Romance is one of the biggest draws of cinema, since romantic love is something that most human beings seek in their lives. It’s also one of the many fantasies that film can offer through projection and empathy with their on-screen characters.
However, the important thing to remember about movies is that the fantasy is being acted out by real people. You can write a love scene in a novel and have the characters do whatever you choose, but in film, you need enough chemistry and professional commitment from the actors to make a love scene work.
People don’t always get along, and not all love scenes make it to film without some personal difficulty. Sometimes there’s so many troublesome factors among the cast and crew that the scenes don’t get made at all.
For this list we’re looking at on-screen romances where the actors were very reluctant to get intimate with each other.
Prepare to have your suspension of romantic disbelief tested because here are the 15 Actors Who Refused (Or Regretted) Doing Love Scenes With Their Co-Stars.
15 CLARE DAINES (ROMEO + JULIET)
Baz Luhrmann took his turn at adapting the beloved Shakespeare tragedy to the big screen with Romeo + Juliet in 1996. Leonardo DiCaprio plays the lovesick Romeo of House Montague, while Claire Danes plays the naïve Juliet of House Capulet. The aesthetic of Luhrmann’s adaptation was to take the Shakespearian dialogue from the original play and just transplant it into “Verona Beach California," circa 1990-something.
At the time of filming, DiCaprio was 22 years old and Danes was 16, nearly reflecting the age difference between their two characters in the original play. Despite being younger than DiCaprio, Danes reportedly found him insufferable on set.
She found him immature and didn’t appreciate the pranks and practical jokes he would pull on the cast and crew. It would be quite difficult to put up with behavior like that while trying to film any of the lavish, romantic scenes that appear in the final film.
14 KIRK CAMERON (FIREPROOF)
Kirk Cameron first became prominent in Hollywood as teenage star on the sitcom Growing Pains in the late '80s. Chelsea Noble played Cameron’s girlfriend on the show, and the two actors eventually fell in love behind the scenes as well. Cameron became an evangelical Christian at the age of 17 and he and Noble married in 1991. Cameron was 20 and Noble was 26 that year.
What does this have to do with his on screen romances? Since Cameron started making Christian films, he has played a husband in several of his roles. However, because of his beliefs and his marriage, he refused to kiss any woman other than wife Chelsea Noble.
So, when his character was supposed to kiss his on screen wife in Fireproof, the crew did a clever workaround. They had Noble dress up as the wife character and shot the scene in silhouette so that enough of a visual semblance would be maintained.
13 RACHEL MCADAMS AND RYAN GOSLING (THE NOTEBOOK)
The sensational success of The Notebook back in 2004 launched a whole wave of Nicholas Sparks big screen adaptations and imitators. It was a sweeping, nostalgic, dramatic romance for the 21st century.
A romance is only as good as its two (or more) leads. They have to sell the audience on their characters feelings for each other and their own sympathetic situations. Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling certainly sold their performances to massive audiences.
It could make it even more impressive (or just disappointing) to know that McAdams and Gosling reportedly hated each other during the filming of this movie. There may have been some resentment between the two about Gosling being handpicked by director Nick Cassavetes and McAdams going through auditions.
Cassavetes even told VH1 about one point in filming when Gosling almost got an entire day of filming cancelled because he was so frustrated with McAdams. Cassavetes had to take Gosling aside and eventually let him and McAdams have it out.
12 TONY CURTIS (SOME LIKE IT HOT)
Marilyn Monroe is probably what most people would think when the phrase “Hollywood sex icon” comes to mind. Her personal and physical appeal have endured well past her career and even her lifetime. Plenty of actors got to share the big screen with her, but apparently, some didn’t enjoy their onscreen romantic encounters with Monroe.
In Some like it Hot, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon dress in drag to pose in an all-female band in order to escape the Mob. Marilyn Monroe plays one of the band’s star singers. It becomes quite a romp when Curtis and Lemon have to keep up their cover as ladies and also juggle plot lines as their male selves. In one scene, Curtis and Monroe are ensconced in a yacht and get into a very protracted kissing scene.
Monroe and Curtis had been in a tryst a few years before the film was shot, but by the time of filming their relationship had soured. Curtis reportedly told the crew that kissing Monroe was like "kissing Hitler." Even in jest that’s a pretty harsh description. It certainly didn’t help matters that Monroe was a pretty troublesome presence on set.
11 NATHAN FILLION AND STANA KATIC (CASTLE)
ABC’s Castle plays host to the duo of Nathan Fillion’s Richard Castle and Stana Katic’s Detective Kate Beckett. Castle is a crime novelist in a rut when a real life killer starts emulating murders from his books.
