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10 Sexy Movie Moments That Weren’t in the Script
Writers and directors the world over know how to turn up the heat in any movie with a well-timed kiss, sex scene, or a bit of star nudity. But sometimes, even they can’t see when a little bit of sexy is needed to really sell a scene. Luckily, their actors are often in the zone, deep in their characters, and working on instinct to set the mood, get the shot, and shock the audience.
Indeed, there are many times when actors have taken matters into their own hands—pun intended—and stunned everyone by going off script and delivering a film’s sexiest moment on nothing but pure impulse.
10 Who Doesn’t Want to Kiss Brad Pitt?
Babylon (2022), Damien Chazelle’s ode to old Hollywood, may have divided critics, but there is no arguing with its bombast, flair for the theatrical, and shining star power. Boasting a cast comprising talents as diverse as Tobey Maguire, Spike Jonze, and Flea (yes, that Flea), the film has a thousand surprises up its sequined sleeves. But few of its surprises are perhaps as large as the one the film’s female lead, Margot Robbie, sprang on her opposite, Brad Pitt.
Robbie stars as Nellie LaRoy, an aspiring actress and devotee of veteran actor Jack Conrad (Pitt), navigating the excesses of the 1920s while trying to get ahead. One scene in particular sees a drunken Nellie lock lips with Jack at a big Hollywood bash—in front of his fiancée. But this kiss never appeared in the script.
Robbie revealed that she improvised it, convincing Chazelle beforehand that it suited the character and the moment. The actress admitted she may have done it purely for the opportunity to kiss Brad Pitt. Still, there’s no denying it boosts both the sex appeal and comedy quota of the scene tenfold.
9 Frenemies Feeling the Vibe
With the Hunger Games franchise returning to the big screen in 2023, there may be no better time to revisit a classic and thoroughly unexpected moment from the original “quadrilogy.”
The series’ climax, Mockingjay: Part 2 (2015), brings together disparate forces from the first three films as people’s hero and Hunger Games survivor Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) leads a team of rebels to liberate her homeland from a fascist power. The most captivatingly sexy moment in the movie, however, comes not from Katniss and her several love interests but from two of the supporting characters: anti-establishment renegade Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) and Hunger Games poster girl Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks).
Sworn enemies for most of the series, the two come together for a kiss during this final installment—a kiss which was as surprising to the crew as the audience. Banks and Harrelson decided to do it in the moment, and director Francis Lawrence liked it so much that he got them to do it a few times over and kept it in the final cut.
8 Reflexive Pec Grab
One of the cornerstone movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), introduced us to a number of key characters for the series, including Cap’s best friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), his love interest MI6 Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), and of course, the red-white-and-blue hero himself, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans).
The film follows Steve from his origins as a plucky nobody on the streets of Brooklyn to his becoming the definitive hero of the Second World War effort. But to get there, he has to participate in a super-soldier experiment that modifies his physical structure from ten-pound weakling to hulking Adonis in a matter of minutes. The change is so stark that it caught some of the on-set cast by surprise—most notably, Hayley Atwell.
When Evans emerged fresh from his transformation, topless, muscular, and seemingly slathered in baby oil, Atwell, breathless, nigh-wordless, and having never seen him topless before, couldn’t help herself and reflexively pawed at his pec. The impulse proved right for the scene, and her unintentionally ad-libbed moment made it to our screens.
7 Animals in the Bedroom
Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci (2021) is a mixed bag as far as pretty much every element is concerned, with the tone bandying from high-fashion biopic to crime thriller and back, and the cast performances residing on a spectrum from the comic, two-dimensional Jared Leto to the reliably sober and realistic Al Pacino. At the heart of all this are Adam Driver and Lady Gaga, playing out the trials and tribulations of Maurizio Gucci and his new wife, Patrizia Reggiani.
As such things often do, their relationship really steps into gear with a particularly wild and spontaneous sex scene. But while the scene itself was written into the script, forming the shaky foundations of the couple’s future, the approach to it was not.
Rather than deciding how to approach it beforehand, Driver and Gaga improvised various central elements of the scene in the moment, including the noises they made. Letting their inner animals run free, the pair grunted and brayed their way through the intimacies, feeling comfortable enough with each other to quite literally make it up as they went along.
6 Perfect Execution
Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World: Dominion (2022) may have ended the series on an all-time low, most likely burying the property for another few decades to come, but the first film of the trilogy—Jurassic World (2015)—gave us not only a revamped Isla Nublar park for a new age but also characters and relationships to really get behind. None more so than Chris Pratt’s dinosaur handler, Owen Grady, and Bryce Dallas Howard’s park operations manager, Claire Dearing, whose initial friction becomes a budding romance across the course of the film.
And few single moments are more pivotal to this than a sudden kiss in the third act. Following Claire’s quick-thinking execution of an attacking pterodactyl, turning the tables on the protector-protected dynamic she and Owen shared up until that point, Owen pulls her close and plants one on her.
