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C'mon People: Should Actors Do Real Sex Scenes?

Oct. 5, 2012by: Droz

Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Who wouldn't want to see that? Particularly if said sex involves hotties we really like. But let's think about this for a minute. Ever since sex started to creep into cinemas 40 or 50 years ago, there has been an unspoken yet mostly obeyed line in the sand between where films can and can't go with their sexual content. There are practical reasons for that line. There are also lingering ideas about what is appropriate to show and what isn't. Still, in the 21st century, are we ready to erase that line and accept some authentic sex? Would that really make a better film?

We all have our favorite sex scenes. Whether they feature stars we're particularly hot for, or show off generous amounts of skin, many of us have that one movie, or perhaps several movies, that make us drop the remote when we find them playing on cable. Most of us enjoy such sights, whether we admit it or not. Many eagerly anticipate that part of the movie or TV show when the hotties start to take it off and get down to business. So one could say that we're already sold on the idea of celebs having sex for us. However, despite any general openness to the idea we might have, society still imposes its barriers on how such things take place. First and foremost, we in the States have a ratings system. Other countries also have them. These ratings systems tend to be quite unrelenting when it comes to sex scenes. Basically, getting down to a certain degree of friskiness on screen gets your movie slapped with an NC-17 rating, which is pretty much the kiss of death for any movie, as theaters generally refuse to show NC-17 films.

There are also the lingering moral issues from when Hollywood was ruled by the Motion Picture Production Code, which were a strict set of regulations that limited the content of motion pictures made between 1930 and 1968 when the code had authority over Hollywood. This is why most of the films you see in that span feature no cuss words and little if any sexuality. That system is long dead, but the moral objections it represented still weigh heavily on the acting community. Basically, no one wants to alienate their audience by taking it too far. Despite the lack of any established moral code and the claim that "any publicity is good publicity," there does tend to be an unspoken code which makes many actors view explicit sex as simply not worth it.

Despite all those limitations, or perhaps even because of them, some actors in the last 30 years or so have started to open up to the idea of non-simulated sex scenes in an attempt to portray something genuine in the characters they play. At first, these performances were merely rumors, like with the infamous scene between Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie in the 1973 thriller DON'T LOOK NOW. Rumors from the set were that there was nothing simulated about the sex these two have in their scene together (you can view that highly NSFW scene here).

Later, more highly publicized sex scenes in films like THE BROWN BUNNY and ANTICHRIST moved away from rumor and into clear and obvious real sex. What those scenes did for the movies in which they appeared, or the actors that took part in them, is debatable. For some films, the attention they garnered by having sex for real was the only reason anyone remembers them, or the performances the actors gave. For other films, such sex was was something integral to the characters and the film. So the motivation of the film maker and the actor actually performing the act is a big part of whether real sex should even be considered.

However, one also has to consider basic human psychology and how we as human beings tend to put people into categories from which it can be quite difficult for them to escape. Just like how action stars find it difficult to crossover into historical dramas, there's a reason why your average porn star doesn't often break into the mainstream cinema. That's because when you're known for having sex, you quickly find yourself pigeon holed into a specific area of film making. So an actor might become the courageous breakthrough artist who brought real sex to the multiplexes, but that might not stop people from labeling them a pseudo-porn player who debases her or himself with real sex depictions. That could lead to horrible typecasting, or worse, no roles to play at all, which is the nightmare scenario for any actor.

The basic idea then is necessity. Do we need to make true sex a staple of film making? Aren't there certain sex acts better off implied than faithfully performed? Would Brando violating women with dairy products for real have added anything to LAST TANGO IN PARIS? Not really. Would Monica Bellucci's excruciating rape scene in IRREVERSIBLE be any more horrifying in its stark depiction if it wasn't just acting? I don't think so. Stuff like that is already intense enough as it is. I suppose if you value the idea of eliminating all remaining boundaries to an actor's ability to tell an authentic story, then true sex might do something to help along some actors' ability to own their part. However, many other actors would probably be more content to simply act like they're having sex.

And that gets down to a basic issue here. Actors don't need to go into space to play an astronaut, or travel back in time to play Abraham Lincoln. That's why they call them actors - they act. So they really don't need to participate in actual penetration to achieve authentic intimacy. No matter how method an actor might become for their art, there's always a clearly delineated line between the character and the person playing them. Sex is about the most real act one can engage in, which is why most actors seem content to keep actual sex strictly for themselves and their significant other, so they can go home at the end of the day and still feel like they've left the movie on the set.