He’s able to land himself a position with the NYPD under the guise of researching for his next book to informally help Beckett solve crimes. Despite their budding heads throughout the show, Castle and Beckett eventually acknowledge their feelings for each other and have become one TV’s favorite crime fighting couples.
However, Fillion’s and Katic’s behind the scenes relationship is pretty discouraging according to multiple sources. US Magazine reported in April 2016 that Katic would break down in tears in her dressing room due to Fillion bullying her. The two actors were even administered couples counseling.
Many fans suspect that Katic’s departure from the show had something to do with how Fillion treated her.
10 REESE WITHERSPOON (WATER FOR ELEPHANTS)
Sometimes there are factors mitigating the chemistry of a love scene that are beyond both the actors and the crews’ control. In Water for Elephants, Robert Pattinson’s troubled veterinary student hops a travelling circus train and falls in love with Reese Witherspoon’s dazzling performer, who’s also the ringmaster’s wife.
When it came time in filming to shoot the more intimate scenes between Pattinson and Witherspoon, Pattinson was in a pretty spoiling condition. “The love scene in [Water for Elephants]: I was doing it when I had a really bad cold,” he told MTV first in April 2011. "My nose is running all over the place, and it was in one of the additional photography scenes, and Reese had this wig on, and literally, I was wiping my nose on her wig."
Witherspoon also described the gross filming process to MTV, "he did have a very runny nose, yeah," she recalled, adding, "It wasn't appealing; it wasn't pleasant." At least it wasn’t personal.
9 VIRGINIE LEDOYEN (THE BEACH)
In Danny Boyle’s 2000 adventure flick The Beach Leo DiCaprio plays an American tourist who convinces a young French couple to seek out a mysterious island in Thailand. DiCaprio is smitten with Virginie Ledoyen’s Francoise right away, but it’s not until later in the movie that she takes up with him on the romantic island paradise.
There’s a dreamy, partially underwater scene where Ledoyen and DiCaprio go at it pretty passionately right on the shore at night, ripping each other’s clothes off in between kisses, with the stars shining overhead.
However according to Ledoyen, DiCaprio didn’t leave a good impression. “There [was] no honest passion. No real sensitivity in our love scenes. In our underwater love scenes all I could think of was not drowning. I can’t even remember his kiss.”
8 ALYSON HANNIGAN (HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER)
She and her husband Marshall Eriksen (played by Jason Segel) tend to be the more stable couple in the show, especially compared to Neil Patrick Harris’s flagrant aversion to romance and Josh Radnor’s hopeless romantic misadventures. Eriksen proposes to Hannigan in the pilot episode and the two grow as husband in wife throughout the series.
The two actors had behind the scenes hurdles to playing a couple, apparently. In Fall 2008, multiple entertainment outlets were reporting that Hannigan was reluctant to go through with scenes that called for her and Segel to kiss ever since the beginning of the show.
This was due to the fact that Hannigan was repulsed by Segel smoking. To Segel’s credit, he kicked the habit at Hannigan’s insistence, for part of the show’s run at least.
7 VANESSA HUDGENS (SPRING BREAKERS)
Spring Breakers was a dramatic departure from Vanessa Hudgens’ previous on-screen persona. In the film, the Disney Channel Starlet plays a reckless college girl who burglarizes a restaurant at gunpoint with her friends to fund their spring break misadventures. They’re caught and jailed, but then bailed out of prison by the shady enabling drug dealer played by James Franco.
Eventually in the film, Hudgens, Franco, and Ashley Benson end up having a threesome in a pool. Hudgens was apparently much more enthusiastic about kissing Benson than Franco. “I'd rather kiss Ashley than kiss James to be honest – because she's a girl and I was close to her and I felt comfortable. So I was like 'Yeah, I'll kiss Ashley!'”
As another interesting tidbit, Benson’s role was originally supposed to be played by Emma Roberts. However, Roberts dropped out upon learning that the script called for a threesome involving her character.
6 DENZEL WASHINGTON (THE PELICAN BRIEF)
The Pelican Brief is a unique entry on this particular topic. The movie itself was a 1993 adaption of a novel by bestselling thriller author John Grisham. Julia Roberts plays a law student who writes a legal brief about the assassination of two Supreme Court Justices. She brings the brief to her mentor played by Denzel Washington.
In Grisham’s novel, Roberts and Washington’s characters end up romantically involved, and Roberts even angled for Washington to get the part. However, Denzel was adamant about not going through with a romantic arc. It wasn’t anything against Julia Roberts personally.
According to Allison Samuel’s Book Off the Record,Denzel has consistently preferred to have on screen love scenes only with actresses of color to advance their visibility and validity in Hollywood. "Black women are not often seen as objects of desire on film. And they have always been my core audience."
