Love scenes are a key aspect to movies. In the Golden Age of Hollywood, they were off-screen, just a kiss and then a “morning after” bit as censors were strict. Things have loosened up over the years so today, a lot of mainstream studio pictures showcase scenes that once belonged to adult entertainment films. A lot of actors crack on how they can handle being beaten down, risking lives and such but going naked on camera is enough to make them shake in their boots. Between multiple folks watching with cameras and other issues, a love scene can be tough and no surprise some folks try to avoid them if possible. Sure, some ladies love to show off but others enjoy taking it a little easier.
But some scenes are more infamous for how damn hard they were to film. Between actors clashing, the need for “realism” or just some technical issues, they can turn rather messy behind the scenes. The content may be harder for folks to get into, the filming turning wild, the location messy or something else occurs. Sometimes, the actors hate going through it totally once, let alone several takes and the results can be rough. Other times, even the best love scenes have wild stories behind them that show how crazy they were to film. Here are 15 love scenes in major movies that were just a pain and even nightmare to film and how “getting it on” is one of the hardest parts of any Hollywood production.
15. Breakdown (Big Little Lies)
Over the years, Nicole Kidman has had a lot of rather risqué scenes. Malice, Days of Thunder, Eyes Wide Shut, she’s no stranger to dark stuff. She won an Oscar playing the troubled Virginia Wolff in The Hours and showed her great power. But Kidman has admitted HBO’s Big Little Lies was one of the harshest shoots she ever had. In the mini-series, she plays the wife to Alexander Skarsgard, a seemingly happy marriage in their small town. In reality, Skarsgard beats her regularly and their “love-making” borders on sexual assault.
Kidman handled it well, including going nude among other wild bits. But it really built up to one scene of Skarsgard doing a rather brutal scene of her in bed, mixing the sex with attacks. Kidman did her best but at one point, just curled up and had to cry, unable to hold it in. She managed to recover to continue and her Emmy nomination showed how great a job she did. But telling how an accomplished actress could be pushed to the brink by something.
14. Double The Pain (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)
Imagine what it must feel like to film a sequence that’s meant to be horrific, to be raw and to be sexually dark and explicit. Now imagine what it has to be like to make that scene over for a completely different audience. Noomi Rapace and Rooney Mara have taken different career paths and a variety of roles. But they are linked by playing the same iconic character of hacker Lisbeth Slander. Rapace was first, playing the role in the Swedish version of the trilogy of thrillers and was met by massive critical acclaim. The U.S. decided to remake it with Mara in the role who had the daunting task of putting her own stamp on the part without aping Rapace.
In the case of both actresses, they went all out with hair, tattoos, piercings and more. But they also had to endure the terrible scene where Lisbeth is molested and forced upon by her corrupt guardian. The Swedish version is more graphic and Rapace described being seriously shaken having to go through it with the brutal content and situations. Mara stated she felt the pressure of replicating that and going even further in some ways thanks to David Fincher’s eye for detail. In both cases, the actresses were in for a dark time and shaken having to handle one of the rougher aspects for a tough character.
13. Butter Use (Last Tango In Paris)
It’s hard to defend this one. After years on the low point of Hollywood, Marlon Brando returned to the A-list with his Oscar-winning turn in The Godfather. Once more a huge star, Brando decided to take a chance with Last Tango in Paris, a dark drama of a romance in the city. Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, the film had Brando and Maria Schneider in an affair that utilized elements more graphic than any movie ever seen before. It was amazingly powerful but making it remains something Schneider claims to be the worst experience of her life. Bertolucci put her through some very harsh bits and it came out that Schneider had no idea how graphic the love scenes with Brando would be until they were filmed.
The worst had to be when Brando and Bertolucci decided together to do the infamous ‘butter’ scene without warning Schneider to “make it look real.” As such, she cried out it was full-on assault years later. The movie was a hit but Schneider never spoke to either man for what they did to make this the worst time of her life.
12. Candle Play (Body Of Evidence)
There was a time when Madonna really thought she could be as huge in movies as she was in music. She had some good stuff here and there such as A League Of Their Own and Evita but many of her attempts at stardom didn’t work out. A clear case is Body of Evidence, a thriller with her as a femme fatale on trial for murder. William Dafoe played her lawyer who’s soon pulled into her web of seduction. This included some steamy scenes but came off a bit laughable. Among them was when Madonna tied Dafoe into bed and then pours candle wax onto him. Given she’s no stranger to wild times, it may not be a surprise that Madonna insisted on doing this for real. Dafoe reported he’d assumed the restraints were for show but she cuffed him down so tight, it left marks. Worse was that she used real candle wax on him, leaving Dafoe with some nasty burns. The movie was a flop and no surprise it had a scene that was burning in the wrong ways.
