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Actors* Who Know How to Kiss and the Scenes that Prove It

February 22, 2014

The other day, I watched the 1985 Glenn Close – Jeff Bridges thriller Jagged Edge. The story, if you’ve never seen it, goes like this: Man is accused of murdering his wealthy wife. He hires awesome female attorney to defend him. During the course of the trial, the pair fall for each other, only the lawyer begins to think maybe the man did kill his wife. However, I’m not here to talk about the movie’s plot. I’m here to talk about kissing in movies, so on to the smooch and the first one that happens in Jagged Edge. It starts with a smile from Jeff, a step towards Glenn, and a confident, slow kiss that plainly has no tongue. This of course, made my toes curl into the fake Persian carpet beneath my feet. There’s no slo-mo, no soft focus, no camera angle to capture the actors’ best sides. There’s just Jeff giving Glenn a really extraordinary kiss that I, the observer, felt. I felt Jeff Bridges kiss me. I felt Jeff Bridges kiss me way back when I saw Jagged Edge in the cinema back in 1985. On top of that, the scene made me start thinking, not about The Top Ten Greatest Movie Kisses of All Time, but about:

Actors* Who Know How to Kiss and the Scenes that Prove It.

So what makes an actor a good kisser? Simple. A perfect ratio of lip pressure to moisture, that is, there are no lips mashed into a co-star’s teeth, no lips that are baby mush-mouth (poorly aimed lips, apart with lots of saliva), no rubber lips (lips go in different directions), no vacuum suck (no explanation needed) on the co-star’s lips, and no snail trail of spit. Wetness is not attractive on screen. Trust me on this or go and watch the spit web that stretches from Klaus Maria Brandauer ‘smouth to Kim Basinger’s in Never Say Never Again, the 80s Sean Connery remake of his earlier 60s Bond Thunderball.

I know there’s a lot of technical crap actors have to think about with screen kisses. Hitting marks, being properly lit, a crowd of people watching, make up, what the director wants. A good example is the train scene in North By Northwest. The director, Alfred Hitchcock, shot Cary Grant through glass so that the viewer has the perspective of his kiss from behind Eva Marie Saint, who’s supposed to be smushed up against the wall while being kissed by Cary Grant.

So keeping that technical stuff in mind, watch these actors in action. These are men who know their craft and know how to get the ratio correct. We’ll start kinda sweet with Toby Stephens as Edward Rochester in 2006 BBC adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre

Yeah, so Toby grabs her (Jane is played by Ruth Wilson), but just look at that Thank-you-baby-Jesus-for-what-I-have-in-my-hands that is in his kiss. So what if it all goes pear shaped for Rochester & Jane. Toby’s lips filled my little heart with glee. It’s playful, it’s sweet, it’s one of the stomach fluttery moments for me.

Then there’s Toby again, but this time as Gilbert with Helen (Tara Fitzgerald) in The 1996 adaptation of Anne Bronte’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Did you observe how it begins with that firm, even, take no prisoners action, but then eases back to linger on a hair’s breath that you feel, ahem, I mean I feel tickle over my own mouth.

I’ll give a nod to the rather unexpected Colin Firth, who incidentally does not ring my bell as Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy in Pride in Prejudice, except he does as Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones’ Diary.

Yay! A total lack of a spit trail. This kiss says, I know exactly what I’m doing, which culminates in his “Oh, Yes they fucking do,” reply to her “Nice boys don’t kiss like that.” And again, toes grab into fake Persian Rug.

This brings me to Clive Owen his tee, and his quick-quick, slow-slow foxtrot he does on my, I mean Kelly MacDonald’s mouth in Gosford Park.

The whole shebang is offset by his little post kiss ‘whoo’ which, I have to confess, were my exact thoughts. My toes dug into faux wool and the rest of me dissolved into a little puddle. Much like Kelly MacDonald does onscreen.

But the actor whose screen kiss astounded me with its perfection, that had me sink onto the pale blue reproduction Kashmiri carpet and gasp and gasp, and gasp, is Paul Rudd. There are no lips mashed into his co-star’s teeth, no baby mush-mouth, no rubber lips, no vacuum suck, no snail trail of spit. Oh, Paul, how I wish that woman onscreen had really and truly been me.

After such a flawless moment it doesn’t seem fair to discuss the actors whose onscreen kisses have left my toes straight and cold on my phony oriental rug, because Simon Baker might be watching this and feel bad.

*By actors I mean male actors.

About the author:

Sandra Antonelli writes quirky romance novels for grown ups & smart asses, which, despite the “grown up” bit, means she has a juvenile sense of humour and a penchant for wisecracks. She is a PhD candidate at Queensland University of Technology with a deep abiding love for coffee, rat terriers, peanut butter, and cookies. Her books A Basic Renovation and For Your Eyes Only were released by Escape Publishing in 2013.

You can find her on twitter @sandrAntonelli and her website

11 Comments leave one →
  1. February 22, 2014 9:59 am

    Reblogged this on Sandra Antonelli and commented:
    I did a “Special Guest Star” shot on the Read Watch Play where they Talk about reading, watching and playing every month. This month’s theme was ‘smoochreads’ or in my case, ‘Smoochwatch.’

  2. February 22, 2014 10:31 am

    What a lovely sigh-worthy treat for a Saturday morning!

  3. February 22, 2014 11:19 am

    I’m moved, I just want to run off and snog someone to put all this new theory into practice!

  4. February 22, 2014 1:18 pm

    HOW CAN YOU NOT HAVE RICHARD ARMITAGE IN THIS LINEUP, WOMAN???? Although you do have some lovely ones. Here is a spoiler from the end of North and South that I might have watched one or two times…

    • February 22, 2014 5:37 pm

      I never fle Richard kiss me, Imelda.

      • February 22, 2014 7:20 pm

        If you’re waiting to fle him, that would be your trouble, Sandra! I don’t care, it’s the eyes and the lead up and the oh forget it I just get incoherent. I’ll be fleing things too in a minute. De gustibus non es disputandem (fortunately for Richard)!

  5. February 22, 2014 1:26 pm

    Also, best prelude to a kiss ever:

  6. February 22, 2014 1:42 pm

    And this, the most adorkable kiss of all time, arguably (not Richard, this time):

  7. February 22, 2014 3:13 pm

    What a diverting post Sandra! I find it’s all in the lead up too, how wonderful that end kiss is. For example, Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe in North and South,
    Also Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen in Pride and Prejudice,
    Oops, there’s not even a kiss there and I thought there was, how powerful!


  1. Actors* Who Know How to Kiss and the Scenes that Prove It | Sandra Antonelli

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