So many of us have dreamed of making out or getting romantic with our favorite movie stars, and we all wrongly suspect that they’re having the most incredible time kissing each other when we watch them locking lips on screen. As it turns out, though, nothing can be further from the truth.
Actors will tell you that on screen romance is usually among the most difficult, awkward, uncomfortable, and scary things an actor can be asked to do, especially with an entire film crew watching you, with cameras and boom mikes everywhere. (And we’re just talking about kissing – forget about sex scenes). Take, for example, Joanna Lumley, who got to make out with Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street. She stated that making out with actors on set is about as enjoyable as "snogging in a dentist’s waiting room" and added, "It’s actually no fun kissing actors, no fun at all. There are so many takes and you have to chew so much chewing gun."
In fact, cinematic history is full of kissing horror stories. Here’s a look at some of the most infamous times when actors were grossed out kissing their co-stars on screen.
Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis
How many men have dreamed of kissing Marilyn Monroe? Well, Tony Curtis was one of the lucky ones — he got to make out with Marilyn in the comedy classic Some Like It Hot – but when asked what it was like to be intimate with such a legendary Hollywood sex symbol, Curtis replied that it was like "kissing Hitler."
Curtis later disavowed what he’d said, stating, "I said it as a joke. I mean, it was such a darn stupid question, so I gave a stupid answer." Yet making out with Marilyn Monroe wasn’t exactly a dream come true, either — although he’d been facetious when he compared her to one of history’s most reviled figures, he went on to point out that when the cameras rolled, "[The kiss] was awful. She nearly choked me to death by deliberately sticking her tongue down my throat into my windpipe."
There go the fantasies of millions of men…
Jennifer Lawrence strikes fear on the set
Speaking of celebrities with bad breath, Jennifer Lawrence is also a member of this club as well. The secret got out when Liam Hemsworth spilled the beans on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Apparently, Lawrence likes garlic and tuna fish, a deadly combination for on screen romance.
Furiously backpedaling, Lawrence later responded, "I was never like, ‘Hey Liam, I just ate tuna and garlic on purpose!’ I just would happen to eat something. I didn’t change the way I was eating for the kissing, which is different than eating something on purpose. Is it worse?!" She added that if she was kissing Christian Bale or Bradley Cooper, she would definitely "brush my teeth. I’ll pop a mint." Apparently, Hemsworth didn’t make the cut.
It isn’t just current celebrities who have bad breath — rumors of stars with halitosis go all the way back to at least Clark Gable, with Vivian Leigh saying that on the set of Gone With the Wind, "his dentures smelled something awful."
A really awkward kissing situation with Leonardo DiCaprio
Kissing on screen is awkward enough, but it’s especially awkward when you have to do it in front of family or with a close friend. Many have wondered if there was any real-life romance between Leonardo DiCaprio and his frequent co-star Kate Winslet, but it was hard to get the sparks flying when her husband at the time, Sam Mendes, was directing the movie, 2008’s Revolutionary Road.
Never mind the fact that they’d starred together in Titanic, and having to stay afloat in a giant tank all day long isn’t real sexy. Neither is having to make out with your co-star with her husband watching from the director’s chair. "It was more that neither Sam nor Leo seemed the slightest bit bothered," Winslet recalled. "I was like, ‘Is it just me who feels a bit weird about this?’ You know. My friend. My husband."
Will Smith and Eva Mendes
There’s another serious occupational hazard when you’re kissing somebody in a movie: bad breath. Many celebrities are in the infamous bad breath club, and a good example was trying to capture Will Smith and Eva Mendes kissing in the comedy Hitch.
Mendes was nervous about kissing Smith, and she turned to her favorite comfort foods, tuna fish with tons of onions and Doritos. Needless to say, Smith didn’t dig it. Mendes then proceeded to down a ton of Altoids to get rid of the "stank breath special," and things went much more smoothly after that. (Smith was a diplomat in public, telling Oprah that kissing Mendes was "absolutely wonderful." We assume that was after the Altoids, though.)