Howard herself said the kiss was spontaneous, a spur-of-the-moment action that played true on camera. The crowd on set applauded. Trevorrow loved it, and everything from Claire’s little squeak of surprise to her gasps at the end make it a thoroughly earned and textbook-sexy character moment.
5 First Full Frontal
Paul Schrader’s iconic early-1980s neo-noir set star Richard Gere on his course to becoming a household name within a few short years. Centering around male prostitute Julian Kay (Gere), who winds up as the prime suspect in a murder case while becoming romantically entangled with a politician’s wife, American Gigolo (1980) wholeheartedly embraced New Hollywood sensibilities and broke all kinds of boundaries.
One of those boundaries was featuring male full-frontal nudity. There is a debate about whether American Gigolo was the very first to do it or just one of the first. But in any case, Gere made waves in Hollywood by baring it all on camera.
Though daringly provocative and entirely in keeping with the style of the film, far from being planned, the nudity arrived in the actor’s performance organically, without any direction from the script. Schrader and Gere worked together to make the film feel at home in its subject matter, and part of that was having the titular gigolo take his gear off.
4 Wife Meets the Mistress
One of director David O. Russell’s best works, American Hustle (2013), takes a block of his regular collaborators—including Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Amy Adams—and throws them into a 1970s black comedy crime caper, complete with combovers, Cadillacs, and science ovens (microwaves, to the contemporary viewer).
While the men of American Hustle are gloriously repulsive, falling over each other to be as vile and loathsome as possible, the women are frequently left handling the baggage.
In an extremely emotionally charged scene, Rosalyn Rosenfeld (Lawrence) confronts Sydney Prosser (Adams) after finding out her husband Irving (Bale) has been cheating on her. The pair trade vicious words and almost come to blows, but before it can descend into violence, Rosalyn grabs Sydney and kisses her like she means it. It’s confusing, it’s sexy, and it’s the perfect boost to the scene.
As it turns out, the two leading ladies created this moment together, very much on the fly. Going off-script, Adams came up with the idea, but it was Lawrence who drove the execution, packing it with meaning, emotion, and a brutal kind of sex appeal.
3 Dropping the Towel
Arriving during the height of the string of Judd Apatow-produced movies that completely changed the comedy landscape, Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008) features everything we might expect to see from such a film—including regular Apatow cast members Jason Segel, Paul Rudd, and Jonah Hill. But it also features a highly unusual scene that made a whole generation of viewers look at Segel in a totally different way.
Living his best life and unable to see the wood for the trees, Forgetting Sarah Marshall’s protagonist Peter Bretter (Segel) is blindsided when his girlfriend, the titular Sarah (Kristen Bell), announces she’s breaking up with him. Unfortunately for him, he’s in nothing but a towel when this happens, and when it slips off mid-dumping, he makes no swift moves to recover it.
Rather than cutting away, the camera holds on a full frontal shot of the actor, but this wasn’t the original plan for either the shot or the scene. Segel convinced director Nicholas Stoller to include this moment, as it not only mirrored something that really happened to the actor, but he thought it would be really funny.
2 Mastering a Poppy Field
Helena Bonham Carter’s film debut made the most of her well-to-do English roots and accent with an adaptation of E.M. Forster’s classic romance novel A Room with a View (1985). Directed by James Ivory, the film featured Bonham Carter, Daniel Day-Lewis, and other future talents both in front of and behind the camera to scoop a plethora of awards, including the Academy Awards for Best Screenplay and Art Direction.
Bonham Carter stars as Lucy Honeychurch, a proper young Englishwoman who falls for the free-spirited George Emerson (Julian Sands). Their first kiss onscreen was supposed to be a big one, but due to technical difficulties shooting on location—namely, the challenge of walking at all, never mind gracefully, through an Italian poppy field wearing high heels—the two romantic leads improvised in the moment.
Sands marched up to his co-star, dropped his hat, and grabbed her head with both hands, launching into the kiss in a moment of unplanned passion. To their credit, it feels organic and ended up being far more popular than the scenes that were supposed to be sexy by design.
1 A Bare-Faced Power Move
While it extended far outside of his typical comfort zone, director Yorgos Lanthimos’s historical comedy The Favourite (2019) proved to be the director’s most popular film yet. Slightly less surreal and considerably less absurd than the contemporary dramas the director is known for, The Favourite’s success was rooted in a relatively straightforward plot, beautiful period sets, and, of course, phenomenal acting from its trio of female stars: Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, and Olivia Colman.
Stone plays Abigail Hill, a woman in competition with her cousin Sarah (Weisz) to become the favorite consort of Queen Anne (Colman). In one crucial scene, Sarah catches Abigail in bed with the queen, asleep. The script only called for Stone and Colman to be under the covers together, but after trying it several times and not feeling as though the scene was working, Stone insisted on being nude for it.
In a career-first, and against Colman’s better advice, Stone stripped off, and the scene plays all the better for it. It’s sexy, it’s subtly underhand, and it has the perfect effect on Sarah’s character, providing a focal point that is as much a slap in the face as it is a display of raw power and sexuality.