Raunchy sex scenes may set audiences’ hearts racing in the comfort of their cinema seats, but the reality for those starring in them is far from a glamourous turn-on.
From ‘vag pads’ and tight flesh-coloured pants to awkward stop-starts and lots of dry humping, life on set is not what many of us imagine it to be.
Natalie Dormer is the latest actress to reveal the truth about filming bedroom business, and refuses to believe that any actor feels comfortable with it.
The 33-year-old has had to strip off numerous times for the likes of Game of Thrones and The Tudors and has never found the experience anything close to enjoyable, despite what viewers might imagine.
“Anyone who says they’re laid back about sex scenes is a fibber,” she told Women’s Health. “It never gets any less…not traumatic, that’s the wrong word…not embarrassing…it can be a bit awkward.
“The choreography of sex scenes is so unsexy and unglamourous. It’s all about camera angles, you have to recreate the moment so many times. It’s just timing and technical.”
Dormer is far from the first to speak about sex on set. So how do others find the experience of getting their kit off in front of a roomful of cast and crew?
“You can literally be tangled in sheets and you turn to the other actor and say, 'What the f**k 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.”
“Filming a sex scene is not a sensual or pleasurable environment. It’s really hot - not in a steamy, sexual way. It’s just sweaty and not very comfortable. On top of that, my hands and legs were tied, I was blindfolded and I was being hit with this bizarre tool [in Fifty Shades of Grey]. It was emotionally taxing.”
“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.”
“I’ve always enjoyed sex scenes, though you’re not really supposed to. The classic answer is, ‘Oh, it’s not sexy at all because there are so many technicians standing around’. But I’ve always found them extremely arousing.”
“It’s always pretty awkward when you have to take your pants off in front of a crew and other actors. During the scene it’s fine, you don’t feel uncomfortable, but as soon as it’s cut and you’re standing around in your underwear, that’s when it’s weird and uncomfortable.”
Iconic sex scenes
Iconic sex scenes
1/11 Basic Instinct
Sharon Stone and Michael Douglas in Basic Instinct, famous for its graphic sex scenes and infamous 'leg-crossing' scene
Leonardo DiCaprio's hand in his Titanic sex scene with Kate Winslet is iconic in itself
3/11 Dirty Dancing
Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze dance to Solomon Burke's 'Cry To Me' in the Dirty Dancing sex scene
4/11 Bridget Jones' Diary
The 'absolutely enormous panties' moment between Bridget and Daniel Cleaver in Bridget Jones Diary
5/11 When Harry Met Sally
Meg Ryan faking an orgasm in the middle of a packed diner as Sally in 1989's When Harry Met Sally
6/11 American Beauty
Lester is enchanted by his daughter's best friend (Mena Suvari) in American Beauty
Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore's sex scene takes place at a pottery wheel
James McAvoy and Keira Knightley steam up the library in 2007's period romance Atonement
9/11 The Sessions
Helen Hunt having sex with a severely disabled man who's never had sex before in The Sessions
10/11 Hot Shots!
Charlie Sheen cracks an egg onto the stomach of love interest Valeria Golina in the 1991 spoof Hot Shots! Golina is so 'hot' the egg fries straight away and Sheen's character decides to add some bacon
11/11 Fifty Shades of Grey
Not so much one iconic sex scene as a whole movie full of them, Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan play Anastasia Steele and BDSM-loving billionaire in the big screen adaptation of EL James' erotic novels - prepare to get hot under the collar (while sporadically breaking into fits of giggles)
“Despite all that, ‘Oh Charlotte Rampling, you’ve stripped off so much in your life’ stuff, I’ve always thought that unless you’re into group sex, you don’t want to share those intimate moments with people watching.
“I stopped wearing the nude patch after the first season of Girls. There’s not one guy who works on that show who hasn’t seen the inside of my vagina. You glue it over your vagina. It gets sweaty and always falls off. My male co-stars, at the end of the day, don’t care.”
“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.”
Neil Patrick Harris
“We had to rehearse the [Gone Girl] sex scene, like every inch of it. ‘Then you put your mouth on his dick here and then this number of thrusts and then you ejaculate’.”
“There is that revoltingly embarrassing moment when you have to take your clothes off in front of strangers. But as with all things in life, the second you stop making it about you and you make it about everyone else, it just gets, dare I say, fun.”
“Your dignity is intact as much as it’s all tucked away in a little flesh-coloured bag. As a guy you put all your essentials in a little bag and you tie it up like a little bag of grapes and it’s tucked away.”
“It's only happened to me once,” he said of getting an erection on set. “A girl had to be on top of me, she had spectacular breasts and I hadn't rearranged my stuff into a harmless position. She's basically rubbing herself all over me and, um, it got a bit hard.”
Cavill “apologised profusely” afterwards (“It’s not great when you’re in a professional acting environment and somebody gets a b***r, is it?”) and insists there is nothing “sexy” about raunchy scenes: “All you’re doing is smacking your nuts against someone and nothing is going in.”
Perhaps we’ll stick with our run-of-the-mill office-based jobs after all.
Read the full interview with Natalie Dormer in the December issue of Women’s Health, out on 5 November
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- Jamie Dornan
- Fifty Shades of Grey
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