These A-listers describe what really happens when you pretend to have sex surrounded by bright lights and a crowd of crew members.
Nicole Kidman: 'Emotionally taxing'
Ian Harding: 'Demanding'
Pretty Little Liars star Ian Harding delved into details of sex scene prep in his 2017 memoir Odd Birds. Harding admitted that shooting steamy scenes for the series was generally awkward, and that it was the “only” time actors would avoid snacking and instead head to their dressing rooms to do push-ups.
He also wrote about constantly having to shave to achieve a “smooth, porpoise-y chest” for the show, and how he “flossed at least three times” and “gargled between every take” when it came time to film a makeout scene in the pilot.
Lucy Hale: 'Relaxed'
Kirsten Dunst: 'Long'
When Kirsten Dunst filmed an intense love scene with Colin Farrell for their film, The Beguiled, she had one question in mind: Are we done yet? “I am on the floor and my clothes are being ripped,” Dunst explained to E! News at CinemaCon.
“I don’t like it, I don’t like it. To be honest, I’m like, ‘Let’s get this over with as fast as possible.’” Luckily, she said, director Sofia Coppola understood her complaints, and moved as quickly as possible.
“At least Sofia’s like, ‘We’re going to get this done quick, we’re just gonna shoot it here, we’ll do three takes, be done.’"
Jamie Dornan: 'Challenging'
While filming a steamy scene in Fifty Shades Darker, Jamie Dornan revealed that the reality was … the opposite of sexy.
“The spreader bar, they made that,” Dornan (a.k.a. Christian Grey) told PEOPLE of a memorable device referenced in the books and put into the film. “They were actually really struggling to get their hands on that.”
As the toy was invented by the author and doesn’t exist, the prop department had to get creative and make it themselves.
“It didn’t work a couple of times and held us back a little bit,” Dornan said. “It didn’t quite achieve what we wanted it to achieve, but when it mattered it worked, so it was all good.
Jennifer Lawrence: 'Anxiety Inducing'
Viola Davis: 'Empowering'
The actress has no qualms about filming steamy scenes – as long as they’re realistic as possible.
“I’m not a woman who’s a size 2,” Davis told Tom Hanks on Variety’s Actors on Actors. “If I’m in a sex scene, I want to play the sex scene. I want to say, ‘This is why I’m attracted to you, it’s gotten to this point, this is what my body looks like.’"
It’s what makes her proud to play the role of Annalise Keating on How to Get Away with Murder. “I saw it as an opportunity way bigger than doing good work — I saw it as an opportunity for a dark-skinned actress of 50 to be in a role that’s sexualized, not sexy,” she said. “There’s a difference between sexualized and sexy.”
Kristen Stewart: 'Grotesquely uncomfortable'
In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar UK, Kristen Stewart referred to filming her infamous Twilight sex scene with ex-boyfriend Robert Pattinson as “agonizing” – in large part because it had to be “the most epic sex scene” of all time. “It had to be transcendent and otherworldly, inhuman, better sex than you can possibly ever imagine,” Stewart said. “And we were like, ‘How do we live up to that?'”
Zac Efron: 'Surreal'
“I was nervous because I’ve been in love with her since I can remember,” Zac Efron said of filming his sex scene with Heather Graham for his 2012 film, At Any Price. “It was very surreal.”
This article originally appeared in PEOPLE.