So would I say that real sex is crucial to making a good love scene? No, not really. Depending on the movie, it could work or it could be a distraction. What really matters is in what context it's used and how freely the movie industry and the public at large accept people's right to engage in and view this material. As long as morally superior institutions, both official and unofficial, want to make our decisions for us, such intimate scenes will remain where they are now - on the periphery of cinema's more avant-garde outer reaches. If we can grow some maturity and allow people to see and do what they like, real sex in the movies might shed some of its taboo.

Source: Moviehotties

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5:18AM on 10/09/2012

Ass2Ass

When it seems that real, whats the difference really.
When it seems that real, whats the difference really.
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4:14AM on 10/06/2012

Stupid article, besides....

There are movies that have actors having real sex in them. We call it porn.
There are movies that have actors having real sex in them. We call it porn.
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2:09AM on 10/06/2012

hey...

this is a bullshit article, even if they did have real sex what would you want to see in a movie? actual penetration? go watch porn. Frankly I don't want to see real sex in movies, because it might ruin fantasy, what if the sex on screen is meh and the scene in my head is incredibly pornographic? Besides, it would just distract from the film and if it were acceptable then we'll see it get abused vis a vis 3D.
this is a bullshit article, even if they did have real sex what would you want to see in a movie? actual penetration? go watch porn. Frankly I don't want to see real sex in movies, because it might ruin fantasy, what if the sex on screen is meh and the scene in my head is incredibly pornographic? Besides, it would just distract from the film and if it were acceptable then we'll see it get abused vis a vis 3D.
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+3
12:31AM on 10/06/2012

@ Herald

I think it's in reference to the upcoming Lars von Trier film "Nymphomaniac." Shia LaBeouf recently had an interview about it while plugging Lawless, in which he said in the script that "The sex scenes would be REAL." LaBeouf said the idea of real sex in a film intrigued him, because it was daring and that von Trier scared him, and it was a rare thing for him as an actor. I personally don't get the appeal of it, as a movie goer, nor do I think I would as an actor. Some were intrigued by the
I think it's in reference to the upcoming Lars von Trier film "Nymphomaniac." Shia LaBeouf recently had an interview about it while plugging Lawless, in which he said in the script that "The sex scenes would be REAL." LaBeouf said the idea of real sex in a film intrigued him, because it was daring and that von Trier scared him, and it was a rare thing for him as an actor. I personally don't get the appeal of it, as a movie goer, nor do I think I would as an actor. Some were intrigued by the idea. Others were repulsed. But, I think that it's the controversy that surrounds the film and the fact that he intended to showcase actual sex in his film that inspired this column. For the record, I'm only speculating. Droz made no reference to the upcoming "Nymphomaniac" in the column, so I can't put words in his mouth and assume that was the basis, but if I were to guess...
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+1
9:23PM on 10/05/2012

@ Herald

I think it's in reference to the upcoming Lars von Trier film "Nymphomaniac." Shia LaBeouf recently had an interview about it while plugging Lawless, in which he said in the script that "The sex scenes would be REAL." LaBeouf said the idea of real sex in a film intrigued him, because it was daring and that von Trier scared him, and it was a rare thing for him as an actor. I personally don't get the appeal of it, as a movie goer, nor do I think I would as an actor. Some were intrigued by the
I think it's in reference to the upcoming Lars von Trier film "Nymphomaniac." Shia LaBeouf recently had an interview about it while plugging Lawless, in which he said in the script that "The sex scenes would be REAL." LaBeouf said the idea of real sex in a film intrigued him, because it was daring and that von Trier scared him, and it was a rare thing for him as an actor. I personally don't get the appeal of it, as a movie goer, nor do I think I would as an actor. Some were intrigued by the idea. Others were repulsed. But, I think that it's the controversy that surrounds the film and the fact that he intended to showcase actual sex in his film that inspired this column. For the record, I'm only speculating. Droz made no reference to the upcoming "Nymphomaniac" in the column, so I can't put words in his mouth and assume that was the basis, but if I were to guess...
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4:54PM on 10/05/2012