Whatever it took to get through it, it apparently worked because an opinion piece on Entertainment Weekly recently hailed Hitch as "the greatest rom-com of all time," and Smith and Mendes also kissed each other at the film’s premiere, hopefully before Mendes ate any comfort food…
Kirsten Dunst: bad luck kissing Brad Pitt…
In Interview with the Vampire, Kirsten Dunst got to kiss Brad Pitt right as he was becoming one of the most desired men in America, and she got paid to do it. But she didn’t like the experience at all and reportedly didn’t kiss a boy again for another five years. Dunst was 11 at the time. "Everyone at the time was like, ‘You’re so lucky you kissed Brad Pitt,’ but I thought it was disgusting," she recalled. "I didn’t kiss anyone else until I was 16, I think. I was a late bloomer."
At the time, Dunst told Entertainment Tonight (via Cinema Blend), "I hated it so much because Brad was like my older brother on set and it’s kind of like kissing your brother. It’s weird because he’s an older guy and I had to kiss him on the lips, so it was gross." Years after the fact, Dunst stood by her quote and her initial impression that kissing Pitt was gross: "Yeah, it was gross! I stand by that. It would have been so much creepier if an 11-year-old was like, ‘It was great.’ You’d be like, ‘There’s something wrong with this child.’"
And Tobey Maguire…
It’s not easy to build up romance on the set of a superhero film. Morena Baccarin said that trying to kiss Ryan Reynolds in his Deadpool costume was like "kissing a giant latex condom," and Kirsten Dunst had trouble kissing Tobey Maguire on Spider-Man as well. In the 2002 movie, Dunst had to kiss Tobey Maguire as he was hanging upside down — except this was happening in the rain, and it filled up Maguire’s nostrils with water.
As director Sam Raimi recalled, "When he was doing the scene, I remember the water was falling down into his upside down nostrils, so he was kind of drowning. But it was a kissing scene. So he had to pretend like it was a pleasant, sweet moment for him, when in fact, he was semi-drowning." Maguire himself remembered, "I couldn’t breathe and I was gasping for breath out of the corner of Kirsten’s mouth. Poor girl. I was giving her mouth to mouth rather than kissing her. But in the midst of that, I was sneaking some pleasure out of it."
Wet and Sloppy With Tom Cruise
When working with Tom Cruise on Mission: Impossible 2, Thandie Newton recalled that kissing Tom Cruise was "slightly icky and sort of wet." Newton then rather bluntly stated, "I’d go home at the end of the day actually moaning."
She also spoke firsthand on how difficult it is to get romantic with a full production crew looming over you, making sure everything is just right: "You’re lying there, you’ve got 30 people around you, prodding all bits of you to make sure that certain things aren’t being seen and others look good." Newton also pointed out that the pitfalls of a kissing scene extend beyond slobbery garlic breath: "You can’t kiss too hard because then your face sort of spreads across the other person and it looks terrible. You find that you’re thinking more about whether or not you’re squashing him than kissing him."
Woody Allen’s Ridiculous Kissing Instructions
Another reason why on screen kissing isn’t authentic: It’s not spontaneous. Cinematic kisses often have to be planned out because of all the different camera angles involved. It’s an intricate task no matter who’s behind the camera, and you certainly won’t enjoy it if you’re working with Woody Allen, who, according to Helena Bonham Carter, was a total control freak mapping out her love scene in the indie comedy Mighty Aphrodite.
In addition to being the film’s director, it was Allen whom Bonham Carter was supposed to lock lips with. As Bonham Carter explained, "Allen tells you up front the certain ways of kissing he does not want. No exchange of liquid is permitted." (That sounds like a difficult criterion to meet.) Bonham Carter added, "It can be a bit offensive because he makes no effort at all. It’s like kissing the Berlin Wall." Trust us, kissing the Berlin Wall is no great fantasy for anyone.
Julia Roberts’ kissing trouble
Faking romantic chemistry on screen is incredibly tough, which is why actors make the big bucks. They can fool you into thinking they’re really into it, when nothing could be further from the truth.
