Sex scenes in movies are a dime a dozen. Some are good, some are bad, some are hilariously fake, and then there are the select few that are incredibly real… sometimes to an unsettling degree. It makes you wonder if the actors in those scenes were only pretending to be going to town on each other… or if they decided to pull out all the stops and really go for it on camera! Well surprisingly, there are a bunch of explicit scenes in movies dating back all the way to the early 70s that feature real, unsimulated sex between the actors in a scene.
These aren’t adult films or skin flicks, but real Hollywood productions filmed to be shown to the public within that appropriate age bracket. And some of these scenes involve big names in Hollywood who have gone on to headline their own shows, win awards, and continue to make a name for themselves.
I’ve compiled 15 movies that are famous for their overly sexual themes, all of which contain scenes of “lovemaking” where the love is all too real. Can you spot one that made you look twice because you thought things looked way too real for it to be fake?
15 Margo Stilley and Kieran O’Brien Do Everything to Each Other (9 Songs)
Where do you draw the line between “art film” and “skin flick”? 9 Songs, the highly sexualized musical odyssey from director Michael Winterbottom, makes no effort to answer that question. Although critics pretty much butchered the film during its festival run (I’m sure some of them enjoyed the visuals nonetheless), 9 Songs has grown into a cult favorite as far as erotic indie cinema is concerned.
The film is a coming of age story that paces itself to the beat of nine live performances from different bands, all of whom play songs that are either overtly sexual or have sexual undertones. And each song is complemented by scenes of uncensored, unsimulated sex, straight-up oral included, between actors Kieren O’Brien and Margo Stilley. Stiley defends the film to this day, saying she doesn’t regret any of the scenes that took place. “People were really angry with me. I got told I was a whore and a slut and how could I do it. And what kind of role model did I think I was giving young women?” she said. “It was a film about love and sex. It wasn’t porn. I mean, I had sex with my boyfriend last night and that wasn’t porn. It was just hot sex! 9 Songs was a real film about love and sex, and I wanted to do that film and I am proud of it.”
14 Robert Pattinson’s O-Face (Little Ashes)
Have you ever wanted to see Robert Pattinson’s O-face? Neither have I, but that’s exactly what you’ll get if you watch Little Ashes, a film that stars the teen heartthrob before he got all sparkly and sentimental in that series about vampires, werewolves, and the power of love… or something.
Here’s how the story goes. A scene in Little Ashes required Pattinson to give himself some attention below the belt, but the actor felt that faking an orgasm would show on camera and would look way too goofy, so he decided to do the five knuckle shuffle with the cameras rolling! How method of him. When’s the last time Daniel Day Lewis pleasured himself for the camera? Yeah, that’s right… never! So the next time you catch this movie – although you probably won’t because it’s pretty obscure – just know that when you see Pattinson’s hand heading out of the frame and moving down south, he’s wrangling the trouser snake… for real! In an interview with Interview Magazine, Pattinson even admitted that the scene was completely real. “[Faking it] just doesn’t work, so I pleasured myself in front of the camera. My orgasm face is recorded for eternity.”
Still a better love story than Twilight.
13 A Real Group Effort (Shortbus)
You didn’t think we were done with the really bizarre stories, did you? People say that filmmaking is a true team effort, and that notion holds true in more ways than one in Shortbus, the movie about a sex salon. In 2006, director John Cameron Mitchell came out with a film called Shortbus, which eventually became a staple of erotic cinema as well as crazy set stories. Shortbus is about a group of New Yorkers who get caught up in a romantic-sexual convergence of sorts at an underground salon that’s also infamous for its fusion of art, music, politics, and yes… wild, crazy sex.
John Cameron wanted his actors to show real emotion, and thus encouraged them to have real orgasms when the cameras were rolling. And the crazy part is, he even jumped in on one of the scenes because he wanted to “help” by going down on a woman in the final scene of the movie! Now that’s either sheer dedication, or Mitchell went to unnecessarily great lengths just to get in between someone’s legs… but I guess it worked because the movie is revered as a truly provocative yet inventive story about life and sexual freedom.