11. Mom On Set For Your Big Moment (Superbad)
Moms can be embarrassing, especially when it comes to talking about sex in any way. So imagine how it must have felt for Christopher Mintz-Plasse to have his mother on set for his big sex scene. For this cult comedy, Mintz-Plasse was only 17 when cast as “McLovin” the guy eager to finally lose his virginity. It leads to his big love scene with his girlfriend but because Mintz-Plasse was underage, law required his mother to be on set for the scene. That’s right: Mintz-Plasse had to do a wild love scene with his mother literally a few feet away. He laughs that it was actually easier in some ways as his mom thus knew about it and so he didn’t have to explain the scene later when the movie aired. However, they both decide they’re not going to discuss it ever again and shows how moms can make literally any moment uncomfortable as hell.
10. Paper Cuts (The Wolf Of Wall Street)
On the one hand, The Wolf of Wall Street is a movie Margot Robbie has to remember well. Her turn as hooker Naomi boosted her to instant stardom as her stunning nude scenes burned up the Internet fast. And what woman wouldn’t mind doing a love scene with Leonardo DiCaprio? But one sequence had Robbie suffering a bit more than expected for her art. For one scene, director Martin Scorsese had the idea of DiCaprio’s character high on his success filling the bed with dollar bills then taking Robbie on them. It was a great visual but while the crew suggested using plastic bits, Scorsese insisted on real paper. Someone never explained to him just how sharp that can be when used. Thus, Robbie suffered paper cuts on some…sensitive parts of her body. The fact she had to do the scene a couple more times just made it worse but she managed to suck it up to make the scene work. It may have been a million bucks on screen but not an experience as pleasant for Robbie.
9. Pool Party (Showgirls)
It makes sense that one of the most laughable love scenes of all time would have to be harsh to film. Showgirls has become famous as a “so bad, it’s great” movie but at the time, director Paul Verhoeven seemed to truly think he was creating a piece of art. Today, folks love to laugh at Elizabeth Berkley’s nutty performance and the over-dramatic way the whole thing is shot with crazy dialogue. It all builds up to the scene where Berkley’s Nomi hooks up with Kyle McLachlan’s Zack at his mansion. The two are going at it in a pool scene that books report was a messy shoot. Pool scenes sound much better in a script than shooting as you have to handle everything from risks of chlorine to how the water may accidentally reflect the cameras.
Throw in Verhoeven’s antics with his intensity and urging on a wild performance and it got crazier. He wanted retakes to get “the right energy” and encouraging Berkley to cut loose. This included her wild gyrations that make this scene a howler during the movie’s midnight screenings. Infamous as a bomb, it’s no surprise this love scene was as messy to shoot as it was to watch.
8. Doing It In Public (Crank)
The Crank movies contain what is quite probably the craziest plot to an action movie ever. Jason Statham plays a hitman who in the first movie is stuck with a drug that will kill him unless he keeps his adrenaline flowing. He thus has to go full-out in fighting, running and more to keep his heart rate flowing. That includes a sequence where he has sex at a Chinatown mall with Amy Smart. Both actors had to do it in public surrounded by passersby and in multiple takes which Smart laughs at as the craziest scene she’s ever had to film. That’s not to mention how they had to block out some folks, keep the mall going and do it all during business hours.
The sequel ramps it up with Statham now with an artificial heart he has to keep shocking with power to keep going. Once more, he and Smart go at it, this time at a race track. This meant once more shooting in public with actual horses racing around them. They basically shot between races at a real track with most of the crowd just regular customers which meant having to make a lot of legal moves to make it all work and Smart and Statham going at it on the track with horses roaring around them. Sure, it was designed so the horses looked closer than they were but still a risk of one suddenly going off-course to trample the duo. The movies are totally insane but making this scene shows the filmmakers had to be crazier.
7. Puppet Play (Team America)
Matt Stone and Trey Parker have admitted that Team America: World Police was an idea that sounded a lot better in their heads than actually filming. A wild send-up of pro-American big-budget action movies, this 2004 comedy was delightfully politically incorrect and totally over the top. The idea of doing it all with marionettes appealed to the twisted humor of both men. However, they massively underestimated just how much time and effort would be needed to make the puppets work. Thus, the production dragged thanks to issues. This came up in the massive love scene between characters Gary and Lisa. The result is a mind-blowing scene of the two in various positions and crazy bits that can’t be printed. Stone and Parker noted in interviews how it was a complete mess to film, the wires spinning together, they needed multiple takes for the action and almost could never get the positioning right. That it came together at all was amazing but that scene alone convinced the duo they were never going to do a sequel as once was enough for puppet play.
6. Pastie Laughs (The Change-Up)
This 2011 comedy put an adult spin on the old “body switch” formula. Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds are best friends who switch minds in a wild way. Now in the body of his single friend, Bateman (as Reynolds) decides to enjoy a life of wild women. This includes hooking up with his secretary (Olivia Wilde) in some steamy scenes. At the time, Wilde wasn’t doing nudity and thus for the big scene, she and Reynolds went at it with Wilde wearing pasties on her breasts. Reynolds, a notorious on-set prankster, simply couldn’t resist having a little fun rubbing over. Reynolds also had to deal with nervousness being so close to a nearly naked Wilde, his hands sweaty and thus when he rubbed her breasts over, he knocked the pasties off. This led to him covering her breasts and trying to make it “an act of chivalry, not sexual assault.”
