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How DO stars film sex scenes? Exercise balls, whoopee cushions & a lot of Dutch courage – their secret tricks revealed

LET’S be honest, Hollywood has seen some truly outrageous sex scenes down the years… but have you ever wondered how stars manage to keep their cool?

While some of the world’s leading actors have pulled off such intimate moments flawlessly, they’ve relied on some weird and wonderful methods and props to see them through.

Normal People star Daisy Edgar-Jones is the latest actress to open up on how she overcame the awkwardness in her many X-rated scenes with Paul Mescal.

The 22-year-old told Harper’s Bazaar that an intimacy co-ordinator was hired to choreograph them, before adding: “It was about creating a real friendship with Paul so we could trust each other.”

But while she found her friendship with her co-star helped them through each of the scenes, other TV and movie stars have opted for much less traditional methods on set.

From Oscar winner Olivia Colman using a wet sponge, to Kate Winslet being given an exercise ball to bounce on, celebs have come up with some unique ways to pull off the heated moments.

Here we look at each of their secrets…

Luckily for Kate Winslet, one of her raunchiest sex scenes focused heavily on her face – allowing for a very bizarre prop to help her out.

The actress, 44, had to act out a very energetic bedroom scene in 2005 film Romance and Cigarettes – and according to actor, writer and director John Turturro, she had a hand from an exercise ball.

In a conversation with director Robert LuPone, Turtutto said: “Kate had sprained her ankle, so we said, ‘If you sit on James, you’re going to be inhibited because you’re going to be hurting him’.

“So let’s put Kate on a little ball, a little exercise ball. I didn’t want to shoot and for you to get embarrassed, I wanted Kate to do it all.

“So I had two prop guys to hold her [in case she fell off] and I realised they may start laughing, so I said, ‘put something in your mouth because I don’t want you laughing’.”

Sure enough, the actress managed to act it out without viewers having a clue what she was bouncing on.

She may have played prim and proper Lady Sybil in Downton Abbey, but Jessica Brown Findlay’s role in Harlots couldn’t be further from it.

Her role as the daughter of a brothel-keeper sees her take part in a few sex scenes, and she has a unique way of breaking the ice on set.

She told the Radio Times: “I found it was quite amusing if you put a whoopee cushion underneath someone. It breaks the ice.

“Sex scenes are massively awkward. But you can make them funny.” 

However, she added: “There’s a time and place for a laugh, but there is a time and place to go, ‘OK is everyone alright? What are we talking about, is everyone OK?’ Because it’s not all fun and games.”

She won an Oscar for the role, but Olivia Colman has revealed not every scene in The Favourite was as easy to film as others.

The star, 46, who plays Queen Anne in the period drama, has a particularly raunchy sex scene with Emma Stone – and to lighten the mood, she found a way to shock her co-star mid-way through.

Speaking on The Graham Norton Show, Olivia admitted she placed an unusual “barrier” between her legs when Emma had to touch her intimately.

She explained: “In order to avoid finding anything you shouldn’t have found… because it’s sort of under the sheets like that… I asked the make-up department if they had a sponge.

“I put a sponge there and I said ‘it’s alright, there’s a barrier, you’ll be fine.’ It was a big wet sponge.”

Olivia also revealed how The Favourite director Yorgos Lanthimos put her at ease.

She said: “I trusted him completely in the love making scenes.”

Keira Knightley has filmed her fair share of sex scenes – but when she took on the role of a sex-obsessed seductress in A Dangerous Method, she opted for drastic measures.

The actress, 35, had to act out a series of very X-rated moments – including being tied to a bed and spanked.

And she previously revealed to the Mirror that she had to down shots and champagne beforehand for Dutch courage.

“We were both very nervous about those scenes because they’re not nice,” she said of herself and co-star Michael Fassbender.

The actress added: “He [Fassbender] is absolutely wonderful – we had a couple of shots of vodka before doing the scene and a couple of glasses of champagne afterwards.

“A lot of people say acting is like therapy, but I don’t go for that. It is for some people, but not me.”

Emmy Rossum racked up the bedroom scenes on Shameless as Fiona Gallagher – but she still liked to preserve a bit of her modesty.

“We like it to be realistic, but not real, so I wear something that I have called the ‘vag pad’,” the actress, 33, said on a previous appearance on Chelsea Lately.

“It’s like a little triangular, kind of, panty liner that you stick to yourself.”

Things aren’t as sophisticated for her male co-stars, however, as she added: “The guy wears, like, a sock.”

There are few actors that have had to master the art of sex scenes quite like Fifty Shades of Grey star Jamie Dornan – and he too has his own prop.

The actor, 38, has found having a small amount of cover helps ensure there are no embarrassing slips – just like Rossum.

He previously told GQ: “Your dignity is intact as much as it’s all tucked away in a little flesh-coloured bag…

“As a guy you put all your essentials in a little bag and you tie it up like a little bag of grapes and it’s tucked away. It’s quite a peculiar thing to do every day.”

While many stars pluck up the courage to get down and dirty themselves, Isla Fisher relied on body doubles for her racier takes in Wedding Crashers.

She told Entertainment Weekly: “I had a hand double for the under-the-table scene. I had a breast double for the boob-in-the-face and I had a butt double.

“That may have been the same person.”

Just like Rossum, Allison Williams, 32, ensured she spent time with the wardrobe department ahead of her now-infamous ‘motorboat’ scene in Girls.

The actress starred in one of the most jaw-dropping scenes of the series – which featured her bent over a sink while her co-star got an, erm, extremely close look at her bottom.

She told Entertainment Weekly of filming it: “I had a couple of days talking to wardrobe and make-up to get ready to rig the thing that I wore for the a*** motorboating.

“It was an engineering achievement! I would manufacture it if more than one person a year needed it.

“It was so elaborate – it involved Spanx that we cut away and glued down and involved menstrual pads and two of those weird thongs. I’ve had to do scenes like this twice now.”

However, the prep didn’t end there, as she also asked the crew to make her “smell like cake”.

According to Vulture, she explained: “I grabbed the makeup girl and said, ‘I want to smell like a cake,’ so we put vanilla cream everywhere so everything smells good.”

Michael Fassbender, 43, revealed his best trick to help alleviate awkwardness is by cracking jokes and trying to make his co-star feel as comfortable as possible.

While the actor – who played a sex addict in 2011 movie Shame – admitted all intimate scenes are “stressful”, he usually manages to cope by talking about it with his co-star.

He previously told Vulture: “The most important thing is to say, ‘Let’s talk about this’.”

He added: “You tell jokes on set and try to make things as relaxed as possible, because to be honest, you want to get in there and go for it immediately. Then it’s going to be over quicker!”

Fassbender also joked that, given the amount of sex scenes he’s now had to do, he could bring out a DVD on it.

“It’ll be my version of Michael Caine’s acting DVD. ‘Michael Fassbender teaches you how to simulate sex!'” he joked.

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