12 Aubrey Plaza Flies Solo (The To-Do List)
It isn’t easy transforming into a character in front of the camera, let alone dozens of other people on set who are watching every little detail in your performance. So imagine what kind of mental preparation Aubrey Plaza had to go through when she was asked to “fly solo” for a scene in The To-Do List! Masturbation in film isn’t new by any standards. There have been many scenes of men and women going to town on themselves, but because these are mainstream movies and not the “adult” variants, actors normally fake their climaxes and are framed in such a way that you don’t actually see the deed being done. However, the director of The To-Do List wanted Aubrey’s sense of self-pleasure to be real, so she also requested that the actor do it for real, with the cameras rolling!
As Aubrey told Conan O’Brien in a hilarious interview, “I read it on the page, and it said ‘Brandy masturbates’. And in my head I envisioned a nice scene where you just see my hand slowly go out of frame. I thought I was doing one thing and then when I showed up it was a whole different thing. It was a full body shot! And I asked the director, ‘What should I do?’ And she said, ‘Masturbate, like it says in the script’.”
11 Lauren Lee Smith Did The Deed (Lie With Me)
You may recognize Lauren Lee Smith from such shows like The L Word, and you may find Eric Balfour very familiar if you’re a fan of Haven and the highly-acclaimed TV show 24, but did you know that Lauren and Eric took a very real trip to Pound Town in front of the cameras for a movie Lie With Me? The movie’s plot is relatively simple… as is the case with most highly sexual cinematic escapades. A modern, sexually aggressive young woman begins a sex-charged relationship with an equally aggressive guy. Soon, what started as a purely physical ordeal begins to bleed into their personal lives and new revelations start to surface. Pretty straightforward, right? And you can imagine with a plot like that, just how many extremely sensual scenes are peppered throughout the film. Heck, even the poster for Lie With Me is NSFW!
Both Lauren and Eric have confirmed that they really got it on for this movie, with Lauren even defending her decision wholeheartedly. “Let’s face it, at some point in any actor’s career, you have to get naked — whether physically, emotionally or mentally,” she told The Vancouver Sun. “This movie offered me the chance to do all three at once!”
10 A Real Three-Way (Ken Park)
Writer Harmony Korine and director Larry Clark are famous for their work on Kids, a provocative film that was released back in 1995. But that’s not all they’re known for. Slightly outside the mainstream limelight lies a movie called Ken Park. It’s a product of both Korine’s and Clark’s creative minds and not talked about all that much because of how overly sexualized it is. Based on Larry Clark’s own diaries, Ken Park is an extremely dark sexfest of a film that features many, many scenes of real sex with all the actors involved. There’s a hyper-real threesome towards the end of the movie, as well as a very controversial scene showing autoerotic asphyxiation. Like I said, this film isn’t a walk in the park.
Critics weren’t too kind to Ken Park during its initial festival rounds. Some called it artfully edgy, but others labeled it as exploitative and borderline adult industry filth. Either way, the movie has become a staple name in the category of unsimulated sex in film, and it’s also one of the most realistic, non-romantic depictions of the deed. The problem with Ken Park is that most of the movie is has no story, so it works like a skin flick instead of an actual film.
9 Roman Fun (Caligula)
Caligula is the movie that really got people thinking if directors were exploiting the vague rules of cinema and passing pornography off as an actual movie. The film is so unhinged and so unapologetic about its sexual nature in every way that it remains to this day one of the most erotic films in Hollywood history. Released in 1979 to the shock and probably delight of many, Caligula tells the story of the fall of the Roman Emperor. But it’s hard to take that plot seriously when a chunk of the movie revolves around the Romans’ surprisingly graphic sexual exploits and a whole lotta bare bottoms jiggling on screen. Now wait till you hear who was in the movie.
Calm down, neither McDowell nor Mirren are in any of the explicit scenes – a lot of which feature group activities, fellatio, and yes… even ejaculation. The scenes were shot in private and edited into the film after it was shot, much to the dismay of the director. Unfortunately, Caligula was produced by a dude named Bob Guccione, who also happened to be the founder of Penthouse Magazine. There wasn’t much the director could do, so the film was released in all its graphic glory and lives on as a damn dirty staple of erotic cinema.
