You have seen them on Cinemax, HBO, you have seen them in the theaters, and you have seen them on TV... I am talking about love scenes! They can be super steamy and sexy or not well done at all. It depends not only on the director and the actors and actresses but also the lighting, sound, editing, score, etc. to make it a titillating and exciting experience for the audience.
Doing a love scene felt to me like an out-of-body experience (and not the kind that feels like pure love and joy). If I look back at doing that first love scene I literally remember it from somebody standing to the side and watching it, not from being the actress in the scene. It was a closed set (only the director and actors, and maybe the script supervisor stay on the set). Everyone was very professional. Thankfully, I have never had anyone act inappropriately while filming a love scene. The whole event was quite technical as well. Move your body here, your arm down there, now kiss. I had what is called a "patch" over my girly bits below and my co-star wore a "sock" over his boy bits. But I was naked, pretty much. To say I felt vulnerable would be an understatement.
As an actor, it is my job to bring life to a character and believability in unreal situations. That includes love scenes. If it looks real, I have done my job. I will go on record and say it is all acting. It is NOT real, even if it looks like it is.
Here is what I can recommend to actors and actresses faced with doing a love scene:
1) Keep a positive and easy-to-work with attitude;
2) Listen to your instincts, if it feels uncomfortable, let the director know;
3) If you feel like someone is being inappropriate, stop and have a discussion with the director and whoever is being inappropriate;
4) Make sure you are respected as an actress and each person is wearing the appropriate cover ups;
5) Make sure you have a robe available in between shots;
6) Be hygienic by being showered and brush your teeth;
7) Be sensitive to the other actors wishes, everyone is in a vulnerable position;
8) Use forethought and sensitivity, do not eat onions and garlic for lunch that day;
9) Keep a toiletry bag with you of items that you may need:
b. Patch (to cover your private areas) if you cover the area with something, they cannot use the take if it is shown on film, this is for your protection!
d. Toothbrush & toothpaste
e. Washcloth & hand towel
f. Handy wipes
g. Feminine products (women only)
j. First aid kit
I started acting in 1996. I have starred or co-starred in over 20 films. I discovered this about myself: I tend to read over stuff I do not really like as if I am not going to actually have to do it. I auditioned for an independent film and got a callback. I was so excited! I read the script; it was a film about a prostitute who is a murder suspect. I was offered the part. Yay me. I saw that there were love scenes in the movie but I tend to, kind-of, you know, read-them-quickly, so-maybe-they-did-not-really-exist. I like to focus on the positive aspects of things. And royally fool myself about the negative. I wanted to work as an actress so badly. I compromised doing the nudity to do the film. Had I known that it was called "soft-core porn" I probably would never have done it. I never wanted to be a "porn" star. Granted, I have never done "hard-core porn."
I was working on a particular film with an actress who was also a stripper and very beautiful. She was a friend of several other beautiful women who were porn stars. She shared with me the thoughts and expressions of her porn star friends on what soft-core porn actresses or B-actresses were thought of. They felt bad for B-actresses who did love scenes because they did not get to "enjoy fully" their experience of doing love scenes. I understand their point, from their point of view. However, I was not in it to "get off" so I was just fine not "getting off." There is no judgment; I just was not in it for that. I was in it to further my career and work as an actress. It is not right or wrong to me; it is just a different choice. To me doing love scenes was a compromise I made in order to work as an actress.
I did a couple more soft-core films as well as other types of independent films that did not have love scenes in them. Playboy produced most of the steamy films through a company called Mystique Films. I also turned down many films. I was willing to compromise doing some nudity but if I could not use any part of the film to build my reel (a compilation of segments of an actor's work used to give to casting people or to get an agent) than I would not do it. Some of these films would only have the character copulating or talking about copulating through the entire film. That is not usable for a reel. I needed at least some substance; some footage that I could actually use to further my career.
Also, actors and actresses must consider the Internet now. Sex sells. Whatever love scenes you do on film will end up on someone's site for sale as screen captures or movie clips of you naked. You could look up Sharon Stone, Natalie Portman, Angelina Jolie, or Jessica Lange and find screen shots of them naked. At least I am not in bad company!