Context is Key

I am disgusted by the MPAA, and if actors only "act" takes where a punch connects should be removed from the final film. No one should actually eat a bug in a movie if it is "acting"
If is acceptable in an "R" rated film for an actor suck on an actress' nipples. This causes physical sensation, should he not merely 'act' as though her nipples are in his mouth. If the actress experiences any pleasure that is genuine should the take be removed? Ultimately the market will decide this
I am disgusted by the MPAA, and if actors only "act" takes where a punch connects should be removed from the final film. No one should actually eat a bug in a movie if it is "acting"
If is acceptable in an "R" rated film for an actor suck on an actress' nipples. This causes physical sensation, should he not merely 'act' as though her nipples are in his mouth. If the actress experiences any pleasure that is genuine should the take be removed? Ultimately the market will decide this question. That being said the film Shortbus tried this long ago. While I felt the intercourse was overused and in the end was more distracting than anything else, I still believe the film has one of the best love triangles ever...and when did someone say that about a film labeled as porn.
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1:27PM on 10/05/2012
only if its anal
only if its anal
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1:16PM on 10/05/2012
Ask yourself this question: would YOU be comfortable getting naked for several hours in front of a bunch of people you don't know while some stressed-out, coked up director is screaming at you "Do this! Do that!"? I've read interviews with actors who have said sex scenes are possibly the nastiest part of their job and they really hate doing them. I read an interview with Eva Longoria about how all her bathtub scenes for a season of Desperate Housewives were done in one day: bring in the other
Ask yourself this question: would YOU be comfortable getting naked for several hours in front of a bunch of people you don't know while some stressed-out, coked up director is screaming at you "Do this! Do that!"? I've read interviews with actors who have said sex scenes are possibly the nastiest part of their job and they really hate doing them. I read an interview with Eva Longoria about how all her bathtub scenes for a season of Desperate Housewives were done in one day: bring in the other actor, do the scene, reset, bring in the next actor, rinse, repeat. A whole day in an increasingly dirty bathtub doesn't sound like fun.

Not only that, doing sex scenes has hurt many actresses' careers. Chloe Sevigny got dumped by her agent after doing The Brown Bunny.
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3:04PM on 10/06/2012
Chloe Sevingy may have had to take a few minutes to find a new agent, but I would argue that doing 'The Brown Bunny' really didn't actually end up hurting her career. Since blowing Vincent Gallo she's done studio work like 'Zodiac', won a Golden Globe for her work on 'Big Love', and is on the new season on 'American Horror Story', among a bunch of other stuff. If anything I'd say her career has been better since, having worked with directors like Fincher, Woody Allen, Jim Jarmusch, Lars von
Chloe Sevingy may have had to take a few minutes to find a new agent, but I would argue that doing 'The Brown Bunny' really didn't actually end up hurting her career. Since blowing Vincent Gallo she's done studio work like 'Zodiac', won a Golden Globe for her work on 'Big Love', and is on the new season on 'American Horror Story', among a bunch of other stuff. If anything I'd say her career has been better since, having worked with directors like Fincher, Woody Allen, Jim Jarmusch, Lars von Trier, and Werner Herzog. Her agency may have thought her career would tank, but I'd say they were wrong.
+2
8:50AM on 10/05/2012
What's the basis for this column? Is there somewhere a debate that celebrities should do real sex scenes? Is there any reason why celebrities should be having real sex? You roughly use two lines of your whole essay on why real sex would benefit a movie, but it's mostly why people should't be doing it. So what's the point of this article?
What's the basis for this column? Is there somewhere a debate that celebrities should do real sex scenes? Is there any reason why celebrities should be having real sex? You roughly use two lines of your whole essay on why real sex would benefit a movie, but it's mostly why people should't be doing it. So what's the point of this article?
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7:17AM on 10/05/2012

I dunno.

