The truth about sex scenes from the actors who actually star in them

Sweaty, embarrassing, uncomfortable and above all, really, really awkward

Jess Denham@jess_denham
Wednesday 04 November 2015 11:44
If you thought Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan were actually turned on in Fifty Shades of Grey, think again
If you thought Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan were actually turned on in Fifty Shades of Grey, think again

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?

Kate Winslet

“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.”

Dakota Johnson

“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.”

Dakota Johnson with Jamie Dornan in BDSM movie Fifty Shades of Grey 

Mila Kunis

“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.”

Hugh Grant

“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.”

Liam Hemsworth

“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.”

Charlotte Rampling

“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.

Lena Dunham

“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.”

Rosamund Pike
“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.”

Rosamund Pike and Neil Patrick Harris in Gone Girl

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’.”

Anne Hathaway

“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.”

Jamie Dornan

“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.”

Henry Cavill

“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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