What it’s REALLY like to do a sex scene…

  • Marie Claire is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.
  • Flesh-coloured thongs, dry humping and vagina patches.

    And these actors and actresses are more than willing to open up about the reality of shooting those intimate scenes… That 9-5 office job isn’t looking quite so dull now, is it?

    The latest star to discuss the cons and… cons of filming a sex scene is Nicole Kidman. In the new issue of Interview Magazine, she talks about the fine line between acting and taking on a vulnerable character, and actually getting hurt.

    ‘Actors have to protect each other in a way,’ she tells director Lee Daniels in response to his comment that John Cusak threw her around ‘like a mop’ when filming The Paperboy.

    ‘The idea of humiliating another actor or being humiliated myself is devastating. So that’s why, if he’s a little rougher than he knows he’s being, the last thing I want to say is, ‘Oh my gosh, you hurt me’. Most actors are like that. We all go, ‘No, no. I’m fine. Don’t worry about it.’ Because that’s how you release into things and find stuff. If you’re tentative and scared that you’re hurting someone or that you’re overstepping a line or that there’s a boundary that you’ve crossed, it makes everybody too cautious.’

    ‘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,’ Lena Dunham.

    ‘I never understand when people say, “Sex scenes are so mechanical; it doesn’t feel like anything.” It feels like someone fucking you! It’s confusing.’ Lena Dunham

    ‘Carol is aggressively and sexually talking to Phil – that’s a lot of diaphragm work, which is also in the danger zone of where the beans are… Finally I just looked at Will and I was like, “I’m gonna fart on you.” And I did. If you fart on your scene partner it’s the most intimate you can get.’ Kristen Schaal on farting on co-star Will Forte during a sex scene in Last Man on Earth.

    ‘There is always a particularly large and hairy man holding a boom wearing a crop top. I don’t know if they’re like, “Ooh, sex scene, where’s my crop top because I need to hover above Olivia, make sure my hairy belly is somewhere in the vicinity of her face.” People imagine it’s this really glamorous and sexy thing, but I always laugh because in reality there are 50 people in the room. You are stopping and starting. There is someone yelling, like, “Can you move your hand, can you just put your shoulder down, OK, good, more, more…”‘ Olivia Wilde, on sex scenes in general

    ‘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 it’s not very comfortable. And on top of that, my hands and legs were tied, and I was blindfolded, and I was being hit with this bizarre tool. It was emotionally taxing. At first I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is the worst thing ever,’ and then I was like, “All right, let’s get on with it.”‘ Dakota Johnson, on Fifty Shades of Grey

    ‘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,’ Jamie Dornan, on Fifty Shades of Grey

    ‘Sex scenes can be quite awkward. As a guy, the first thing you want to do is make sure you’re not taking advantage. You don’t want the girl to feel like you’re getting a free feel or something. I try to make a fool of myself in one way or another to lighten the mood and then just go for it, because you don’t want to be doing take after take.’ Michael Fassbender, on Jane Eyre

    ‘It happens. It doesn’t happen that frequently because there are a lot of people on set, and it can be very technical, but it happens from time to time. Yeah! As a matter of fact, in the first scene we ever had, where Gabriella and John first had sex, we were rehearsing and then the director was like, “OK, get out of bed, we have to reset the set”, and I was like, “I need a minute.”‘ Jesse Metcalfe, on Desperate Housewives

    ‘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, Gone Girl

    ‘We had to rehearse the sex scene with David [Fincher], like every inch of it. “Then you put your mouth on his dick here, and then this number of thrusts, and then you ejaculate.” He doesn’t want a lot of reinterpretation once you start rolling.’ Neil Patrick Harris, on Gone Girl

    ‘We like it to be realistic but not real, but I wear something I call the ‘vag pad,’ it’s kind of a little triangular panty liner that you stick to you.’ Emmy Rossum, on Shameless

    ‘There is that revoltingly embarrassing moment when you have to take your clothes off in front of strangers. I mean, I don’t go to the beach in a bikini for a reason. So I thought, “OK, I’m going to be in control. I’m going to do everything properly, disrobe at the last minute, and in between shots get the clothes back on.” But then I found that every time I put my robe back on, it rubbed all the body make-up off, and that added 20 minutes to filming. As with all things in life, the second you stop making it about you and you make it about everyone else, it just got, dare I say, fun.’ Anne Hathaway, on Love and Other Drugs

    ‘I had a couple of days talking to wardrobe and make-up to get ready to rig the thing that I wore for the ass motorboating. It was an engineering achievement! I would manufacture it if more than one person a year needed it. It was so elaborate – it involved Spanx that we cut away and glued down and involved menstrual pads and two of those weird thongs. I’ve had to do scenes like this twice now.’ Allison Williams, on that rimming scene in Girls

    ‘I just start by apologizing… I think somebody told me, and I’m not sure who the actor was. I think it was Sir Laurence Olivier who said it, but… I always use Sir Laurence. When in doubt, use Sir Laurence Olivier. I think he said something to the effect of, “I apologize if I get aroused and I apologize if I do not get aroused.” And you have to say it with the accent if you do it. But there is sort of always this awkward state of, is this OK, is that OK? And then in between it’s like, just, let’s act like nothing happened. And then you see how good of an actor you really are.’ Ashton Kutcher, on No Strings Attached

    ‘You have 20 crew members who are also watching you do it, and of course, for me, I woke up that morning and had a giant pimple on my ass! I had to go to the make-up artist, who I had also met that week, “Can we go into the other room and you’ll put make-up, literally, on my ass?”‘ Dave Franco, on Neighbours

    ‘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.’ Mila Kunis, on Black Swan

    ‘The hardest thing about sex scenes is that everybody is a judge. I don’t know the last time you murdered somebody or blew anyone’s brains out, but everyone has had sex and probably this morning, which means everyone has an opinion on how it should be done.’ Michael Douglas, on Behind the Candelabra

    ‘I will be lying there, kind of being slammed by a naked body, thinking, “I want out of this bed. I want out of this scene. I want out of this life. Who did this to me?” And I realized, I’m my own boss. I’ve written it. I’m directing it. I’m the person holding myself in sexual slavery.’ Lena Dunham, on Girls

    ‘It’s like running in the rain. There’s a certain point when you go, “Fuck it, I’m already wet. I’m not going to get any less wet, so I might as well just enjoy how this feels.” I mean, sure, there’s awkwardness about being in a weird flesh-colored thong, bouncing on top of an actress. I am not a small human being. I weigh at least 200 pounds and I’m six-foot-two. And Wiig is a twig; she’s a skinny little thing. It’s weird and uncomfortable at first, but then all the awkwardness melts away and you think, All right, we’re doing this, so let’s have fun with it. You know what I mean? You’re in that moment and it’s happening and it’s not going to get any better, so you might as well enjoy it.’ Jon Hamm, on Bridesmaids

    ‘Actors become very professional and proficient about watching out for each other’s light and not stepping on each other’s lines. All of these things are artificial, and you have to strip that away if you’re going to achieve a sense of intimacy. In real life sex is messy…’ Ryan Gosling, on Blue Valentine

    ‘It’s actually kind of annoying, you’re there for 12 hours, it’s exhausting.’ Justin Timberlake, on sex scenes in general

    ‘You kind of suddenly feel this strange thing of asking people to participate in anything like that because they’re not a real couple. You find out how strange this is to ask anybody to get naked together and put a camera on them,’ Angelina Jolie, on directing sex scenes in the Land of Blood and Honey

    In fact, it seems no one at all enjoys filming sex scenes. That is, except for 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.’

    You’ve got to admire the man’s honesty.

    Reading now