50 Celebrities Talk About Shooting Sex Scenes

Why, yes, they do find them awkward

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1 | "You can literally be tangled in sheets and you turn to the other actor and say, 'What the fuck are we doing?' Dear Mum, at work today I had so-and-so's left nut sack pressed against my cheek. It's sort of unethical if you think about it in those terms." — Kate Winslet

2 | "Sex scenes can be quite awkward. As a guy, the first thing you want to do is make sure you're not taking advantage. You don't want the girl to feel like you're getting a free feel or something. I try to make a fool of myself in one way or another to lighten the mood and then just go for it, because you don't want to be doing take after take." — Michael Fassbender, on Jane Eyre

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3 | "So in the scene she's sitting there, and I take her top off, I take her bra off, and she has those pasties on, but she's drawn these adorable little smiley faces on them. And I forget every line in the scene. Not just from this movie, from every movie I've done." — Ryan Reynolds, on The Change-Up

4 | "I knew that there would be awkward sex scenes, but they were so wonderfully awkward. They were so specifically awkward ... Everything was highly choreographed and planned out, so it wasn't shocking. Ben [Stiller] is a great actor and such a gentleman and made sure that everything was OK with me." — Greta Gerwig, on Greenberg

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5 | "It was both of our first times having an onscreen [sex] scene. It was such a safe, comfortable environment and I am so grateful that it was with Miles, because he was such a gentleman and made me feel very comfortable and nurtured. And I think I made him feel very comfortable and nurtured. It was really sweet. We wanted it to just feel natural." — Shailene Woodley, on The Spectacular Now

Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley in The Spectacular Now

6 | "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." — Lena Dunham, on Girls

7 | "We shot the beginning of our relationship first, and it was fun and alive. Then we did the sex scenes and it was … toxic. 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. It was my escape." — Michelle Williams, on sex scenes with Ryan Gosling in Blue Valentine

8 | "You mean the trying-not-to-have-sex sex scene? It was hard … a lot of times actors can trick people into thinking something is happening when it's not happening, and we had to call ourselves out on anything that didn't feel honest. 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. In real life sex is messy, and we wanted to get at that wonderful messiness." — Ryan Gosling, on Blue Valentine

Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine

9 | "It's actually kind of annoying, you're there for 12 hours, it's exhausting." — Justin Timberlake

10 | "You kind of suddenly feel this strange thing of asking people to participate in anything like that because they're not a real couple. You find out how strange this is to ask anybody to get naked together and put a camera on them. [The actors] actually made me more comfortable. I was being a lot more prudish. I would have allowed them to be more prudish and they told me it was all right and important for the story. They wanted to do what they wanted to do and they were comfortable." — Angelina Jolie, on directing a sex scene for In the Land of Blood and Honey

11 | "It's like running in the rain. There's a certain point when you go, '[Expletive] it, I'm already wet. I'm not going to get any less wet, so I might as well just enjoy how this feels.' 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. I weigh at least 200 pounds and I'm six-foot-two. 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 know what I mean? 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." — Jon Hamm, on Bridesmaids

Jon Hamm and Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids

12 | "When it comes to sex scenes, I'm not comfortable doing them — I don't think anyone ever is comfortable doing those kinds of scenes." — Chloë Sevigny

13 | "I'm convinced that the best way to shoot a sex scene and make it seem real is to use a master shot — an uninterrupted sequence with no cuts. I wanted to see the bodies. The overwhelming challenge was how to show two (and in this case even more) people having sex without depicting the act of thrusting. By its very nature, sex needs thrusting. More specifically, one part of the body must be in some form of friction with another. This isn't a very romantic way of thinking about it, but then again the MPAA isn't a very romantic organization. Their job is to count thrusts, and then decide — depending on the number — who should see the film. Nice work if you can get it." — Atom Egoyan, director of Where the Truth Lies

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14 | "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, on shooting a sex scene with Neil Patrick Harris in Gone Girl

15 | "I get cast gay a fair amount throughout my life. It's not the first time. Matt [Letscher] was kind of like, 'Jeff, um, I'm gonna pretend this is real easy and not a problem, but I've never done this at all.' And so you know, we were awkward for a while. And then he said, 'Let's go for it. Come on. I'm gonna pretend you're my girlfriend, my wife. Here we go.' And we had a lot of fun." — Jeff Perry, on Scandal

