The quality of a movie kiss can make or break a film. A good cinematic kiss can transport the audience right into the heart of a budding romance and help viewers care about the characters’ connection, but a sloppy screen smooch can sabotage the whole theatrical experience and render a supposed love story unwatchable. Luckily, there are a few films that fans can always turn to when the need for gooey, emotional goodness strikes — because they contain some of the best first kiss scenes to ever hit the big screen.
Even the most perfect first kiss scenes in movies have a story behind them, though. From kissing cast members whose real life relationships were purely platonic, to unexpected difficulties capturing the big moment on camera, to on-set encounters that were just plain awkward for everyone involved, here’s a look at the true story behind some of cinema’s most iconic first kiss scenes.
First kiss scenes don’t get much more iconic than Jack and Rose’s sunset smooch on the bow of the R.M.S. Titanic. The picture perfection of the Titanic scene was largely a result of the magnificent sunset that the characters were bathed in, which was a complete stroke of luck for the filmmakers, who had to rush to capture the “I’m flying” scene before the sun would set. However, credit is due to Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet for committing to the romance of the moment, despite the fact that off-screen, they were anything but lovers. In fact, DiCaprio spent much of his time on the set trying to gross his co-star out.
Winslet would later remember, “We shot that scene… about four times, and to be honest with you, by the end of it, we were just like ‘Ugh, we can’t kiss each other anymore.’ It just got so boring, and I had his makeup on me, and he had my makeup on him.” In other words, as swoony as the scene is on-screen, it was just another grueling day at work for the stars involved.
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Any movie expert worth his or her salt will cite the scene when Leia declares her love for Han Solo, and gets a simple “I know” in return, as the most iconic romantic scene between the characters, but their first kiss aboard the Millennium Falcon was a major moment as well. There are some who now take issue with the space pirate’s clear aggression in the scene, but the behind-the-scenes gossip surrounding Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher during production might shed some light on the palpable tension between the characters.
According to Fisher’s final autobiography, The Princess Diarist, the two had engaged in an affair during production on the films, so they were well-prepared to lock lips during that day of shooting. As she wrote, “He took my arm and drew me into the back of a taxi, moving us closer and closer until we were two faces, four eyes, one kiss, going to the place where we could rehearse that kissing we would be doing a year and a half later in The Empire Strikes Back. These were the early days and nights of the Force.” As they say, practice makes perfect.
We’ve seen plenty of superheroes kiss their leading ladies, but never quite like what happens in Spider-Man. After rescuing her from a group of would-be muggers, Spider-Man hangs upside-down in the dripping rain and lets her unmask him just enough to plant one on him in thanks. Little does she know this is Peter Parker in disguise — he’s been carrying a torch for her forever, so for him, it’s a dream come true.
For Tobey Maguire, however, the moment wasn’t nearly as lovey-dovey as it looked. He told the BBC that while co-star Kirsten Dunst did most of the screen work in the shot, he was suffering in silence. “Because of all the water pouring down I couldn’t breathe,” he remembered. “The rain was pouring up my nose. Then she was kissing me and I couldn’t breathe out of my mouth! So, I had to hold my breath while I was kissing her. I would sneak little breaths out of the corner of my mouth.” Who knew a kissing scene could be the riskiest bit of an action movie?
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)
Nothing says “let’s make out” quite like… destroying horcruxes? In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Hermione and Ron finally decided to take their friendship to the next level after years of hiding their affection for one another — even from themselves. Once they defy the odds by effectively destroying Helga Hufflepuff’s cup in the Chamber of Secrets, though, a wave literally washes over them and they decide to finally go there with a kiss.
For Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, who’d been working together since childhood, it was simply awkward. As Watson described to MTV News, “I was like, ‘Do I use tongue? Do I not use tongue? Do I cover my teeth? What do I do? Do I go first? Oh my God!’ I ended up pouncing on Rupert. I was so desperate to get it over. After the first take he was like, ‘Whoa, there! Where did that come from?’ I was like, ‘Sorry!'” Luckily for everyone, that desperation seemed to have a different meaning from the audience’s perspective, so all’s well that ends well.
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