Actors are usually paid to... well, act. They are professional artists whose job involves turning themselves into a person they aren't, to the amazement of fans and moviegoers around the world. When it comes to shooting the ever-embarrassing love scene, these stalwart professionals throw back a shot of tequila (if needed) and get to work simulating intercourse. At least, that's how it usually goes down.
These people show up to work and while they may be friendly with their coworkers, they aren't accustomed to bumping actual uglies with them so love-making is awkwardly simulated either with body doubles or good lighting, sound editing, and camera tricks. Then there are the entries on this list.
Rumors have been kicking around Hollywood for years about how some scenes weren't as simulated as we were led to believe. While some have confirmed their acts were genuine, others have denied it over the years. We wanted to know for sure so we sat through hours of these films, read the gossip rags, and found interviews revealing what truly went down between the sheets on set.
After a great deal of study, we finally came up with these 15 Times 'Love' Scenes On Screen Were Real.
15 LITTLE ASHES (2008)
Just because you aren't making love with another person, doesn't mean you aren't making love... right? Well, whatever your take on that happens to be, we can thank Robert Pattinson for going all-out for his performance as Salvador Dali in Little Ashes, earning him a place on this list.
The movie holds a rating of 24% on Rotten Tomatoes so it's ok if you haven't seen it. If you did want to get a glimpse of Pattinson's actual O-Face, you might want to check out the flick because he went for authenticity in this one.
Prior to filming a love scene with another man, Pattinson decided the best way to get ready was to self-pleasure on camera. To be fair, the camera didn't expose the actual act, but rather, his face. He told Interview magazine, "I pleasured myself in front of the camera. My orgasm face is recorded for eternity.”
Most actors would have just gone for the acting route, but Pattinson didn't want to disappoint and his O-Face has been recorded for all to see.
14 CALIGULA (1979)
This cinematic gem stars the talents of Malcolm McDowell, Helen Mirren, Peter O'Toole, and a lot of adult film actors. Caligula is credited as one of the worst movies ever, though the performance by McDowell was received rather well considering the nature of the movie.
People were disgusted as they walked out of the theaters across the country and the uncut version of the film is still banned in a number of nations across the world. Besides the overall graphic nature of the film and the depictions of depravity, there are about five minutes of uncensored copulation.
Originally, Caligula was meant to be a political satire, but when the producers got a hold of it, they decided to change it considerably. They wouldn't let the director, Tinto Brass, edit his own film after he refused to shoot the love scenes. They took it, added the explicit material, and turned it into a pornographic drama. For the explicit scenes, Penthouse Pets were cast as extras while adult entertainers were brought in solely for the sex.
13 THE BROWN BUNNY (2003)
When Brown Bunny premiered at Cannes, it caused quite an uproar. The film was written, produced, shot, edited, and directed by Vincent Gallo and starred his then ex-girlfriend, Chloë Sevigny. Film critic Roger Ebert described it as the "worst film in the history of Cannes" and even quipped that the video of his colonoscopy was better, but later gave it a "thumb's up" after it was edited... a lot.
The controversial scene, and likely the only one many people ever bothered watching, was a close-up oral sex scene in which Sevigny clearly performs fellatio on Gallo.
Gallo took a lot of heat for the film, but not so much for the oral sex scene. The movie was so widely panned, his edit ended up cutting a whole 25 minutes off the final cut. Sevigny was cast the following year in a starring role on HBO's Big Love, so her career wasn't damaged at all.
12 DON'T LOOK NOW (1973)
There is a sex scene in the film Don't Look Now that appears so real, it has long been rumored to be unsimulated. Julie Christie has been coy about it having never fully come out and said whether or not the scene was real. The closest she has come to revealing what happened came in an interview in 2015 where she said, "I loved the squirming bits and all those things you don’t see. It was just flesh squirming and rolling and touching, and God I thought it was absolutely lovely."
Donald Sutherland has denied the rumors all along, but in a recent book written by former Paramount Executive Peter Bart, he claims he watched the scene being filmed and confirms the two actors were indeed engaged in penetrative sex. This is a he-said-she-said that has been plaguing Hollywood since 1973 and it is one of the steamiest sex scenes ever filmed, making it a great addition to this list.
