Love Scenes That Got Actors In Trouble

Everyone loves a good love scene — but not all love scenes are good. For example, Netflix has pretty much mastered the art of highlighting supremely awkward displays of intimacy. This includes basically the entirety of Sex Education, which could not exist without it, and Always Be My Maybe, which really highlights the nostalgia that no one actually wanted to have about their first time. 

Similarly, some love scenes are just too hot for TV. While we'd argue this doesn't automatically throw them in the "bad" category, they're certainly controversial enough to warrant a few complaints from pearl-clutching, suburban moms.

Hey, it's Hollywood. There are a lot of love scenes out there. Sex sells, but that doesn't mean all parties emerge unscathed. Though a huge number of stars have no qualms about filming nude scenes, some of Hollywood's steamiest scenes have caused major problems on and off set. Whether it's complaints from the regulatory board in charge of ratings, jealous real-life lovers, or harrowing allegations, these love scenes got actors in deep trouble.

James Franco's graphic scene in The Long Home

James Franco was still reeling from The Disaster Artist's success when the actor-slash-director found himself facing controversy over a graphic love scene in The Long Home – a film that, at the time of this writing, has yet to be released. In 2018, the Los Angeles Times published a sprawling report where five women accused the former Freaks And Geeks star of "inappropriate" and "sexually exploitative behavior." One of these women was Franco's former acting student, Sarah Tither-Kaplan, who appeared in a number of his productions.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Franco cast Tither-Kaplan as a sex worker in The Long Home in 2015. With a cast that included Josh Hutcherson and Courtney Love, it was undoubtedly a big opportunity for an unknown working actress, so Tither-Kaplan signed on even though she knew it required nudity. Sometime in May of that year, the actress claimed a producer asked her and some of the other cast members if they wanted to participate in a "bonus" orgy scene where Franco would reportedly simulate "performing oral sex on each of them." Tither-Kaplan, who was fully nude in the scene, claimed that Franco removed the clear plastic guards covering their private parts and "continued to simulate the sex act with no protection."

Following the Los Angeles Times report, Franco was met with a large public outcry and removed from his Vanity Fair cover, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He has since denied the allegations.

That infamous sex scene in Last Tango in Paris

A whopping 44 years after its premiere, Marlon Brando's Oscar-winning film Last Tango in Paris made headlines for a particularly graphic simulated rape scene, which the Daily Mail hailed as "the most infamous sex scene ever." This came after a controversial 2013 video interview with director Bernardo Bertolucci went viral, according to AP News.

In the interview, Bertolucci admitted that neither he nor Brando told actress Maria Schneider, who was 19 years old at the time, that they planned to use a stick of butter during the aforementioned scene because he wanted the actress to react "as a girl not as an actress" and feel "the rage and the humiliation." Schneider, who passed away in 2011, did feel humiliated. In 2007, she told The Daily Mail that she "felt a little raped" by Bertolucci and Brando, who was 29 years her senior. "I was so angry," she said. "I should have called my agent or had my lawyer come to the set because you can't force someone to do something that isn't in the script, but at the time, I didn't know that."

When Bertolucci's video surfaced in 2016, the industry overwhelmingly stood behind Schneider. Jessica Chastain tweeted that she felt "sick" knowing the "director planned her attack." Director Ava DuVernay revealed that she was "horrified, disgusted, and enraged by it." Even Chris Evans called it "beyond disgusting." "I feel rage," he said, and thus, the film's legacy was rightly destroyed.

Tisha Campbell's bedroom scenes in Martin

Though Gina and Martin Payne seemed like a solid unit in Fox's beloved sitcom Martin, the figurative marriage between co-stars was apparently headed for divorce in real life. The show met an untimely demise in 1997 after Tisha Campbell quit the series over alleged abuse from her TV husband, Martin Lawrence. Largely, Campbell's decision to leave hinged on the pair's bedroom scenes.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Campbell filed a 1997 lawsuit claiming Lawrence was on an "obsessive campaign of physical and emotional abuse against her." She alleged that she endured "sexual harassment, sexual battery, and violent threats" on set, which were "repeated and escalating" and left her fearing for her life. This reportedly began in Season 1 and continued to escalate throughout Season 3, where Lawrence allegedly "humiliated and abused Campbell in front of the entire cast and crew" to the point where she was hospitalized for stress. Campbell's suit also claimed that Lawrence would "grope her, kiss her, force his tongue into her mouth and simulate intercourse with her on the set."

