Awkward Exes, Runny Noses and Tuna Sandwiches: Here's What Happens When Onscreen Kisses Go Really Wrong

This kiss, this kiss...can be really gross. Stars' make-out sessions may be the stuff of movie magic, but offscreen they can be awkward AF.

By Sarah Grossbart Jan 01, 2022 4:00 AMTags
Watch: "Lady and the Tramp" Iconic Kiss Recreated in Real Life

Sometimes bad kisses happen to good people. 

You've got to worry about tongue placement and dry lips and the lingering effects of a poorly chosen lunch. Put simply, sometimes the magic doesn't happen with each press of the lips. 

And that ineffable chemistry can be even harder to find on a film set with a myriad other factors at play—ranging from, say, a poorly timed cold to an unfortunate craft services menu to the fact that your make-out partner might just be your former partner partner, a not infrequent occurrence in Hollywood where stars tend to date coworkers with some regularity. 

Which might explain why for every person that marvels about how lucky they are to make a living getting up close and personal with their attractive costars, there's a dozen or so more who grouse about how uncomfortable the whole set-up is, how wildly different it feels from how it may appear onscreen. 

Take it from Kate Hudson, the rom-com queen tending to know a bit about creating movie make-out magic.

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Her love stories in films like How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and Bride Wars are the stuff of our fanfic dreams and yet, she confessed to Gwyneth Paltrow on her Goop podcast, "Honestly, I feel like I kind of haven't had the best kissers, I feel like I should have had better ones."

Even Matthew McConaughey, the Benjamin Barry to her Andie Anderson, didn't pass muster. 

"Every time I kiss McConaughey, I mean, it's like there's just something happening and there's like snot or wind," she explained. "Like when we were kissing, like in the end of Fool's Gold, we're, like, in the ocean, we had the plane crash, he just had snot all over his face."

John Clifford/Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock

Alright, alright, alright—we get it. 

"It's like, 'OK, here's the scene: You're in the middle of the ocean," McConaughey explained, giving his side to Yahoo! Entertainment. "You go under the water, so on 'Action,' go into the water and then come up out of the water like you're gasping for air. You're glad to be alive! Then you look at each other and you swim to each other and go into an embrace.'"

So, yeah, he wasn't his best self: "There's a lot of salt water and snot and all kinds of stuff that are in between all those," he continued, "and so you're doing that and you're like, 'OK, I think that worked, but did that look any good?'"

He's confident that their best smooching days are still ahead of them—"There's still time"—but some make-out situations are simply beyond repair. As you, perhaps, prep for a bit of New Year's Eve smooching of your own, enjoy these tales of love scenes gone wrong and take a little solace in knowing that even beautiful people don't always create beautiful memories. 

Dane Cook

For all of her complaints about love scene partners, Kate Hudson may be the one who's mastered how to lose a guy in 10 seconds. Griping about their interaction in 2008's My Best Friend's Girl, Dane Cook told Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live, "I think she purposely ate a feast of onions right before the scene. I had to burn her on that one."

Reese Witherspoon

Not gonna lie, the Oscar winner's sexy Water for Elephants scene with Robert Pattinson sounds like a bit of a circus. "I was doing it when I had a really bad cold," the Twilight heartthrob revealed during his "MTV First: Robert Pattinson" special in 2011. "My nose is running all over the place, and it was in one of the additional photography scenes, and Reese had this wig on, and literally, I was wiping my nose on her wig." Witherspoon agreed it was a bit, uh, hairy. "He did have a very runny nose, yeah," she said. "It wasn't appealing; it wasn't pleasant."

Selena Gomez

Admittedly, the former child star doesn't have the sweetest memories from her stint on The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. Paired off with Dylan Sprouse for her first-ever smooch, "I actually leaned in to kiss him, and I had my eyes closed a little too early and I ended up missing, like, half of his lip," she recalled to Tiger Beat. "It ended up being the most awkward kiss in the world. But I was 12, so it was okay and it was good." Actually, the worst part, she said on The Kelly Clarkson Show in March, was that she actually had a major crush on Cole Sprouse, "Then I guest-starred on the show, but I kissed his brother!"

Emma Watson

The magic wasn't exactly there when pals Watson and Rupert Grint took their friendship to the next level seven films into the Harry Potter franchise. With so much build-up, the then-19-year-old admitted to MTV News that she was buzzing with anxiety. "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!'" she shared in the 2009 chat. "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!'"

Liam Hemsworth

The odds were pretty much never in Hemsworth's favor when he had to get close to Hunger Games costar Jennifer Lawrence. "When you look at it on the outside, it looks like a great picture," he said of the unrequited romance between District 12's Katniss and Gale. "She's one of my best friends, I love her, but if we had a kissing scene, she would make a point of eating garlic or tuna fish or something that was disgusting. Right before the scene, she'd be like, 'Yeah, I ate tuna,' or 'I had garlic, and I didn't brush my teeth.' And I'd be like, 'Fantastic, I can't wait to get in there and taste it!'"