11 NINE SONGS (2004)
Nine Songs is a British film written and directed by Michael Winterbottom. The film is a modern love story set in England, featuring one year in the relationship between Kieran O'Brian's Matt, a climatologist, and Margo Stilley' Lisa, a foreign exchange student from America.
When the film was showcased at the Cannes Film Festival, it created quite an uproar due to its explicit sex scenes. Everyone involved in the production freely admitted that the two leads didn't simulate a single thing when they had sex on set.
The movie has been called the most sexually explicit mainstream film to date and it is entirely due to the wealth of sexual acts depicted. In addition to traditional sex, the two partook in oral pleasure as well, but the biggest upset to unsuspecting movie goers was the scene of O'Brien climaxing on screen.
When asked in interviews about the sex, the stars spoke about it freely admitting they used condoms for vaginal penetration, but otherwise, the two got very close indeed.
10 LOVE (2015)
It shouldn't come as a surprise that a movie titled Love is all about the subject of this list.
Love is a French 3D romantic drama that could best be described as exquisitely well-made adult film, but only because of the presentation in 3D. While there is explicit sex shot throughout the film, it does follow a story involving a threesome between an American cinema school student, his French girlfriend, and a Danish teenage transgender woman.
The film didn't shy away from full-frontal nudity and showed close-up shots of the actors' genitalia, included oral and vaginal sex, and even showed ejaculation.
The Daily Beast described the film as "The Most NSFW Movie of the Year", which is pretty accurate. The movie didn't need to be shot in 3D; that was mostly a gimmick, but it does hover over the line of what is art and what is pornography fairly well.
9 BAISE-MOI (2000)
We tried to limit this list to only one French film, but frankly, that was an impossible task. Baise-Moi translates roughly into "F--k me".
Given a title like that (Some markets titled it as Rape Me, which was rejected by the directors), it should come as no surprise that we had to throw it up here on this list. The sex scenes in this film are unsimulated, explicit, and horribly violent.
The film was banned in markets across the world, including Canada and Singapore alongside many others. In the States, it was rebranded Kiss Me and released without a classification from the MPAA. As for the sex scenes, the film features oral and vaginal sex, but one of the director told the Sunday Times, "The movie is not for masturbation, so it's not porn." If you say so.
8 SWEET SWEETBACK'S BADASSSSS SONG (1971)
Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song was the first major entry into the genre that would be called "Blaxploitation" films. Melvin Van Peebles plays the title character, who is a poor black man trying to escape from white authority.
Peebles performed all of his own stunts for the film as well as taking part in several unsimulated sex scenes. Sex and nudity are prevalent throughout the film, to the point that the opening scene stars a 13-year old version of the main character (played by Mario Van Peebles) having sex with a prostitute.
Peebles' participation in the film earned him entry into the Director's Guild, which allowed him to file a worker's compensation claim for an injury he obtained on the job. The injury in question he ended up filing for: an unnamed STD.
Venereal diseases aside, Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song is a cult classic and holds an important distinction given its creation of the Blaxploitation genre.
7 LIE WITH ME (2005)
Lie With Me is a Canadian drama film featuring more than 20 minutes of unsimulated sex scenes involving stars Lauren Lee Smith and Eric Balfour. The film debuted at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival, where it wasn't received well.
The explicit sex shown on screen wasn't nearly as poorly received as the long, drawn out and overly sentimental ending. The film currently holds a 38% on Rotten Tomatoes so it's not considered one of the best movies to come out in 2005.
When it comes to sex scenes, the film opens on the star masturbating while watching adult films. She then goes to a bar and her love interest. Eventually, the two get together and they have sex. A lot. There are close-up shots of cunnilingus as well as just about anything else a couple of people can do with one another.
6 THE IDIOTS (1998)
Lars von Trier has never been one to shy away from controversy and the only reason his film, Nymphomaniac isn't on this list is because the stars used body doubles for their unsimulated scenes. That's not the case for The Idiots, which is a tale of adults who choose to act developmentally challenged so they can liberate themselves from the bourgeois complacency of society. One of the ways they provoke society is by having group sex.