Wilde did get back at Reynolds as for a retake, she drew smiley faces on the pasties to crack him up. The whole thing turned out okay in the end but maybe a reason Wilde decided to go nude more often was that it was a lot easier to handle than this mess.
5. Bad Food (Masters Of S*x)
When you’re doing a series about famed sex researchers Masters & Johnson, it’s only natural it gets graphic. This Showtime series did that, intriguing in how it produced a clinical look at intercourse amid steamy stuff. The focus was on the main characters played by Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan who began hooking up “for the science” before it turned into a romance. Caplan in particular threw herself into it with multiple nude and very graphic scenes and handled herself well. Sheen, on the other hand, had some issues.
For their very first love scene, Sheen seemed to be shaking and Caplan just thought he was acting out the nervousness of his character. As he unbuttoned her shirt, he shook more and then without warning, ran to a wastebasket to throw up. Naturally, Caplan was thrown, worrying she was somehow so repulsive, she literally made Sheen sick. As it turned out, Sheen had suffered food poisoning from a bad lunch and had been trying to cover it for the scene. They managed to get through it (with Caplan insisting Sheen take several breath mints) yet it was messy to continue. Looks like you really don’t forget your first time.
4. Going Too Rough (Fifty Shades Of Grey)
One would think some things would get a bit out of hand on this movie. After all, it adapted the bestseller infamous for its BDSM content and dark romance. True, critics and some readers weren’t happy about the movie’s tone and many contend the lack of chemistry between Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan. Both actors gave it their all in scenes, Johnson showing off nicely in various ways. Surprisingly, it wasn’t any of the real bondage stuff that caused some issues. Rather, it was for a scene of Dornan throwing Johnson onto a bed in prelude to some kinky antics. It sounds good but Dornan got a little too into it, throwing Johnson so she bounced off the bed, slammed into the wall and caused a nasty crink in her neck. Dornan apologized as Johnson fought through it for more scenes. The issue of trying to replicate the “romance” amid the darker actions also led to some pushes and more than a few times, both actors complained about having to go through all this. As painful as some claim this movie was to watch, it was just as hard to make it.
3. Multiple Takes (Eyes Wide Shut)
Stanley Kubrick was a fantastic filmmaker with amazing works from 2001 to The Shining. But he was also one of the hardest directors to work for thanks to his incessant need for multiple takes until he found the “perfect” one. For his final film, Eyes Wide Shut, he famously spent an entire day just for one five-second bit of Sydney Pollack rising from a chair. The movie was famous for showing Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman as a couple getting into some risqué stuff. That included when Cruise goes to a party featuring multiple nude and masked women engaging in various acts.
That would have been one thing to show on its own. But then throw in Kubrick’s need for retakes and it gets crazier. Imagine how it must feel to be naked except for a mask and having to simulate some sexual act. Now imagine being told you have to do it about twenty more times. The fact many of these women were just “background” yet had to keep doing it time and again had to be uncomfortable as hell. Kubrick died before the film was released and thus this ranks as yet another reason he was seen as frustrating as he was brilliant.
2. Wild Scene But PG Rating (Twilight: Breaking Dawn)
Working with your boyfriend is tricky. It’s more so when you have the task of creating the most anticipated love scene ever. Such was the case when Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattison came together as Bella and Edward for the climatic Twilight movie. The two finally were married and enjoying an island honeymoon which led to the big love scene. The issue, as Stewart states, was that they felt a huge amount of pressure on them as book readers loved the scene for being epic with literally breaking the bed and other antics. Trying to replicate that was a lot but bigger was that trying to tame it for the PG-13 rating. Thus, you had bits like pillows torn about but it had to be done in a “tame” manner. Stewart laughed on how messy the pillows could be tossing feathers and such around and having to do it several times. That’s not to mention the pasties over herself and Pattison and trying not to get eager as they were still a couple during filming. The scene may not have been as spectacular on screen but making it work was a hard experience.
1. Cramped Quarters (Crash)
Not to be confused with the 2005 Best Picture winner, this 1996 drama could only come from the twisted mind of David Cronenberg. The director had the wild idea of focusing on a batch of people who find sexual pleasure in car crashes. Starring Holly Hunter and James Spader, the movie rocked critics with its open nature and several wild scenes. In a recent Entertainment Weekly article, Hunter discussed how hard this movie was to film. Love scenes are one thing but try to imagine them when cramped very tightly in a car, showing off and undergoing makeup for “injuries.” The crashing was no issue, that was stunt work but Cronenberg insisted on the actors getting cramped as possible so a lot of sore legs and twisted muscles resulted from the multiple takes for these scenes. Only Cronenberg could have done a movie like this and show how complex such scenes can be.
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