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11 wild stories behind Hollywood kissing scenes: ‘Would you two mind if I say cut?’

From Tobey Maguire almost suffocating on the set of ‘Spider-Man’ to the actors who wouldn’t stop smooching when the director called ‘cut!’, Ellie Harrison looks back on some of the most intriguing backstories to onscreen kisses

Thursday 09 May 2024 06:00
Love scenes from ‘Total Recall’, ‘Cleopatra’, ‘Spider-Man’ and ‘Poetic Justice’
Love scenes from ‘Total Recall’, ‘Cleopatra’, ‘Spider-Man’ and ‘Poetic Justice’ (Sony, Getty, Columbia)

Whether it’s the chaste spaghetti kiss in Lady and the Tramp or Zendaya’s three-way tonsil tennis in Challengers, there’s a long and varied history of Hollywood kisses. You’ve got the scariest – seriously, Jim Carey, were you trying to eat Lauren Holly in Dumb and Dumber? The longest – a cramp-inducing six minutes and 44 seconds in Kids in America. The rainiest – Andie MacDowell and Hugh Grant in Four Weddings, don’t pretend you didn’t notice. And I’ll spare you the agony of going into the sloppiest here.

Sometimes, actors enjoy it. Margot Robbie said she improvised a smooch with Brad Pitt in Babylon, just because she wanted to. “I thought, ‘When else am I gonna get the chance to kiss Brad Pitt?’ I’m just going to go for it,” she confessed. Other times, they don’t like it so much. Emily Blunt revealed that kissing certain actors made her want to throw up. Nice.

To celebrate Hollywood kisses, good and bad, we’ve compiled a list of the ones with the wildest stories behind them. So, without further ado, get your laughing gear around these...

Three’s a crowd: Diana Rigg, George Lazenby and the garlic

Countess Teresa di Vicenzo might have been the only Bond girl to get 007 to the altar – but the actor did not get on well with her co-star George Lazenby.

Ever since On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was released in 1969, it has been rumoured that Dame Diana Rigg despised Lazenby so much that she deliberately ate garlic before her love scenes with him.

But according to Lazenby, this story was blown out of proportion. In a 1981 interview with 007 Magazine, he said: “That was another press thing that blew up in Pinewood. We were having lunch just before the love scene, and there were a lot of press around because they were invited that day. Diana Rigg was having lunch about four or five tables away and she yelled quite loudly, ‘I’m having garlic today George, I hope you are.’ You know, it was just a joke. They took it down as if she ate garlic so she could put me off…”

Diana Rigg and George Lazenby did not get along (Rex Features)

Lazenby, however, seems to have been the one who had fuelled the rumour originally, as Rigg wrote in her open letter to Daily Sketch in 1970: “I’m tired of reading those paranoid statements to the press… No, George, I did not eat garlic on purpose.”

Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire go upside-down

Kirsten Dunst has been open about her “miserable” experience filming the famous upside-down smooching scene in Spider-Man, the 2002 epic from Sam Raimi that helped usher in the blockbuster superhero era.

In the scene, which takes place in a New York alleyway, Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man is seen dangling upside-down from his web while locking lips with Dunst’s Mary-Jane Watson (who, naturally, is standing upright).

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“I remember Sam Raimi giving me a book of famous kisses to be inspired… he really wanted to make it special even though it was kind of miserable actually doing it,” Dunst revealed on The Jonathon Ross Show. “It was pouring with rain, freezing, Tobey couldn’t breathe so it was almost like I was resuscitating him.”

Tobey Maguire struggling to breathe while kissing Kirsten Dunst (Sony)

In another interview, Maguire said he was “practically suffocating” in the moment because rain was pouring down his nose, and had to take quick, short breaths out of the side of his mouth. He described filming the scene as “torture”, adding: “It makes you realise how important oxygen is.” Not so hot.

Tony Curtis said smooching Marilyn Monroe was like ‘kissing Hitler’

While filming Billy Wilder’s 1958 classic Some Like it Hot, Tony Curtis made his infamous remark that shooting a love scene with co-star Marilyn Monroe was “like kissing Hitler”.

This would imply that the pair couldn’t stand each other, but in his 2009 memoir, Curtis claimed that the two actors were actually lovers at the time, and that their affair resulted in Monroe’s pregnancy – although she later suffered a miscarriage. Both were married at the time, he to Janet Leigh and she to the playwright Arthur Miller.

Curtis claimed that it was while they were confessing to Miller that Monroe surprised them both with the news that she was pregnant. “I was stunned,” Curtis wrote. “I just stood there. The room was so silent that I could hear tyres screeching on Santa Monica Boulevard.”

Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in ‘Some Like it Hot’ (Rex Features)

It also turned out the “kissing Hitler” remark was taken out of context. During a Guardian interview at BFI Southbank, Curtis explained: “Someone said to me, ‘Hey, what’s it like kissing Marilyn?’ I said, ‘It’s like kissing Hitler. What are you doing asking me such a stupid question?’ That’s where it came from.”

Colin Farrell’s discomfort at kissing the director’s wife – Kate Beckinsale

In the 2012 action movie remake Total Recall, Colin Farrell and Kate Beckinsale shared plenty of fight scenes, but they also had to kiss. This was not ideal, because Beckinsale was married to the director of the film at the time, Len Wiseman, leaving Farrell feeling a little awkward.

Farrell and Beckinsale promoting ‘Total Recall' (Getty Images)

“She’s actually the director’s wife. She’s married to the director. [It was] moderately uncomfortable,” he told Conan O’Brien. “Kissing her was a little bit dodgy ‘cause the director, her husband, wasn’t kind enough to leave the room.”