5 LINDSAY LOHAN (SCARY MOVIE 5)
So long as there are popular genre movies, there will be long running parody series of popular genre movies. Paranormal Activity was riding the horror movie hype train in 2013, so naturally it’s the source of the send up for the opening scene for Scary Movie 5.
Charlie Sheen stars as the surveillance obsessed guy with a wall-to-wall porn collection, while Lindsay Lohan stars as a call girl he’s invited over for the night. Then there’s a sped up medley of sight gags, ballet choreography, clowns, body doubles, and horses crawling into beds.
The scene actually never shows Sheen and Lohan explicitly locking lips even as they climb into bed. That’s because Lohan made it a condition of her performance with the producers that she and Sheen wouldn’t actually kiss. According to TMZ, Lohan was so paranoid about Sheen’s partying reputation that both actors had to sign releases saying they didn’t have cold sores.
4 CANDACE CAMERON (FULL HOUSE)
Just like her Brother Kirk, Candace Cameron has refused to do any on screen nudity or sex scenes primarily due to her Christian beliefs. Also like her brother, she’s been known primarily for very wholesome roles like D.J. Tanner in Full House.
“What's very important to me is that it's family-friendly programming or there is some positive message, or something of value to take away from watching it,” Cameron told YourTango in an interview during late 2013. “I have boundaries that my husband and I talked about and are both comfortable with … If you watch anything I do, you'll see I don't go beyond kissing someone. I'm not going to get naked, and I'm not going to have sex scenes.”
Despite being a widow in the recent sequel series Fuller House and her personal beliefs, Cameron’s DJ Tanner has gotten more than a few smooches with various romantic interests in the new series. Plenty of viewers have spoken out, saying the new show is too far removed from the '80s type of family-friendly content.
3 NINA DOBREV AND IAN SOMERHALDER (VAMPIRE DIARIES)
The CW’s Vampire Diaries follows high schooler Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev) who gets entangled in the mystical adventures of two secret vampire brothers played by Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley.
Co-stars Dobrev and Somerhlder apparently got romantically involved pretty quickly. This was despite the fact that Dobrev’s character became romantically involved with Paul Wesley’s character instead of Somerhalder’s in the earlier part of the show itself. By season 4, Dobrev and Somerhalder had broken up behind the scenes, just as the show was having their characters hook up-- what are the chances.
There were plenty of rumors about harsh exchanges and uncertainty about the show’s future in 2013. Fortunately, Dobrev and Somerhalder were eventually able to maintain their working friendship, though they both objected to performing any more rainy kissing scenes.
Both actors lamented the cold and wet conditions of such a scene, with Somerhalder saying it made his jaw muscles freeze and Dobrev saying she got icicles in her hair.
2 RUPERT GRINT AND EMMA WATSON (DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2)
In the Harry Potter films, much of Hermione and Ron’s relationship builds to the dramatic moment when the two finally kiss in the midst of the Battle of Hogwarts. For many fans, it’s when the two finally acknowledge their feelings for each other.
For Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, however, it was an extremely awkward scene. The two actors had known each other since they were 9 and 10 years old, and had built such a strong platonic relationship that getting into the romantic rush of the scene was quite difficult.
Grint recalled in 2015, “I’ve known Emma since she was literally 9 years old and we had this very brother-sister relationship. And it just felt very surreal. I have a memory of her face getting closer and closer. Like, ‘Oh my God.’ I can’t really remember anything apart from that.”
Watson has also described some of the factors that made the scene hard for her; “Rupert’s … quiet so I didn’t really know what he was thinking which made me a bit more nervous.”
1 JULIETTE DANIELLE (THE ROOM)
It’s not unexpected that one of the most famously bad movies of all time has a dubious story behind the actors’ love scenes. The Room is legendary for its eccentric director/writer/star Tommy Wiseau, and all of the bizarre ways that his idiosyncrasies show up throughout the film.
Juliette Danielle was brand new on the acting scene when she arrived on the set of The Room. According to some accounts, the first softcore sex scene in the film between Danielle and Wiseau was shot on Danielle’s very first day of filming.
Wiseau apparently loved the first sex scene so much that he wrote a second one. However, Danielle was not comfortable with the prospect. It must have been awkward the first time, what with Wiseau being so adamant about getting real emotions out of his actors.
So, instead of shooting a new scene, the editors took unused footage from the first scene and cut it together to make the second. They had plenty to work with, considering the fact that the cast filmed six minutes’ worth of footage for the first sex scene and Wiseau wanted to use all of it for the film anyway.
Perhaps we'll get to see a rendition of this drama in the film adaptation of The Disaster Artist.
Did you know about the behind the scenes difficulties with each of these on screen couples? Did it weaken your suspension of disbelief? Let us know in the comments!