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The rom-com kiss is the moment we wait for all movie: it’s breathtaking, spin-tingling and, you know, sometimes, a little awkward — but certainly always choreographed. Whether it’s a gentle peck or a full-on smooch, the highly-anticipated kiss between the two leads takes a lot more thought and direction than just, “lean in and pucker up!”
We asked some of the directors and stars behind a collection of the most iconic rom-com kisses out there how they mastered that lip-locking action.
The Princess Diaries
All Mia (Anne Hathaway) wanted was her foot to pop — a sure-fire sign of a swoon-worthy peck — and in the penultimate scene, she gets her wish when she puckers up with crush Michael (Robert Schwartzman). But it wasn’t an entirely smooth moment for Schwartzman. “Anne’s dad was on set that day,” says the actor. “I was really nervous — kissing someone’s daughter in front of them? That’s weird!” Still, it ended up a glowing success. “The foot pop cues the lights going on in the garden,” Schwartzman explains. “But they didn’t rehearse it with the lights, so I was so surprised; the magic of it was truly genuine for me.”
Bridget Jones’ Diary
For director Sharon Maguire, there always had to be snow during that waited-all-movie-for-it smooch between Bridget (Renee Zellweger) and Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). “I knew snow would elevate it and give it that classic, It’s a Wonderful Life feel,” says Maguire. While the weather was guaranteed, Bridget’s clothing was not. “Having her in her underwear was a controversial late-comer decision,” explains the director. Writer Richard Curtis argued that it’d been a running gag throughout so made sense, but Zellweger had one stipulation. “Renee said, ‘If the undies are funny, I’ll do it,’” says Maguire. Sounds like an occasion for genuinely tiny zebra-print knickers!
(500) Days of Summer
We all know first kisses can be awkward, and Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer’s (Zooey Deschanel) copy room lip-lock is exactly — and intentionally — that. Drawing from a real-life experience of his own, director Marc Webb cut the originally-scripted, more “phony” kissing scene and opted for the authentic, in-office embrace instead. “It was thrilling, disempowering, a little wacky and sort of brave all at once,” says Webb. “And I think that’s what Summer was.”
“It’s a big deal when you kiss someone for the first time and often movies take it for granted,” says director/writer Cameron Crowe. So, when it came to directing Jerry (Tom Cruise) and Dorothy’s (Renee Zellweger) first kiss, Crowe had some advice ready. “I thought it’d be great if we really explored every little stage of being close to somebody for the first time,” he says. “Let’s not be movie stars about it; let’s be real people. Let’s let her shiver, let him blush, let him break the strap on her dress.” Cruise broke the damn strap.
Never Been Kissed
It’s not that Josie Geller (Drew Barrymore) had never been kissed, she’d just never been kissed and felt that thing. You know, the “everything around you becomes hazy” thing, as Josie explains it to her friends in an early scene in the movie. Nothing like asking your crush to come kiss you in the middle of a full baseball stadium to raise the stakes. Director Raja Gosnell felt the pressure staging that literal mic-drop moment too. “It was kind of a nightmare,” he says. “Drew was dead sick and as a director, I’m thinking, ‘Okay, I’ve got a film called Never Been Kissed, if I f— this up, I never work again.” In the end though, all that drama was just background haze with Gosnell cracking the winning formula: “Drew Barrymore, some good editing and the score — and that’s it!” says Gosnell. “That’s your crying moment.”
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