8 Kerry Fox Really Went To Town On Mark Rylance (Intimacy)
When the studios decided to name this film Intimacy, a story about two strangers who hook up for anonymous, meaningless yet very steamy sex, they meant every single alphabet of the word! If there was an award for most uninhibited performance of oral sex in a mainstream Hollywood film, Intimacy would win that prize by a mile and a half. The 2001 British film features Kerry Fox actually going down on her co-star, Academy Award winner Mark Rylance, in a pretty gung-ho, no bullsh*t kinda way. That’s right, there were no body doubles, no prosthetics, and no obstructive framing by the cinematographer. Heck, if you walked in the room during this scene not knowing the movie, you might even mistake it for a well-produced adult flick!
Maybe that’s just the devoted nature of Kerry Fox as an actor, and the willingness of Mark Rylance as the serious thespian that he is, but either way, kudos to them for being able to pull this scene off because it mustn’t have been easy with all those other people around. Kerry still loves the film and defends it saying, “I absolutely have no regrets and it’s one of the best pieces of work I’ve ever done. You can’t have any regrets in this job — what’s the point? It’s a fruitless waste of time to think like that.”
7 Karl Glusman and Aomi Muyock Do It In 3D (Love)
The makers of this movie were not kidding when they said Love was going to push the boundaries of unsimulated sex in a film. Heck, it even has a series of banned posters… some of which feature an actual penis post-climax! Directed by Gaspar Noe and starring Karl Glusman and Aomi Muyock, Love is a pretty self-explanatory movie about two people who are in a relationship and love to bang each other’s brains out… in an artsy-fartsy way of course, because you know, it has to pass as an actual film.
The film is chock-full of extremely erotic depictions of sex in various positions, all of which were performed for real, on camera, by the two leading actors and their co-star who shows up halfway. But what really set this movie apart was the fact that Gaspar Noe decided to shoot all the steamy scenes in 3D, which means that festival folk would be able to see Karl and Aomi pound each other silly as though they were really there. How nice. Gaspar said his intention was to arouse the audience, and it’s safe to say he did that. I just hope they gave those seats a good wipe afterwards.
6 Real Action, Real STD (Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song)
You know, having real sex in a movie does come with very real risks as well… like the chance of catching an STD if you’re not careful. And that’s exactly what happened to Melvin Van Peebles, the actor-director of Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song. The movie was released in 1971 and became the first “blaxploitation” movie to truly tread new ground in terms of unsimulated scenes in cinema. Decades later, Melvin Van Peebles admitted that the explicit scenes in the film were real and unsimulated, and that he had really done the deed on camera. As if his word wasn’t proof enough or as if we needed more, Melvin also revealed that he had contracted an STD for his efforts and was given worker’s compensation because the infection was spread to him on set.
Unlike most other movies on this list, Sweet Sweetback’s isn’t a purely erotic film. It’s actually set against an unstable political landscape that didn’t favor the black community back in the 70s. The movie is about a male prostitute who saves a Black Panther from racist cops and then has to escape the authorities with the help of a ghetto community and a bunch of Hells Angels. Sounds awesome, right?
5 Julie Christie And Donald Sutherland Got Very Intimate (Don’t Look Now)
You know the sex in a movie is way too intense when the actress’ then-boyfriend asks the director to recut the scene to make it look less graphic! Don’t Look Now tells the story of a grieving married couple who are in Venice when they encounter two elderly sisters, one of whom is psychic and brings a warning from beyond.
Rumors of real physical intimacy between actors Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland (you’ll never look at The Hunger Gamesthe same way again) on the set of Don’t Look Now have been circulating for a very long time, ever since the movie’s shocking debut in 1973. But it wasn’t until a memoir by film critic Peter Bart, who was the editor of Hollywood trade publication Variety at the time Don’t Look Now was being made, explicitly said that the two actors were doing it for real, that the rumor was finally confirmed. “It was clear to me that they were no longer acting,” he wrote in his memoir. “They were f*cking on camera…” wrote Bart. One particular scene was so intense, that Julie Christie’s boyfriend at the time, Warren Beatty, was so uncomfortable that he requested the scene be altered.
