Actors Who Hated Shooting Love Scenes

Being intimate with someone is usually the most private thing a person can do. But for actors who have to portray the human experience, love scenes and nudity are sometimes part of the job description. “There’s always the things that you think are going to be tough. I’ve been nude once, and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s going to be a nightmare,’ and actually that was fine,” Promising Young Woman actor Carey Mulligan once told The Hollywood Reporter in 2015. “It’s kind of, ‘F**k it, now I’m naked and everyone else isn’t. This is hilarious.'”

At CinemaCon in 2017, Kirsten Dunst revealed that she doesn’t enjoy doing filming love scenes at all and spoke about her experience with her co-star, Colin Farrell, in the film Beguiled. “I don’t like it, I don’t like it,” she told E!. “To be honest, I’m like, ‘Let’s get this over with as fast as possible.'” Luckily for her, director Sofia Coppola agreed and finished the scene in three takes.

Basically, some stars have no problem shooting steamy scenes, while others try to avoid getting intimate onscreen like the plague. Unfortunately, sometimes the experiences actors have while filming love scenes aren’t so hilarious or quick and can be traumatic events that linger with them for their entire careers. Here are a few actors who hated shooting love scenes.

Nicole Kidman felt 'deeply humiliated' filming certain Big Little Lies scenes

Nicole Kidman has been taking on challenging roles for nearly four decades, but none were more challenging than the part of Celeste Wright in the HBO drama, Big Little Lies. Celeste lives with her sexually and physically abusive husband (played by Alexander Skarsgård), and just as those scenes between the two were difficult to watch, they were also difficult for Kidman to perform and live with after the camera stopped rolling.

“I felt very exposed and vulnerable and deeply humiliated at times,” she told W magazine in 2017. “But at times I would have flashes of images of women that have gone through this and I’m like, ‘This is authentic, this is the truth and this is what I have to do.'”

Kidman went on to recall a particularly brutal scene from the Season 1 finale. “I remember lying on the floor in the bathroom at the very end when we were doing the scenes in episode 7, and I was lying on the floor and I just wouldn’t get up in-between takes,” she said. “I was just lying there, sort of broken and crying, and I remember at one point [director Jean-Marc Vallée] coming over and just sort of placing a towel over me because I was just lying there in half-torn underwear and just basically on the ground with nothing on and I was just, like [gasps].”

The sex scenes in Game of Thrones made Emilia Clarke uncomfortable

To say that HBO’s Game of Thrones is famous for its gratuitous sex scenes would be an understatement. And the majority of these scenes required Emilia Clarke, who played the liberator-turned-fascist Daenerys Targaryen, to be completely nude. During a 2019 interview with Dax Shepard on his Armchair Expert podcast (via The Guardian), Clarke discussed the “terrifying” love scenes that she was required to film.

“I took the job and then they sent me the scripts and I was reading them, and I was like, ‘Oh, there’s the catch!'” she said, before adding that she was fresh out of drama school and trusted that “if it’s in the script then it’s clearly needed.” Clarke stated that she had only been on two film sets prior to Game of Thrones, then suddenly found herself “completely naked with all of these people” on the HBO series’ set, explaining, “And I don’t know what I’m meant to do, and I don’t know what’s expected of me, and I don’t know what you want, and I don’t know what I want.”

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in 2015, Clarke revealed that she later turned down the lead role in Fifty Shades of Grey because she didn’t want to be Hollywood’s go-to actor for nudity. “I’d done nudity before and was concerned with being labeled for doing it again,” she said, adding that she has “no regrets” for not signing on to do the film.

Jennifer Lawrence called her Passengers love scene 'a very bizarre experience'

Jennifer Lawrence burst onto the scene with the 2010 independent mystery drama, Winter’s Bone, which saw her nominated for an Academy Award. Hollywood came calling immediately, and the Kentuckian became one of the most bankable leading ladies on the silver screen. One of those big budget offerings was the 2018 romantic sci-fi film, Passengers, with Chris Pratt. The film marked Lawrence’s first sex scene, which she described as “a bizarre experience” during a roundtable discussion with other actors for The Hollywood Reporter.

How did she prepare for the scene? “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,'” Lawrence explained. Another reason why the scene was “really weird” for the Hunger Games star was due to the fact that Pratt was still married to Anna Faris in real life at the time. “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?'” she said.

Lawrence continued, “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.”

Kim Cattrall recalled a 'pretty gross' love scene in Sex and the City

From the day it first aired in 1998, the romantic-comedy drama Sex and the City became an instant hit and an American cultural touchstone. The show owed a portion of its success to actress Kim Cattrall, who played the “try-sexual” man-eater, Samantha Jones. However, Cattrall wasn’t as confident as her character at the time.

“I think I was scared. I think that at 41 I didn’t know if I could pull it off. I just felt I didn’t want to put myself out there and be ridiculed,” she revealed on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories in 2017 (via the Daily Mail). “And 40 now seems so young but then, there is ageism everywhere, not just in Hollywood and this sort of thing about being an older woman and preying on younger men.”

Cattrall then opened up about a particular experience she had while filming a love scene for the show. “I was working with an actor and we were doing the scene and he is on top of me and then he collapsed and then he farted, and I thought, ‘Is this an acting choice he has made?'” she said. “I didn’t really understand what was going on. And what had happened was he had been working out so much and so frantically, and had been on a diet, he had forgotten to eat and when he fell on me he passed out. It was pretty gross.”