Josh Hutcherson

Hutcherson would agree that his Hunger Games paramour's pecks were less than ideal ("There was a lot of slobber"), but a bit of dampness is nothing compared to what he experienced in 2005's Little Manhattan. Just 11 at the time, he embarked on a romantic scene with "a crew of, like, 50 people standing around watching me," he relayed to Seventeen in 2013, "and it was the most non-real, non-intimate that I could possibly have for my first kiss I think."

Ashley Tisdale

Tisdale told Elle she had to get pal Zac Efron's head in the game when they were paired up on an episode of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. Already weirded out by having to do that with someone who's "like my brother," she fully balked when he tried to slip her the tongue. "At the time, he was used to acting on Warner Bros, which is The CW," she explained of her High School Musical costar. "I was like, 'Get away from me!' I closed my mouth so fast. I was like, 'This is Disney Channel! We don't kiss like that on Disney Channel!'"

Zac Efron

Efron got schooled once again on the set of 2020's Summerland. "At lunch, they served fish," he explained on the Graham Norton Show of the day he was set to get into it with costar Kay Panabaker. "And next was the kissing scene. I was very nervous. We went in for the kiss. I got up this close. I shut my eyes. I'm ready to go in and nothing happens. I'm going further and nothing's happening. I'm getting further and further, thinking eventually we're going to touch. And then I hear, 'Oh my gosh, did you have salmon for lunch? Seriously?'" Harsh, but he learned a valuable lesson: "I carry a toothbrush everywhere I go now."

Tobey Maguire

Among Maguire's most terrifying stunts on the Spider-Man set: That iconic kiss with, at the time, real-life girlfriend Kirsten Dunst. "I was hanging upside down, it was really late at night, it was raining, and the whole time, I had rainwater running up my nose," he explained to Parade in 2007. "Then, when Kirsten rolled back the wet mask, she cut off the air completely."

Kirsten Dunst

Here's something you don't hear often: Kissing Brad Pitt kinda sucks. To be fair, Dunst was only 11 at the time of shooting 1994's Interview With the Vampire and the future Sexiest Man Alive was in his thirties. So we get why she told ET, "I hated it so much because Brad was like my older brother on set and it's kind of like kissing your brother. It's weird because he's an older guy and I had to kiss him on the lips, so it was gross." It's an opinion she holds eternal, telling the outlet in 2019, "Yeah, it was gross! I stand by that. It would have been so much creepier if an 11-year-old was like, 'It was great.' You'd be like, 'There's something wrong with this child.'"

Penn Badgley

It was the best of times, and then the worst of times for frequent Gossip Girl make-out partners Badgley and Blake Lively. At one point, the actor told Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live in 2015, he considered his then-girlfriend as his greatest-ever onscreen kiss, "because we actually had a relationship at the time." As for his worst, he quipped, "Maybe Blake after we broke up."

Colin Farrell

Farrell found himself navigating a tricky tightrope when making out with Total Recall costar Kate Beckinsale. "She's married to the director," he explained to Conan O'Brien of why shooting the 2012 flick, helmed by Beckinsale's then-husband Len Wiseman was "moderately uncomfortable." The experience was "a little bit dodgy," he continued, "'cause the director, her husband, wasn't kind enough to leave the room." Perhaps he could have asked him for notes? 

Millie Bobby Brown

Is there anything worse than a surveilling husband? Brown would hazard so. Just 15 when she first landed one on Stranger Things' cohort Finn Wolfhard, "My dad was watching," she revealed. "My dad watched the whole thing, my whole family was there, and it was the most awkward thing in the world." So, we're guessing, like, a one out of 11? 

Morena Baccarin

Hazards of the job: While puckering up for Ryan Reynolds seems like a sweet gig, his Deadpool costar revealed it wasn't exactly super. "I keep saying that kissing him in that mask is like kissing a giant latex condom," she joked to People Now. "It basically just smells like rubber the entire time."

James Franco

Playing the groom to Sienna Miller's bride in 2008's Camille was actually kind of a pain, Franco shared. "I think we kissed once in that film and it wasn't at all intense—there was no rolling around or anything," he has said of the rom-com. "Sienna's molar was giving her pain so she called the dentist!"

Miles Teller

After filming romance The Spectacular Now with Shailene Woodley, the actor shared every last dirty detail at a 2013 screening. "Before our first kissing scene, Shailene took these Chinese dirt supplements and shoved them in her mouth," he recalled. "It's like a dirt pouch, and it smells like crap." Ah, eau de romance! 

This story was originally published on Wednesday, December 30, 2020 at 12 a.m. PT.