9 movies that feature real sex scenes

Digital Spy
·5-min read

From Digital Spy

Movie sex scenes come in all forms and they don't always go to plan, but there have been movies over the years that have gone one step further.

It's rare to see such scenes in mainstream movies, but ever since Lars von Trier's The Idiots was a critical success (even though it caused some controversy at the time), there have been arthouse and independent movies using actual sex in their final cuts.

And sometimes, it involved stars you wouldn't have expected to be involved.

1. Caligula

Photo credit: Mondadori via Getty Images
Photo credit: Mondadori via Getty Images

Before von Trier was doing his thing and after Andy Warhol's Blue Story became the first movie featuring real sex to get a wide release in the US, there was Caligula, which starred the likes of Malcolm McDowell and Helen Mirren.

Not that those stars were involved in the movie's orgy scenes, as producer Bob Guccione (the founder of Penthouse magazine) filmed those hardcore scenes after production had finished, using a skeleton crew and Penthouse Pets, before editing them into the final movie.

2. Intimacy

Photo credit: Moviestore/Shutterstock
Photo credit: Moviestore/Shutterstock

Before he was the titular giant in The BFG or setting up an Easter egg hunt in Ready Player One, Mark Rylance starred with Kerry Fox in Intimacy, which saw them play two people who meet weekly to have sex, no strings attached.

One such scene saw Fox's character perform fellatio on Rylance's character, which took place for real.

3. 9 Songs

Photo credit: Optimum Releasing
Photo credit: Optimum Releasing

Michael Winterbottom's 9 Songs arguably remains the most sexually explicit (non-porn) British movie of all time.

It contains several scenes of unsimulated sex between the two leads (Kieran O'Brien and Margo Stilley). All that and nine live music performances, what more could you want?

4. Shortbus

Photo credit: THINKFilm
Photo credit: THINKFilm

A movie that centres on people attending an artistic/sexual salon was a likely contender to feature unsimulated sex and Shortbus does, but director John Cameron Mitchell had a reason for including it.

"I wanted to work with real sex as part of the story, as it is in our lives — we don't cut away the first time we have sex with someone we are in love with," he told MEL Magazine. "The actors would have to be very special actors who'd want to go there with me and trust me. We worked with them for two-and-a half years before we filmed it."

The result is an oddly charming, sex-positive film about emotional healing following 9/11.

5. Little Ashes

Photo credit: Kaleidoscope
Photo credit: Kaleidoscope

Before Robert Pattinson noticed how characters he played always masturbated in movies, he actually masturbated for real in Little Ashes, where he played Salvador Dalí. According to Pattinson, he had to do it for real as it wouldn't have looked authentic.

"Try it. I can tell you right now, no chance. It just doesn’t work. So I rubbed one out in front of the camera," he recalled, adding that he was worried it'd end his career, but then he got Twilight. A happy ending, for sure.

6. Antichrist

Photo credit: Artificial Eye
Photo credit: Artificial Eye

Lars von Trier was at it again with Antichrist, about a couple who retreat to a cabin in the woods after the death of their child. It also featured hardcore sex scenes, but it wasn't involving the main stars Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg.

"We used porn actors. In fact, it was funny, for the scene in which she masturbates him and the blood comes out, they just kept on going. I could not understand it," von Trier told Rotten Tomatoes. "And then someone told me that in porn you are not allowed to stop until the director tells you!"

7. Nymphomaniac

Photo credit: Canal+
Photo credit: Canal+

Lars again, this time in the two-part drama Nymphomaniac about a self-diagnosed nymphomaniac who recounts her sexual experiences after an assault. As with Antichrist, von Trier used the same digital trickery to include real sex scenes in the movie.

"We shot the actors pretending to have sex and then had the body doubles, who really did have sex, and in post we will digital-impose the two," producer Louise Vesth explained. "So above the waist it will be the star and the below the waist it will be the doubles."

8. The Brown Bunny

Photo credit: Wellspring / Wild Bunch
Photo credit: Wellspring / Wild Bunch

Experimental road movie The Brown Bunny sees a motorcycle racer (Vincent Gallo) haunted by memories of his ex-girlfriend (Chloë Sevigny), and features a scene where Sevigny performs unsimulated oral sex on Gallo.

It caused controversy at its Cannes premiere, but in 2016, Sevigny stood by the scene. "I'd probably still do it today," she told Variety. "I believe in Vincent as an artist and I stand by the film."

9. Love

Photo credit: Wild Bunch
Photo credit: Wild Bunch

In terms of depicting real sex in movies, Gaspar Noé rivals Lars von Trier in terms of going big on it. Noé followed up Enter the Void's lengthy sequence of hardcore sex with Love, a movie all about sex that features a mix of real and simulated sex.

The real talking point is that the movie ended up being a TikTok challenge where users recorded themselves watching the first scene of Love without knowing that it featured a couple's mutual masturbation.

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