By Season 5, Campbell begged writers to stop writing bedroom scenes with her and Lawrence. They did not relent, and Campbell ended up quitting after her co-star allegedly had a particularly terrifying rage-filled outburst in 1996. The series did not survive Campbell's departure, and HBO even tried to sue the star in an attempt to get her to return to the show. Instead, it was canceled.

Candace Cameron-Bure's love triangle in Fuller House

It's hard to imagine any scene in Fuller House, Netflix's Full House reboot, causing problems for anyone involved. The series is so wholesome that it's even missing the Olsen twins, the veritable poster children of picking up a bad chain-smoking habit. Nonetheless, Candace Cameron-Bure, who plays D.J. Tanner, found herself in some family turmoil over her kissing scenes with Scott Weinger and John Brotherton. Sure, she didn't face as much heat as co-star Lori Loughlin, who was wrapped up in the "Varsity Blues" college admissions scandal, but she still bothered her husband. Thankfully, that doesn't come with a two-month prison sentence, though she may have spent time in the dog house.

In a 2017 interview with Us Weekly, Cameron-Bure revealed that her husband Valeri Bure hates it when she kisses other guys on screen to the point that he only visited her "once or twice" on the set of Fuller House. In fact, he won't watch any of the actress' projects lest he stumbles upon her kissing another dude. 

"He actually doesn't watch anything that I do for that very reason," Cameron-Bure told the outlet. "Because it is uncomfortable and I totally understand and respect it. He's always held a position that, 'I don't want to ever tell you not to or stop you from your job,' and all that, but he doesn't want to watch and I respect that. And it's the boundaries." Cold!

The campfire scene in Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain's infamous campfire love scene changed how we view LGBTQ+ characters in Hollywood, but that couldn't happen without some initial controversy. At the time, it was one of the few (or possibly one of the only) Oscar-winning flicks depicting homosexual penetration on the big screen, something director Ang Lee filmed with intent. Years after the fact, Vice's Garage still considered the scene "shocking for its violence."

Despite the film's various accolades — which includes a handful of Academy Awards and a Golden Globe — the infamous scene caused Brokeback Mountain to be relegated to little more than the "gay cowboy movie" among some viewers (though, at least it was far more meaningful than "the fish sex movie"). Other viewers and media outlets accused the film of "pushing a gay agenda," while conservative commentators hurled anti-gay slurs at the production, according to E! News.

The film was widely considered a potentially career-ruining move for Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger, and according to IndieWire, numerous stars turned it down before the pair signed on. Ledger also had to regularly put a stop to homophobic jokes about the film following its success. "I see people who have joked with me or criticized me about lines I say in that movie, " Gyllenhaal said during a Today interview. "... [Heath would] never joke. Someone wanted to make a joke about the story or whatever, he was like, 'No. This is about love.'"

Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas in Original Sin

Like you'd expect by the name, Angelina Jolie's 2001 blockbuster Original Sin was definitely sinful. According to the Los Angeles Times, the film's intense sexual content caused the director Michael Cristofer to get in trouble with the Motion Picture Association of America, who insisted he cut some scenes in order to get an R rating. "I got nailed by the censors," told the Times. "I know they don't like to be called censors, but they are. This film is about sexual obsession, and I had to cut, for my money, just too much of the sex."

He's not the only one who faced the wrath of people who just couldn't handle the movie's overt hotness. According to ABC News, tabloids started speculating that Melanie Griffith, who was married to star Antonio Banderas, was jealous of her husband's steamy scenes with Jolie. This was reportedly a problem during filming, but Jolie claimed that she was friendly with Griffith, who often stopped by the set.

In an attempt to further shut down the rumors, Jolie accidentally created a rumor of her own. She flippantly said that she'd rather sleep with Griffith than Banderas, and tabloids ran with it. "I was being playful, it was my way of saying that he's married to a beautiful woman and I'd sooner sleep with her than have an affair with him," she said. It's hard to win with the tabloids when your film is just that darn hot.

Sadie Sink's first kiss in Stranger Things

The kiss between Sadie Sink's Max and Caleb McLaughlin's Lucas in Season 2 of Stranger Things was never supposed to happen — but stranger things have happened on the series than two teens locking lips at a middle school dance. Nonetheless, the unscripted smooch caused some major controversy.

In an episode of the aftershow Beyond Stranger Things, Sink revealed that the kiss wasn't originally in the script and that showrunners Matt and Ross Duffer sprang it on her the day she was meant to film it. She spent the whole day anxious, wondering if it was actually going to happen, and did wind up shooting it the following day.

