m already wet. I’m not going to get any less wet so I might as well enjoy how this feels,’” he told Playboy about his scene with Kristen Wiig’s character. “I mean, sure, there’s an awkwardness about being in a weird flesh-colored thong, bouncing on top of an actress. And I am not a small human being. I weigh at least 200 pounds and I’m 6-foot-2. And Wiig is a twig; she’s a skinny little thing. I told her, ‘Just punch me in the side if I’m hurting you.’ 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.’”

Liam Hemsworth in The Dressmaker

“It’s always pretty awkward when you have to take off your pants in front of the crew and other actors and all that stuff. During the scene, it’s fine. You don’t feel uncomfortable whilst the cameras are rolling,” he told E! News. “As soon as it’s ‘cut,’ and you’re standing around and you’re in your underwear, chatting to the crew, that’s when it’s weird and uncomfortable.”

Luke Evans in The Girl on the Train

“When we were having sex, we were drunk—boy and girl drunk,” he told E! News of filming with Haley Bennett. “I thought we should have a little drink just to take the edge off. We were tipsy. We were show-tunes-singing-drunk while having fake sex. We sang Lion King.”

Anne Hathaway in Love & Other Drugs

“These are people who have no trouble taking their clothes off—in a way their bodies are their currency,” she told Vogue about hers and Jake Gyllenhaal’s characters in the film. “But they’re terrified of exposing their vulnerability—of becoming emotionally naked.”

Daniel Radcliffe in Kill Your Darlings

“Basically, gay sex, especially for the first time, is really f--king painful. And (director John Krokidas) said that he had never seen that portrayed accurately on film before,” he told Flaunt.

Kirsten Dunst in The Beguiled

“I am on the floor and my clothes are being ripped,” she told E! News. “I don’t like it. I don’t like it. To be honest, I’m like, ‘Let’s get this over with as fast as possible.’ At least (director Sofia Coppola) was like, ‘We’re going to get this done quick. We’re just gonna shoot it here, we’ll do three takes, be done.’”

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First Published: Aug 01, 2017 11:50 IST