In another interview, he went further, calling it “one of the more uncomfortable things I’ve experienced in 15 years of making films”.

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton could not be stopped

When Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor worked together on the set of Cleopatra in 1963,

Taylor was on her fourth marriage, to Eddie Fisher, and Burton had been married to his wife Sybil for 14 years. Let’s just say the marriage didn’t last long after that.

Where the love affair began: Burton and Taylor on the set of ‘Cleopatra’ (Getty Images)

As revealed in Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger’s book Furious Love, when it came to the pair’s kissing scenes, they completely ignored the director calling “cut!”: “In their first deep kiss, in Cleopatra’s boudoir… Burton found himself caught up, almost drugged, in her presence. They repeated the scene several times, their kiss lasting longer with each take. Finally, [director Joseph] Mankiewicz shouted, ‘Print it’ – but the scene continued. ‘Would you two mind if I say cut?’ he asked again. And then, ‘Does it interest you that it is time for lunch?’”

From there, the two stars began an affair that destroyed both their marriages and would go on to become one of the wildest, most tumultuous relationships in Hollywood history.

Heath Ledger nearly broke Jake Gyllenhaal’s nose

Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal’s portrayal of cowboy lovers in Ang Lee’s 2005 romance Brokeback Mountain was groundbreaking at the time – and it turns out it was nearly nose-breaking, too.

Gyllenhaal and Ledger in the groundbreaking ‘Brokeback Mountain’ (Paramount)

Gyllenhaal told Digital Spy in 2004: “Heath almost broke my nose in a kissing scene. He grabs me and he slams me up against the wall and kisses me. And then I grab him and I slam him up against the wall and I kiss him. And we were doing take after take after take. I got the s*** beat out of me. We had other scenes where we fought each other and I wasn’t hurting as badly as I did after that one.” Sore, yes, but worth it for a film with such a powerful legacy.

Reese Witherspoon and a runny-nosed R-Patz

Nothing quite kills the chemistry like a snotty nostril. And in the 2011 romance Water for Elephants, this is what Reese Witherspoon had to contend with.

In an interview with MTV News, she admitted she had been really dreading kissing co-star Robert Pattinson, as he was suffering from a cold at the time. “He did have a very runny nose, yeah,” she said. “It wasn’t appealing; it wasn’t pleasant.”

R-Patz and Witherspoon promoting ‘Water for Elephants' (Getty Images)

Pattinson agreed. “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.” Charming.

Jennifer Lawrence told Bradley Cooper he was a “wet kisser”

Poor Bradley Cooper. The last thing you want to hear after locking lips with someone is that your kiss was too sloppy. And this was the feedback he got on the set of the 2012 film Silver Linings Playbook, which starred Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence as two people, struggling with mental illness, who help each other heal and start to fall in love as they train for a dance contest.

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ (Moviestore/Shutterstock)

After starring with Jennifer Lawrence in the film, Cooper revealed on The Graham Norton Show that Lawrence did not enjoy smooching him. “After the second take, she said, ‘You’re a wet kisser.’ You don’t want to hear that. It was not a compliment.”

The kiss between Tupac and Janet Jackson that was meant to be something more

In the 1993 film Poetic Justice, Tupac Shakur and Janet Jackson share a quick peck. But they were always meant to go to fourth base. Things turned sour, though, when Jackson’s team asked Shakur to take a HIV test for the simulated sex scene.

In an interview with The Source, Shakur explained why he was upset. “I said, ‘If I can make love with Janet Jackson, I’ll take four Aids tests. But if I’m gonna do a love scene with her just like somebody else did, and they didn’t take a test, I’m not taking a test. Not only am I not taking the test, but get out of my trailer.”

Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur in ‘Poetic Justice’ (Columbia/Kobal/Shutterstock)

The love scene was canned, and in the end the stars had just one onscreen kiss in the movie.

Tom Cruise forgot his lines – so he just kissed Kelly McGillis instead

In the 1988 sunkissed classic Top Gun, Tom Cruise’s naval aviator Maverick gets the hots for Kelly McGillis’s instructor Charlie. In one climactic scene after she’s chased him down the road in her car, with the unmistakably Eighties soundtrack of Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” building in the background, she tells him she’s falling for him.

Cruise and McGillis go for a ride in ‘Top Gun’ (Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock)

Maverick was supposed to say something in response, but Cruise – just 23 years old at the time – forgot his lines, and decided to just make out with McGillis instead. Rewatching the scene, you can see an awkwardly long and perplexed pause from the young Cruise before he lunges. Director Tony Scott liked the moment so much that he ended up keeping it in the final cut of the film. Whether McGillis was a fan of this surprise smooch remains a mystery.

Bill Murray surprised Scarlett Johansson with a kiss

In the 2003 Oscar-winning drama Lost in Translation, Bill Murray played a washed-up movie star who meets Scarlett Johansson’s lonely young newlywed living in Tokyo. As the pair say goodbye at the end of the film, they share long embrace that ends with a kiss.

Johansson, Murray and Coppola at a ‘Lost in Translation’ screening at the Venice Film Festival (Getty Images)

Director Sophia Coppola later revealed in an interview that the kiss was not in the script. “It was always meant to be this tender goodbye where they both knew that they had touched each other in some way,” she told The Daily Beast in 2017. “And I remember sometimes he would always spring things on her, and it was fun to get her reaction.” Johansson obliges in the film, and Coppola seems to remember it as a sweet moment. But a man 34 years Johansson’s senior, springing a kiss on her out of nowhere? It’s not exactly a story that’s aged well...

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