Personally, my feeling is that if movies start showcasing real sex acts, it's just bridging the gap between regular film and porn. I suppose the only remaining difference would be that porn's are specifically written to showcase sex, whereas the film would have a sex act as a driving part of the story.
Personally, I find it reduces the level of art behind a film... Artistic skill. Sure, we can all just go around having sex... but having a super hot sex scene while not actually doing it
Personally, my feeling is that if movies start showcasing real sex acts, it's just bridging the gap between regular film and porn. I suppose the only remaining difference would be that porn's are specifically written to showcase sex, whereas the film would have a sex act as a driving part of the story.
Personally, I find it reduces the level of art behind a film... Artistic skill. Sure, we can all just go around having sex... but having a super hot sex scene while not actually doing it takes effort. And clever photography and editing.
I dunno. I don't personally like the idea and I don't think it would do anything to improve the experience.
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6:20AM on 10/05/2012
I don't think so. It's called 'acting' for a reason. I'm no prude and like seeing a hot actress in a movie as much as the next guy, but a large part of a film is that it appears that something is going on, when it really can be chalked up to movie magic. I know the logic here may not be flawless, but I think it's like when an explosion goes off in a film, nobody should get caught in it, or when somebody is shot in the head in a movie, it's all pretend too. If violence in movies isn't real, then
I don't think so. It's called 'acting' for a reason. I'm no prude and like seeing a hot actress in a movie as much as the next guy, but a large part of a film is that it appears that something is going on, when it really can be chalked up to movie magic. I know the logic here may not be flawless, but I think it's like when an explosion goes off in a film, nobody should get caught in it, or when somebody is shot in the head in a movie, it's all pretend too. If violence in movies isn't real, then should it be the same way with the sex? It's a personal thing really, and I hope I'm not being too naive or gauche in making this comparison, but that's just what I think.
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4:47AM on 10/05/2012

Eh...

This is a fuzzy area. I personally don't think there's any need for actual sex in a straightforward film. I think, without actually showing penetration, we're as close to having real sex scenes on film as we're gonna get. It's not really necessary to go a step further if they aren't going to show that, and that being said, I don't think they should show that. I think very few stars would be comfortable with that, and would consider that one step short of porn. God, just look at how many
This is a fuzzy area. I personally don't think there's any need for actual sex in a straightforward film. I think, without actually showing penetration, we're as close to having real sex scenes on film as we're gonna get. It's not really necessary to go a step further if they aren't going to show that, and that being said, I don't think they should show that. I think very few stars would be comfortable with that, and would consider that one step short of porn. God, just look at how many stars are uncomfortable with nudity. I mean, unless it's a directors decision not to show it (f**kin' Michael Bay), there are a lot of people out there doing love scenes that aren't comfortable being seen nude by the public. Really, why do we need to push the envelope here when there's not too much to be gained?
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4:41AM on 10/05/2012

DEFINITELY NOT

Yes, the thought of it being real is nice, but think of all the things that could happen. STD's could possibly be spread, hell, even accidental pregnancy, and I doubt a married actor or actress would feel good about doing that to their spouse and I doubt their spouse would be happy. It wouldn't add anything to the film, as in something that makes the film better, so screw it....No pun intended.
Yes, the thought of it being real is nice, but think of all the things that could happen. STD's could possibly be spread, hell, even accidental pregnancy, and I doubt a married actor or actress would feel good about doing that to their spouse and I doubt their spouse would be happy. It wouldn't add anything to the film, as in something that makes the film better, so screw it....No pun intended.
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3:30AM on 10/05/2012
Well sex is very taboo when it comes to Hollywood since it will always be considered pornographic in some ways. Most of the time in movies it's used for shock value & serves no purpose in carrying the plot of a movie. It still mind boggles me how sensitive we are when it comes to sex period, yet we seem to accept violence in every shape & form as a medium. If you think about it, it's the exact opposite in other countries. Many of them will show plenty of sex & nudity on their shows but not
Well sex is very taboo when it comes to Hollywood since it will always be considered pornographic in some ways. Most of the time in movies it's used for shock value & serves no purpose in carrying the plot of a movie. It still mind boggles me how sensitive we are when it comes to sex period, yet we seem to accept violence in every shape & form as a medium. If you think about it, it's the exact opposite in other countries. Many of them will show plenty of sex & nudity on their shows but not glorify violence as entertainment. They literally take the term sex sells serious. Plus when it comes to U.S standards you have the concept of AIDS & other STDs to reconsider, which played a huge part in our perceptions. Sex in movies was more common in 60s & 70s & that's just the way it is now with this PC culture of today, we just gotta live with it.
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