The group sex scenes in this film are neither unsimulated nor are they obscured (much). When the film was released in the States, an erect penis was digitally obscured, but outside the country, the penis is erect for the world to see. This created some problems around the world, and the typical bans and ratings debacles ensued.
Romance is yet another entry by our friends in France who seem to have a handle on portraying sexuality on film. Romance is an art house film that stars one of adult entertainment's best known male actors, Rocco Siffredi, so they weren't digging too deep in the talent pool of actors who were willing to engage in sex on camera.
The film features numerous explicit scenes of copulation, inlcuding with Siffredi and Caroline Ducey, a popular French actress who has starred in more than 30 films.
The story revolves around a woman who seeks sexual pleasure outside of her relationship due to her boyfriend's unwillingness to perform. She has sex with multiple partners and even engages in sadomasochism. The film received a XXX rating in parts of Canada, though it was edited and reduced to a paltry R rating in the United States.
4 LAST TANGO IN PARIS (1972)
Last Tango in Paris is an erotic drama starring Maria Schneider and Marlon Brando.The film is about a recently widowed American man (Brando) who engages in a sexual relationship with a young woman in Paris (Schneider).
It has been notorious for a particular scene involving butter that had been rumored to be unsimulated for years. It was only confirmed recently that parts of the film were unsimulated and when it came out in 1972, it was controversial, to say the least. The portrayal of sexual violence and the subsequent emotional turmoil created such controversy, the film was rated X in the United States before the MPAA changed it to NC-17 in 1997.
The scene that caused the controversy involved a violent anal rape utilizing butter as a lubricant. Schneider even said on more than one occasion that she "felt raped" in reality by doing the scene, which was simulated; Brando didn't actually penetrate her, but the film's director was brought up on obscenity charges in Italy for the scene.
3 PERFORMANCE (1970)
Performance is a British crime drama starring James Fox, Mick Jagger, and Anita Pallenberg. The film was Jagger's acting debut and it was sexually explicit, which caused some problems for the film's release.
Performance is considered a cult classic and was even voted the 48th greatest British film of all time by the British Film Institute. As for the unsimulated sex, it reportedly occurred in a scene with Jagger and Pallenberg, who was dating Keith Richards at the time. Richards apparently believed it, and would stand guard outside the set out of jealousy.
When the film was shot in 1968, it faced so many problems with the studio, one executive at Warner Bros. wanted to destroy the negative. The studio thought they were getting a Rolling Stones version of The Beatles A Hard Day's Night and they were not pleased to see an artistic and experimental film depicting graphic violence and sexuality.
2 INTIMACY (2001)
Intimacy is a story that somewhat riffs on Last Tango in Paris by focusing on the relationship between a man and a woman whose only interactions involve anonymous sex.
Of course, the sex in the film is unsimulated, which is why we are talking about it here, but it does involve some actors who you wouldn't expect to see in such a film. New Zealander Kerry Fox performs fellatio on her costar, Academy Award-winner Mark Rylance, onscreen and unsimulated, which may have been the reason her career stalled after the film.
The purpose of the film is to make the audience rethink how they see scenes like this in film and to question the concept of intimacy. It does that to some extent, but really, it's yet another film including copious and graphic sex scenes for the purpose of art.
1 SHORTBUS (2006)
John Cameron Mitchell's Shortbus is all about sex-positivity so you can imagine there is a lot of the kinky stuff going on. The film attempts to show positive depictions of unsimulated sex between all manner of people. There is hetero and homosexual sex as well as threesomes and much more. There isn't a lot held back from the camera in this one, including long shots of cunnilingus as well as men ejaculating upon one another. It's all in there.
The director even went down on a woman in one scene to ensure her orgasmic reaction he was filming was real so there was nothing spared in the authenticity portrayed in this film. As it's presented, the sex isn't depicted for shock value... and if seeing such acts doesn't shock you, all the better.
It does a good job of portraying sexuality for the purpose of positively portraying it and it makes for a compelling film.
Do you think there's value to movie "love" scenes being real? Let us know in the comments!