People have sex. Because sex is a natural human experience, some movie directors opt to include it in their films—unsimulated—for a heightened sense of realism, which means you’re looking at real actors having real intercourse. Here are 11 movies that broke taboos for just that.
1979’s Caligula is slightly controversial in its status as a “regular” film vs. a porn film—but the fact that it has A-list actors like Peter O’Toole and Helen Mirren certainly lends it some mainstream cred. The movie was produced by Penthouse Magazine, and featured unsimulated sex scenes that were added post-production (much to the chagrin of the director) and acted out by “Penthouse Pets.”
3. 9 Songs
4. The Brown Bunny
This circa-1980 thriller by William Friedkin stars Al Pacino as a cop who’s trying to find a serial killer targeting gay men. The film’s original version featured footage of gay sex, and while some frames remain visible in the final cut, a lot was deleted to nab an R rating. (Upon its release, this movie caused quite a bit of drama, and was protested by gay rights activists who felt stigmatized.)
Intimacy is a 2001 British film about a man who falls in love with the woman he’s having casual sex with—only to realize she’s married and has no plans to leave her husband (sorry, that was definitely a spoiler). The sex is real, which is pretty rare for a mainstream movie that won Best Film at the Berlin Film Festival.
8.Lie with Me
Lie with Me is a 2005 indie drama about a man and woman’s affair—and stars two pretty well-known actors: Eric Balfour (who plays Milo Pressman in 24) and Lauren Lee Smith (who plays Riley Adams in CSI). The movie premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival but wasn’t exactly a critical success.
Lars von Trier strikes again! The director’s 2009 film Antichrist stars Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg—and while they reportedly used body doubles, the sex is most definitely unsimulated. (Note: This film was highly controversial for scenes of vaginal mutilation, but on the other hand Gainsbourg won Best Actress at the 2009 Cannes Film
10. Don’t Look Now
Guys, LOL. Don’t Look Now (a true gift from 1973) has a *very* intense, very *a natural* sex scene between Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland, and it was all kinds of controversial for a) featuring oral sex on a woman, and b) kinda-sorta-maybe being unsimulated. Basically, some people say they did, some say they didn’t, and no one will ever know the truth. What happens on the set of Don’t Look Know stays on the set of Don’t Look
Yup, Lars von Trier is back at it. This 2013 film starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgård, Shia LaBeouf, Christian Slater, Uma Thurman, and Willem Dafoe (among others) featured unsimulated sex per usual—but there’s a catch. The actors’ simulated sex, and then body doubles had IRL sex, and their genital area was superimposed on the actors. #Normal. Also, apparently some prosthetic vaginas were floating around set.
Story first published on marieclaire.com