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16 | "We had to rehearse the sex scene with David [Fincher], like every inch of it — 'Then you put your mouth on his dick here, and then this number of thrusts, and then you ejaculate.' He doesn't want a lot of reinterpretation once you start rolling." — Neil Patrick Harris, on shooting a sex scene with Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl

17 | "Maybe it should be weird, simulating sex with your husband in front of people? But it's really not. When it's a love scene with someone you actually love, there's no feeling like, 'Can I touch him here? Can I touch him there?' You know what your boundaries are — or what they aren't, I suppose." — Anna Paquin, on True Blood

Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer in True Blood

18 | "He is completely naked except for not even the thickness of a sock. I can completely feel his boner. He's not even a real actor, he's an extra. And he's smashing me and fucking the shit out of me in the scene. I did [put on panties] but you couldn't see. It felt very violating. It made me realize I'm a very strong woman and this happened to me. It's not rape but it was kind of a wake-up call." — Sarah Silverman

19 | "It's just a part of the role. So I did it. I mean, you see everything." — Cameron Diaz, on Sex Tape

20 | "I was talked through it by the director [John Krokidas]. He would be telling me what I would be feeling in each take. Basically, gay sex, especially for the first time, is really fucking painful. And he said that he had never seen that portrayed accurately on film before. He wanted it to look like an authentic loss of virginity." — Daniel Radcliffe, on Kill Your Darlings

21 | "The hardest thing about sex scenes is that everybody is a judge. I don't know the last time you murdered somebody or blew anyone's brains out, but everyone has had sex and probably this morning, which means everyone has an opinion on how it should be done." — Michael Douglas, on Behind the Candelabra

22 | "I think the more comfortable you are with each other, the harder it gets to do any kind of really intense relationship scene. You're kind of thinking, 'I don't want to embarrass myself in front of this person.'" — Robert Pattinson, on Breaking Dawn

Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in Breaking Dawn

23 | "Trying to do an aggressive sex scene is quite difficult. Especially in a public place with a crowd of screaming extras with their little camera phones going click-click, taking pictures of your pasty white ass. I've had my fair share of bedroom antics in films, but they were a little more private." — Jason Stratham, on Crank 2: High Voltage

24 | "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, repositioning you, there's no comfort whatsoever." — Mila Kunis, on Black Swan

25 | "There's some good positions in there. Jon Hamm — pumpin' away. He was making his money that day. There was nothing hot about that scene. We weren't, like, looking into each other's eyes." — Kristen Wiig, on Bridesmaids

26 | "I was nervous because I've been in love with her since I can remember. It was very surreal for me." — Zac Efron, on sex scene with Heather Graham in At Any Price

27 | "I'm pretty immature, so I get pretty embarrassed still. But yeah, you ... I would, like, check out once in a while, certain shots to make sure I felt OK. Because sometimes once you see it, like, there was one of the panties coming off that we did, and after I watched it I was like, Oh that's not bad, because it was really quick. It wasn't like, lingering on anything that I felt, you know, modest about or anything. I checked a little. You do sort of go the opposite direction between takes. 'Oh, what are you doing this weekend?' Like, totally benign conversation between to make it a little normal." — Natalie Portman, on No Strings Attached

Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher in No Strings Attached

28 | "I just start by apologizing ... I think somebody told me, and I'm not sure who the actor was. I think it was Sir Laurence Olivier who said it, but ... I always use Sir Laurence. 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." And you have to say it with the accent if you do it. 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." — Ashton Kutcher, on No Strings Attached

29 | "It was my first real sex scene where I show my butt. You're not going to have that reaction when you see it on the big screen. It was nerve-wracking. I was pretty nervous. 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." — Dave Franco, on Bad Neighbours

30 | "It was so ... awkward. And you can never destroy that awkwardness; it's always going to be there — even when you're with somebody for the first time in real life. It's just strange" — Amanda Seyfried, on Chloe

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31 | "There is that revoltingly embarrassing moment when you have to take your clothes off in front of strangers. I mean, I don't go to the beach in a bikini for a reason. So I thought,
OK, I'm going to be in control. I'm going to do everything properly, disrobe at the last minute, and in between shots get the clothes back on. But then I found that every time I put my robe back on, it rubbed all the body makeup off, and that added 20 minutes to filming. As with all things in life, the second you stop making it about you and you make it about everyone else, it just got, dare I say, fun." — Anne Hathaway, on Love and Other Drugs

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Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal in Love and Other Drugs

32 | "I've had a pretty illustrious career at this point, but the hardest thing has been pretending to be turned on by Anne Hathaway. And I pride myself on really having pulled it off." — Jake Gyllenhaal, on Love and Other Drugs