Julia Roberts had trouble being the romantic foil to Nick Nolte in I Love Trouble because they both hated each other. Roberts called Nolte "completely disgusting," Nolte replied that Roberts was "not a nice person," and they refused to do many scenes together, with stand-ins performing them instead. Roberts and Nolte did indeed kiss in the film, but it was probably easier to negotiate peace in the Middle East than to get those two together for a love scene.
There were also reportedly problems with Roberts kissing her co-star Clive Owen on Duplicity because she loved peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. (To make Owen’s life easier, she started taking mints before kissing him.) But the biggest problem Hugh Grant had with Roberts when they were making Notting Hill was trying to get his lips around her mouth, which is apparently quite large. As Grant told Andy Cohen, "I’ve probably made too many jokes about the size of her mouth. She might hate me by now."
The awkward romance of Brokeback Mountain
Brokeback Mountain was a groundbreaking film that starred Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger as two gay men who can no longer deny their secret longing for each other, despite living in a time and place where such a relationship will not be tolerated. Great actors can convince you of anything, but the romantic scenes between Gyllenhaal and Ledger were rough going, to the point where Jake was injured when he and Heath tried to make out.
"Heath almost broke my nose in a kissing scene," Gyllenhaal recalled. "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 sh*t 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."
When kisses taste like dirt
Getting back to breath issues, Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller were in The Spectacular Now, where building believable onscreen romance was clearly rough going. As Teller explained, "I would be drinking a Gatorade right before a kissing scene. [Shailene] would be like, ‘Are you serious? You’re gonna kiss me after that?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I am.’ She would take these herbal supplements, and they tasted like crap. And she would always eat them right before we had a kissing scene!"
One time Teller told Woodley, "Shay, you just ate dirt," and she countered, "Miles, you just ate licorice," and so on. And as Miles devilishly confirmed, "We put stuff in our mouths so we could just offend each other." It doesn’t seem like this kind of exchange would leave anybody hot and bothered, so if they looked really passionate on screen, they deserve the Academy Award.
Rupert Grint and Emma Watson’s Harry Potter intimacy issues
Fans of the Harry Potter franchise spent a decade watching characters like Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, and more grow up before their eyes. Of course, that means the characters’ respective actors grew up together, all of which made things extremely awkward for Rupert Grint and Emma Watson when they had to kiss in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.
As Grint explained, "I never look back at that scene. I’ve known Emma since she was literally 9 years old and we had this very brother-sister relationship." Having to kiss Watson onscreen was "very surreal" for Grint: "I have a memory of her face getting closer and closer. Like, ‘Oh my God.’ I can’t really remember anything apart from that."
For her part, Watson said she "ended up pouncing on Rupert" to get it all over with.
Bradley Cooper gets low kissing score from JLaw
Bradley Cooper received bad marks in the kissing department from Jennifer Lawrence. While promoting the third Hangover film, Cooper confessed to Graham Norton that during the production of Silver Linings Playbook, Lawrence told him, "You’re a wet kisser." Cooper candidly admitted, "You don’t want to hear that. It was not a compliment." And given that Lawrence gets bad notices from her co-stars for her own smooching skills, that’s really got to hurt. (In addition to her alleged breath issues, former co-star Josh Hutcherson said that making out with JLaw was "very slobbery […] when we kissed it was just fluids.")
The great irony of all this? Cooper and Lawrence were nominated for Best Kiss at the MTV Awards, proving that A-list actors are more skilled than you realize at convincing us that they’re having a wild, passionate time on screen, when nothing could be further from the truth.
Ben Affleck’s kissing struggles
Another actor apparently in need of Altoids is Ben Affleck, at least according to Sandra Bullock. She reportedly diplomatically tried to offer Affleck breath mints when they were making out during Forces of Nature.
Aflleck also had difficulties kissing a man in the comedy Chasing Amy. He said that kissing a man can be "the greatest challenge an actor can ever face," and he added that "it was just difficult for me you know? And I didn’t think it would be. I really backed down from it in a way. I really could have done more of a committed job." He even told The New York Times, "The kiss is in there, but it looks like Tom & Jerry. It’s not anything good. I tried to go open-mouthed, but something in me was, "Take your tongue back.’ And I was like, ‘No, you can do it! Push!’ It was not my proudest moment."