Reese Witherspoon shared a 'disgusting' onscreen kiss with Robert Pattinson

Since his star-making turn in Twilight, Robert Pattinson has made women and men swoon. We assume his sex symbol status leaves him a lot options on date nights, so you would expect making out with the Tenet actor while getting paid to do it would be a dream for some. But not for Reese Witherspoon.

Speaking to In Touch Weekly back in 2011 (via NBC News), Witherspoon stated that she wasn’t a fan of kissing Pattison in their movie, Water for Elephants, for a very solid reason. “Rob possibly had the most hideous horrible cold of any co-star I’ve ever had to do a love scene with ever in my entire life,” she said. “He was literally snorting and snotting through every second of it — and it was not appealing. I’m talking green, infectious, disgusting — I’m not kidding!”

Much like anyone else who would want to make out with Pattinson, Witherspoon had high hopes for their love scene, but left the set feeling a bit let down. “I’m going to say it’s a little bit of a downer. I was a little disappointed. It wasn’t sexy,” she said.

Ruth Wilson reportedly left The Affair due to unnecessary sex scenes

Ruth Wilson won a Golden Globe in 2015 for her role as Alison Bailey in the Showtime drama, The Affair. However, during the fourth season of the show, her character was inexplicably killed off — leaving many fans and those in the media wondering why. During an interview with The New York Times in 2018, Wilson said, “It isn’t about pay parity, and it wasn’t about other jobs, but I’m not really allowed to talk about it.” She added, “There is a much bigger story,” and urged the interviewer to contact the writer and producer of the show, Sarah Treem.

Although Treem repeated the company line that Wilson’s character “had run its course,” people involved with the production spoke anonymously to The Hollywood Reporter in 2019 and painted a completely different picture. According to sources, Wilson was reportedly upset about the amount of the nude scenes she was required to perform, which seemed to offer no other purpose than to be “titillating.” Wilson reportedly asked, “Why do you need to see me and not more of him?” and was labeled as “difficult” whenever she expressed her concerns.

Another insider claimed that Treem repeatedly tried to coerce “actors to get naked even if they were uncomfortable or not contractually obligated to,” which led to a “very toxic” environment. For her part, Treem denied the accusations, saying: “I am not a manipulative person, and I’ve always been a feminist.”

Salma Hayek 'started to sob' while filming her love scene in Desperado

During a February 2021 appearance on Dax Shepard’s podcast, Armchair Expert, Salma Hayek revealed that the love scene between herself and Antonio Banderas in director Robert Rodriguez’s 1993 movie, Desperado, wasn’t in the original script. She agreed to do it since she and Rodriguez were friends — however, the experience was traumatic nonetheless. 

“So, when we were going to start shooting, I started to sob, ‘I don’t know that I can do it. I’m afraid,'” Hayek said (via People). She stressed that Rodriguez and Banderas “never put pressure” on her to do the scene, and tried to make her feel more at ease while filming: “One of the things I was afraid of was Antonio — he was an absolute gentleman and so nice, and we’re still super close friends — but he was very free. It scared me that for him, it was like nothing. I started crying, and he was like, ‘Oh my God. You’re making me feel terrible.’ And I was so embarrassed that I was crying.”

Unfortunately, filming the scene didn’t get any better for Hayek. “I was not letting go of the towel,” she said. “They would try to make me laugh. I would take it off for two seconds and start crying again. But we got through it. We did the best with what we could do at the time.”

Maria Schneider never did sex scenes again after Last Tango in Paris

1972’s Last Tango in Paris, a story about a brief affair between an older widower and a young woman, is widely regarded as a classic piece of cinema. However, Maria Schneider, who co-starred alongside Marlon Brando, spoke publicly about the film’s controversial rape scene in director’s Bernardo Bertolucci erotic drama during a 2007 interview with the Daily Mail.

“That scene wasn’t in the original script. The truth is it was Marlon who came up with the idea,” Schneider said. “They only told me about it before we had to film the scene and I was so angry. I should have called my agent or had my lawyer come to the set because you can’t force someone to do something that isn’t in the script, but at the time, I didn’t know that.” She stated that Brando attempted to ease her concerns, but reportedly in the worst way imaginable. “Marlon said to me: ‘Maria, don’t worry, it’s just a movie,’ but during the scene, even though what Marlon was doing wasn’t real, I was crying real tears. I felt humiliated and to be honest, I felt a little raped, both by Marlon and by Bertolucci. After the scene, Marlon didn’t console me or apologise. Thankfully, there was just one take.”

After the film was completed, Schneider was done with sex scenes. “I never went naked in a movie again,” she revealed, even though she was “offered many such roles.”

Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan don't look back on 50 Shades of Grey's steamy scenes fondly

Audiences knew what they were getting with 50 Shades of Grey. It was basically Cinemax After Dark on the big screen. Throughout the trilogy, Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan became instant stars by embodying the roles of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey. Unfortunately, the tradeoff was that they didn’t particularly care for filming those steamy sex scenes.

During a 2018 interview with ET, Johnson revealed that the films required “serious psychological preparation” on her part, but shooting the love scenes never became old hat for the star. “I really had to get ready for it each time and know exactly what we were going to do and how we were going to accomplish shooting the scenes, the more intimate ones,” she said. “Over the course of the three films, it never got easier. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, this old thing,’ you know?”

For his part, Dornan told The Guardian in 2014 that they didn’t want “to make something gratuitous, and ugly, and graphic,” but he felt awkward anyway. Four years later, he reflected to The Irish Sun, “I also find it funny. A part of me still can’t really believe I did those films. There’s an element in me that’s going, ‘Why did they make movies out of those books?'”

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