33 | "The sex scenes are also a privilege, and we have to see it that way. If it's written by great people — these people that write the show are really smart, we can trust them — I do feel like those scenes are really necessary. It's a big part of [prison] life. To be able to go into those private moments, and be authentic with that ... that's what I'm interested in." — Yael Stone, on Orange Is the New Black

34 | "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 [imitates drunk self], 'You gotta boner! You do! You got one!' It was horrible." — Lizzy Caplan, on Masters of Sex

35 | "They are mortifying. You've got hundreds of people watching ... I'm doing a real orgasm — not "real," but the way I know it sounds in real life, because I don't know how to fake it ... That's embarrassing." — Jemima Kirke, on Girls

36 | "It was very nerve-wracking for me. I told my agent I never want to ever do it again." — Vanessa Hudgens, on Spring Breakers

Vanessa Hudgens in Spring Breakers

37 | "The sex scene was really awkward. It was my first day... so I guess it was good to break the ice." — Blake Lively, on The Town

38 | "[I did] a couple of shots of vodka — definitely — beforehand, and then a couple of glasses of champagne as a celebration of never having to do that again!" — Keira Knightley, on A Dangerous Method

39 | "I wanted it to be truthful, I wanted it to be raw, I wanted it to be real." — Reese Witherspoon, on Wild

40 | "You kind of just have to, when you're doing it, serve the story and try and be as real and in the moment and do what's required." — Ben Stiller, on Greenberg

41 | "There's always that jumping off place when you're doing a sex scene when you can tell the crew's like, 'OK, it's comin'. At this point, it's actually not a big deal." — Taylor Schilling, on Orange Is the New Black

Taylor Schilling and Laura Prepon in Orange is the New Black

42 | "One of the first scenes we had to do, we were in a shower together. But the cool thing is, we're so comfortable with each other, so that's really great. We totally trust each other, which is awesome." — Laura Prepon, on shooting with Taylor Schilling in Orange Is the New Black

43 | "There is always a particularly large and hairy man holding a boom wearing a crop top. I don't know if they're like, 'Ooh, sex scene, where's my crop top because I need to hover above Olivia, make sure my hairy belly is somewhere in the vicinity of her face.' People imagine it's this really glamorous and sexy thing, but I always laugh because in reality there are 50 people in the room. You are stopping and starting. There is someone yelling, like, 'Can you move your hand, can you just put your shoulder down, OK, good, more, more …'" — Olivia Wilde, on sex scenes in general

44 | "Those are always daunting scenes when you see them on the schedule. You're counting the days. Kirsten was like, 'Come on, whatever. Let's have fun doing it and let's go for it.'" — James Marsden, on sex scene with Kirsten Dunst in Bachelorette

45 | "It'd be weird if he was like, 'Ah, I'm cool with it, do whatever,' you know? It's never fun [shooting love scenes], but you just get really used to it, it's weird. They [Channing and her male co-stars] are, like, really good friends, so it's even more awkward. 'Yeah, we have this love scene, but we were just hangin' with our wives and husbands ...' It's acting, you know — it's weird." — Jenna Dewan-Tatum, on Witches of East End

46 | "As a matter of fact, in the first scene we ever had, where Gabriella and John first had sex, we were rehearsing and then the director was like, 'OK, get out of bed, we have to reset the set', and I was like, 'I need a minute.'" — Jesse Metcalfe, on Desperate Housewives

47 | "It's a pretty technical process. It's built out of lots of little pieces. It's not as if we're over there just making out and someone's shooting." — Joseph Gordon-Levitt, on Don Jon

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Scarlett Johansson in Don Jon

48 | "I remember saying, 'What if we wear tube socks, and I'll go up on the wall, and you'll come from behind me.' And I said in the scene, 'Say my name,' and Michael says, 'Ben!' And I say, 'No! Say my Christian name,' and he whispers, 'Benjamin,' and that's when I came."— Bradley Cooper, on Wet Hot American Summer

49 | "It was all me, pal. All the flopping around, all the everything was all me. When you take on a character like this and you want to accurately reflect the nature of who these people are, you just gotta do it. You can't think about yourself, because it's not me, it's a depiction of somebody else." — Leonardo DiCaprio, on The Wolf of Wall Street

50 | "We like it to be realistic but not real, but I wear something I call the 'vag pad,' it's kind of a little triangular panty liner that you stick to you ..." — Emmy Rossum, on Shameless

This article was originally published on Cosmopolitan


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