From Bridgerton to Fifty Shades to Normal People, the best TV and movie sex scenes all have one thing in common: They look totally legit. When you watch two actors do the deed on screen, it’s easy to believe they’re actually getting it on, and it’s no wonder that co-stars are so often rumored to be an IRL item. However, as celebrity quotes about filming sex scenes prove, the process of making those hot-and-heavy TV and movie moments is usually the opposite of sexy. From uncomfortable undergarments to awkward issues, some A-listers have spilled secrets about Hollywood sex scenes, and they’re truly LOL-worthy.
Many popular TV show and movies have started recruiting intimacy coordinators to help actors navigate their most intimate scenes. According to Bridgerton star Phoebe Dynevor, their sex scenes were as carefully choreographed as their dance numbers to make them more comfortable. “With the intimacy scenes, we got to rehearse all of those over and over again before we went on set, so we were together a lot of the time before we even started shooting,” she told Elite Daily in December 2020. But even with the help of intimacy coordinators, things can get awko-taco, and these celeb quotes sum up all the awkwardness.
Phoebe Dynevor Compared Sex Scenes To Stunts
It really was like shooting a stunt. It looked real, but we’ve got padding on. The angles are very … I mean, I’ve shot intimacy scenes before in the past without any of that. And I can’t believe really how new this all is, because it just changed the game. We felt super safe and it just meant that when we got on set, we already knew exactly what we’re doing. We’d blocked it all so specifically. I knew exactly where his hand was going to go at what point.
— Phoebe Dynevor on Bridgerton to Harper’s Bazaar in January 2021
Regé-Jean Page Said Sex Scenes Often Require Choreography
When you’re speaking with your words, you have words written down on a piece of paper. When you’re speaking with your bodies, you have choreography in the dance scenes, and you have choreography in the intimate scenes. The only difference is that you’re doing a dramatic scene with a few less clothes on sometimes.
— Regé-Jean Page on Bridgerton to Elite Daily in December 2020
Emmy Rossum Needed Liquid Courage For Her First Sex Scene
I was really nervous about it at first. The first time we did it, I had to have a beer or two. But you actually find that you get frighteningly comfortable with it after a very short amount of time. We like it to be realistic, but not real. So I wear what I like to call a ‘vag-pad.’ It’s like a little triangular panty liner than you stick to yourself and the guy wears a sock.
— Emmy Rossum on Shameless during Chelsea Lately in February 2011
Daisy Edgar-Jones Spoke About The Vulnerability Required
You need more protection because it is a stunt, with physical maneuvers that you need to make look realistic – just like in a fight scene. Mentally, it’s a really vulnerable place to put yourself in. You need to feel like you have the control and agency in those moments, so that you can feel relaxed and give a better performance.
— Daisy Edgar-Jones on Normal People to Porter magazine in June 2020
Paul Mescal Experienced A Few Awkward Moments
Filming those scenes is probably the least sexy thing you’ll ever do in your life, so it’s amazing that they turned out so brilliantly, because at the time, they are quite unsexy … On the Friday of the first week, me and Daisy had to do a day of sex scenes and we were covered in this gel called Egyptian Magic. It’s basically fake sweat. We had to switch positions and our bodies were in close contact. When we separated, it made a really loud fart noise. Me and Daisy started hysterically laughing, but the crew and director all thought that one of us had farted and really were trying to preserve our dignity.
— Paul Mescal on Normal People to The Mirror in September 2020
Samira Wiley Was Worried About Her Parents’ Reaction
It was my first sex scene and my first nude scene that I’d done, and I think I was worried about what my parents were going to think and all that kind of thing. Me and my scene partner, we just had a great time, and it wasn’t difficult. It definitely wasn’t sexy. It felt very mechanical.
— Samira Wiley on Orange Is the New Black to Huffington Post in June 2014
Camila Mendes Had Fun With It
Roberto [Aguirre-Sacasa], our show runner, had told me there’s going to be a really steamy scene, and I was like, ‘OK, I’ll get ready. I have a month to physically prepare myself.’ No, but it was really fun. It’s kind of funny playing a scene like that and having a whole camera crew right around you. But KJ always makes it so funny that it’s a blast.
— Camila Mendes on Riverdale to Entertainment Tonight in October 2017
KJ Apa Said Filming Sex Scenes Gets Easier Over Time
It’s weird with someone you don’t know that well. On a movie set, you have time to get to know the person and rehearse before shooting. Camila [Mendes] and I just had to dive into it. Now that we’re friends, it’s easier.
— KJ Apa on Riverdale to Cosmopolitan in May 2018
Leonardo DiCaprio Had To Disassociate For His Sex Scenes
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 to Extra in December 2013
Mindy Kaling Thinks Sex Scenes Are Actually “Pretty Enjoyable”
Obviously on-screen sex is not actual penetrative sex, but as any religious high-schooler will tell you, simulating sex can be pretty d*mn enjoyable as well.
— Mindy Kaling on The Mindy Project in her 2015 book Why Not Me?
Kit Harrington Got The Giggles While Filming
If you’ve known someone for six years, and they’re best friends with your girlfriend, and you’re best friends with them, there is something unnatural and strange about doing a love scene. [Emilia Clarke and I will] end up kissing and then we’re just pissing ourselves with laughter because it’s so ridiculous.