4 Whips, Lips, And Everything In Between (Nymphomaniac)
Lars Von Trier has made a name for himself by blurring the lines between sexploitation and artistic erotica on film by creating stories that are ripe with sex so graphic, cinema chains sometimes refuse to play the unedited versions of his films. For those wondering, Nymphomaniac, Lars Von Trier’s two-parter sexfest, has a theatrical version that’s already too risqué for most countries around the world… and then there’s the uncut version that redefines the words “eroticism in movies.”
As for the sex in Nymphomaniac, it’s totally real… but the actors aren’t the ones doing it to each other. The movie stars a bevy of top actors like Shia LeBeouf and Uma Thurman, but body doubles are used for the real “money shots” and close-ups of the deed being done. However, although news of prosthetic privates on set have been circulating online, a lot of the sex between the body doubles were in fact, completely real and unsimulated. Don’t get too excited though, because if indie films didn’t bombard you with a deep sense of disturbance and melancholy, they’d just be skin flicks. Nymphomaniac is such a methodical, melancholic take on sex that it’s hard to find any real pleasure among the somewhat depressing narrative.
3 Art Or Exploitation? (The Idiots)
Controversial filmmaker Lars Von Trier makes it on this list again, but this time it’s for a very weird film called The Idiots. When it comes to the rebellious Lars, there are always two camps: people who think he’s a genius who tests the boundaries of cinema norms with his brave ideas and methods of raw storytelling, and those who think he’s a pretentious bore who just wants to depict people bonking on screen. Whatever the case, there’s no denying that his body of work includes some of the most erotic scenes to be ever shot for mainstream release. The Idiots isn’t exactly as risqué as his other projects, although the concept of a group of people trying to release their “inner idiot” by pretending to be mentally handicapped in public is both offensive and disturbing at the same time.
However, the film also features real sex in at least one scene. There is certain penetration during one of the orgy scenes in the film. No one knows for sure if the other provocative scenes also depict real sex, but some of them deal with pretty explicit themes like wife swapping… among other things.
2 Hard On Set (Romance)
Have you ever wondered, when was the first time a fully erect ding-dong was shown in a movie? Me neither, but I’ll answer it for you anyway… it was in a film called Romance. Released in 1999 at the edge of the new millennium, Romance decided to make a name for itself by showing an engorged peen for everyone’s viewing pleasure.
But that’s not all. Romance is a movie about Marie, a schoolteacher who is deeply in love with her boyfriend but cannot handle the complete lack of intimacy in the relationship. She soon starts to satiate her sexual appetite by venturing elsewhere, leading her into risky situations, including creating a sexual dynamic with the headmaster… who I assume had a whole new meaning to that title by the time the movie was done. As you can imagine, the movie contains plenty of nudity, explicit oral adventures, and some solo action. It pretty much changed the way lovemaking could be shown on screen. Thanks, Romance!
1 Disgustingly Erotic (Wetlands)
It’s nauseatingly gross, it’s very provocative, it’s sexually supercharged, and it holds a glowing 89% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes! Wetlands was released in 2013 and tells the story of Helen, a young woman who wants nothing more than for her divorced parents to get back together. That’s basically the decent aspect of the movie. The rest of it is a tie between Helen performing disgusting acts like licking a filthy toilet bowl and swapping used tampons with friends, and revving the sexuality of this movie by masturbating with vegetables. Oh, and hemorrhoids are a big part of this movie as well. Don’t ask. However, arguably the most shocking scene in this movie isn’t courtesy of the hygienically-challenged Helen at all. Instead, there’s a scene in which four men ejaculate on a pizza! Again, it’s better if you don’t ask and go watch the movie for yourself.
Wetlands is actually a film that I would highly recommend from this list. It’s wired to shock and make you cringe and wince, but it also has a very well plotted-out story that makes you, for better or worse, want to follow Helen on her little journey of self-discovery and complete disregard of social norms.