In that same after-show discussion, Ross admitted that he was actually joking at first, but Sink was so "freaked out" that he decided to write the kiss in. Basically, he claimed it was "her fault" — and the Internet was not happy. Fans slammed the kiss as nonconsensual until Sink spoke out. She told TheWrap that she "never objected" to the kiss, and she was only nervous because she'd never kissed someone before. "I always felt comfortable and the Duffer Brothers, they do the best job," Sink said. "And always create a comfortable space. And if I felt uncomfortable with anything, I wouldn't have done it."

Tommy Davidson's impromptu kiss in Woo

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have one of Hollywood's most enduring relationships, even if it was subject to a teary-eyed and highly controversial episode of Red Table Talk. Rumors of an open marriage have plagued the Smiths since they tied the knot in 1997, but things certainly didn't look very open when Tommy Davidson kissed the Fresh Prince's wife while filming Woo in 1998.

According to People, who excerpted Davidson's memoir Living in Color, the issue began when Davidson rallied to change Woo's ending to include a fun, lighthearted dance scene during the credits. While filming the scene, he planted an unexpected smooch on Jada, who reportedly flinched. "I didn't know this: You have to rehearse a kiss," he wrote (via People). "You can't just spring it on your co-star ... And I didn't think it was all that big of a deal."

Will was reportedly on set, so he saw the kiss go down and was furious. Davidson claimed the rapper followed him to his trailer and totally lost it to the point where Jada had to intervene. "Will went all gangsta on me, saying what I did was not cool," Davidson wrote (via People). "There was a moment there when we might have come to blows. My reactive fight-or-flight instinct was triggered and I could have exploded." Luckily, it never came to that.

The underage kiss in Disney's Blank Check

Disney's Blank Check was a seemingly innocuous, feel-good children's movie when it came out in 1994. Sure, it landed an abysmal 9% critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics claiming it was a "money-grab" that "makes no real logistical sense," but since when do Disney movies make logistical sense? Does Halloweentown make sense? Does Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century? Heck, are we really supposed to believe that Lizzie McGuire has an Italian pop star doppelganger? Come on. The real criticism of Blank Check came more than a decade after its initial release when Disney launched their streaming service, Disney+, and nostalgic millennials realized that Brian Bonsall and Karen Duffy's kissing scene was actually horrific.

According to Metro, the film went viral in March 2020 after TikTok users started noticing that a major plot point was the fact that an adult woman kissed an 11-year-old boy on the mouth. After one user wrote, "This Disney movie Blank Check has the most awkward scene ever," the floodgates opened. One Twitter user even suggested, "How is this legal? Jail. Jail. Jail." Honestly, who was in charge of this kind of stuff in the '90s? You'd think someone would have stepped in to say that's gross.

Rachel Bilson and Zach Braff in The Last Kiss

Rachel Bilson is such a wholesome actress that it seems like her most controversial career decision is starring in commercials for Magnum ice cream, which may seem a bit overrated to anyone who isn't over-the-moon about chocolate. As it turns out, The O.C. star actually almost lost out on a role because she's so wholesome. In an interview with Playboy, which proves to be a rather ironic publication for such a discussion, Bilson revealed that she almost lost out on her role in The Last Kiss because she refused to do nude scenes.

"Movies can be sexy or sexual without showing things," Bilson told Playboy (via People). "It's almost a deal breaker. The movie was rated R, and they like to put in nudity wherever they can, but I'm pretty strong willed and believe it can be avoided."

In the end, Bilson did end up having to film a steamy love scene with Zach Braff, but she didn't have to show very much skin.

Nikki Reed's underage love scenes in Mini's First Time

Alec Baldwin's black comedy Mini's First Time pretty much flew under the radar when it was released in 2006. The film only garnered a 52% critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes and was widely regarded as average. It was only about a decade later, when Baldwin released his memoir Nevertheless, that people started remembering the film ever happened at all — and not for a good reason.

According to HuffPost, Baldwin started a war with his producers when his memoir revealed that lead Nikki Reed was underage while filming the steamy comedy about a high school senior who decides to become a sex worker. Baldwin played Reed's stepfather, and the film's plot largely focuses on the pair's on-screen affair. "I was forty-seven, and it never occurred to me to ask how old Nikki Reed was," he wrote (via HuffPost). "When I found out, just as we finished, that she was seventeen, I flipped out on the producers, who had told me something different."

Dana Brunetti, who served as one of the film's producers, fired back at Baldwin's claims in a series of 11 tweets. Brunetti claimed that Baldwin was fully aware of Reed's age (which was actually a year younger than the actor initially wrote in his memoir), and that "he didn't mind." Nick Guthe, who directed the series, backed Brunetti up. Neither of them seemed pleased, and the conversation was pretty much dropped by the actor.