— Kit Harrington on Game of Thrones to Vanity Fair in May 2018
Zac Efron Said Sex Scenes Are No Big Deal
Romantic scenes get built up because they’re something that’s coming up. It seems like they’re always looming and other people don’t want to talk about them because somehow it’s got this weird awkward perception. Once you get there, if it’s with somebody you really trust, I thought that was one of the easiest days.
— Zac Efron on The Lucky One to Collider in April 2012
Kristen Stewart Hates When Sex Scenes Feel “Contrived”
I don’t mind [sex scenes]. I only hate them when they’re contrived. That’s when it’s grotesquely uncomfortable. 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, ‘F*ck. How do we live up to that?’ We were so self-consciously aware of that, me and Rob [Pattinson] and the producers. It was agony. Which sucks, because I wanted it to be so good. Other than that, sex scenes are the same as any other normal scene.
— Kristen Stewart on Twilight to Harper’s Bazaar UK in May 2015
Robert Pattinson’s Experience Was A Little Messy
It was so hot in Toronto [where Map to the Stars was shot], and [Julianne Moore]’s one of these people… she doesn’t sweat at all. But I sweat like a f*cking crazy person. And I was trying to literally catch drops of sweat to stop them hitting her back! Afterwards she was like, ‘Are you having a panic attack?’ It was so embarrassing.
— Robert Pattinson on Map to the Stars to Heat magazine in September 2014
Timothée Chalamet Considers Sex Scenes “Freeing”
On the page, those are the scenes that catch the anxiety in your throat. There’s a certain physical requirement to them that’s obviously vulnerable and more than what one usually reveals to another person, let alone in front of a camera to an entire audience. Yet when it comes to the day of doing it, it becomes so about doing it honestly — and when you do it with a scene partner like Saoirse [Ronan], it’s about establishing very solid boundaries in the doing of the scene.
With the peach [from Call Me By Your Name], conversely, it’s just about focusing purely on the honesty of the moment and you kind of forget about the camera. It can actually be even more freeing than having a ton of expositional lines or a more classical over-the-shoulder shot, two-person dialogue scene.
— Timothée Chalamet on Lady Bird and Call Me By Your Name to the Toronto Star in December 2017
Dakota Johnson Had To Get Uncomfortable
I had these sort of strapless thongs that had glue on them. It’s not glue, but it’s sticky. They’re like… basically if it were a nipple pastie, but underwear. But it’s only sticky at the top, it’s not sticky the whole way. It would also come off because the adhesive would wear out, so then they would superglue it to my body so that it wouldn’t fall off. And I would wear two of them. It’s not painful, I mean, it’s barely anything. But I guess you have some sense of being covered. It’s f*cking bizarre.
— Dakota Johnson on Fifty Shades trilogy to Marie Claire in February 2018
Jamie Dornan Wore An Unsexy Accessory
I wear, like, a wee bag. That’s an expression I say from where I’m from, a ‘wee bag,’ but it doesn’t mean it’s actually ‘wee’ inside. I wear, like, quite a big bag … I sort of picked one [modesty sock] that I liked the look of and the shape of, and I picked it up and then in the seam, it said ‘Inmate #3’. It was like sewn in. I was like sh*t! This has been used before. I just sort of, like, mind over matter, just closed my eyes.
— Jamie Dornan on Fifty Shades trilogy during Jimmy Kimmel Live! in Febraury 2018
Kate Winslet Finds Sex Scenes “Profoundly Bizarre”
It’s a profoundly bizarre thing to do. As actors you talk about it all the time. You can literally be tangled in sheets, and you turn to the other actor and say, ‘What the f*ck 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 to V in September 2011
Issa Rae Prepares For Sex Scenes Just Like “Real Sex”
I prepare just as I would for real sex. It might be TMI, but I just want to make sure that I’m presentable in all areas. I want to make sure that I smell great, and I also want to make that if my partner doesn’t smell great, that I smell good enough for the both of us. But thankfully that’s never happened.
— Issa Rae on Insecure to Coveteur in August 2018
Yvonne Orji Is Amazed By The Convincingness Of Sex Scenes
Even when I watch it I’m like, ‘Dang, this looks kinda real!’ When he has the final scene where he goes down, he went just two inches out of frame, but it makes it look like he’s going all the way down. It’s like, ‘Man, TV magic is real!’ The camera was just really tight on my face, and once he goes out of frame, you just pretend he’s still going down, but he literally stops right out of frame. It looks amazing, but in reality, it’s a choreographed dance, if you will.
— Yvonne Orji on Insecure to Vulture in August 2017
Ryan Reynolds Was Left “Speechless” By One Scene
So, in the scene, [Olivia Wilde]’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. And I forget every line in the scene — not just from this movie but from every other movie I’ve done.
— Ryan Reynolds on The Change-Up during the Tonight Show With Jay Leno in August 2011
Olivia Wilde Considers Sex Scenes Anything But “Glamorous”
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 House to GQ in May 2009
Anne Hathaway Said There’s A Trick To Making Them Bearable
George Pimentel/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
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 to Entertainment Weekly in November 2010
I guess it’s a testament to their acting skills that those scenes still turn out totally hot.