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13 On-Screen Couples That Were Also Off-Screen Couples

13 On-Screen Couples That Were Also Off-Screen Couples (photo)

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In the new film “Breaking Upwards,” struggling twentysomething couple Daryl and Zoe decide to address their relationship problems by planning and then executing their own breakup. Daryl is played by director/producer/editor/co-writer Daryl Wein, Zoe is played by producer/co-writer Zoe Lister-Jones, and the breakup in the film is based on the one the two went through in real life. In his director’s statement, Wein says that the duo “thought it would make it more interesting to explore the nature of performance by casting ourselves in the roles. To be in the story, as opposed to having a fictional couple play us, gives the film a true sense of authenticity.”

Actors act, and people who hate each other off-screen can spark with electricity on it and vice versa. But there is something innately fascinating, and extremely voyeuristic, about movies in which people who are or who were intimate in real life recreate — or sometimes attempt and fail to recreate — their private chemistry in the most public forum possible. Here are 13 of the most interesting examples:

04022010_BigSleep5.jpgHumphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall
“The Big Sleep”

“To Have and Have Not” (1944) introduced the world, and Humphrey Bogart, to Lauren Bacall. The combative flirtations of their characters, a symphony of cigarette lightings and double entendres, led to their intense off-screen affair. With the film a hit, a reunion in “The Big Sleep” (1946) with director Howard Hawks was fast-tracked. Before shooting began, Bogart informed Bacall that he would not leave his wife, Mayo Methot. This tension transferred to the set, where according to Todd McCarthy’s Hawks biography, Bacall was so nervous she shook while pouring a cocktail and Bogart was driven “to nights of little sleep and very heavy drinking.” That these personal tremors were successfully channeled into this fleet-footed gangster film is a testament to their artistry, as well as Hawks’ sensitive handling of actors. And as they land verbal jabs in Philip Marlowe’s office, inching closer to each other while prank-calling the cops, the suspiciously happy grins on their faces point to a couple free of worldly concerns when on the stage, wrapped up in each other’s sarcastically funny embrace. They were married later that year, and parted only when Bogart passed away in 1957.

04022010_AdamsRib.jpgKatherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy
“Adam’s Rib”

By the time of “Adam’s Rib” (1949), Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy had been seeing each other for eight years and had made five other films together. Despite Tracy’s refusal to divorce his wife because of his Catholic beliefs, he and Hepburn were an inseparable couple, cultivating the impeccable timing of a decades-long running vaudeville team. Working off a snappy script from Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin, the duo was at their sniping best in “Adam’s Rib,” playing a husband-wife team of dueling lawyers. Hepburn is the assertive feminist pushing for equal rights while Tracy is the hemming and hawing defender of the letter of the law. They face off when a battered wife (the terrific Judy Holliday) takes an errant gun shot at her philandering husband (Tom Ewell). Tracy and Hepburn’s ripostes ricochet like ping pong balls while they still manage to eye each other with the lusty leers of cooped-up teenagers. It’s the ideal marriage that they could never make official off-screen, a mix of chummy insults, fake tears, emotional blow-ups, and a transcendently forgiving kind of love.

04022010_GetawayMcQueen.jpgAli MacGraw and Steve McQueen
“The Getaway”

The story of and the making of Sam Peckinpah’s “The Getaway” are about the same thing: infidelity. The film itself is about a criminal, Doc McCoy (Steve McQueen), who gets his wife Carol (Ali MacGraw) to convince a corrupt politician to grant him early parole by any means necessary. When Doc learns what means were necessary (i.e. sexual ones), he is furious, straining the couple’s relationship far more than the stress of having to flee from the cops and other gangster foes after a botched heist. The recently divorced McQueen and a still-married MacGraw began an intense affair during filming, with the film’s three-act structure encapsulating its stars’ entire subsequent relationship, from their instant, undeniable attraction (the fire in their eyes during their euphoric swimming hole frolic is unmistakable) to McQueen’s obsessive, destructive jealousy — according to a recent Vanity Fair profile of MacGraw, Doc’s cruel treatment of Carol is eerily similar to McQueen’s paranoia after he and MacGraw married, and to his treatment of his ex-wife Neile Adams, who he once held at gunpoint after she’d cheated on him. The chemistry and the tension between the stars is palpable and the feeling that life and art are colliding in front of your eyes is inescapable.

04022010_Shampoo4.jpgWarren Beatty and Julie Christie
“Shampoo”

Hairstylist George Roundy (Warren Beatty) is trying to get in bed with wealthy businessman Lester Karpf (Jack Warden) in the hope that he’ll loan him the money to open his own salon. The problem is George is already in bed with every woman in Lester’s life, including his wife, his daughter, and his mistress. Julie Christie plays the mistress, one of George’s former lovers, and by the time “Shampoo” went into production in 1974, Beatty and Christie were former lovers too. The “McCabe and Mrs. Miller” pair had been seriously involved for four years, but when the two were separated, the notoriously promiscuous Beatty — who slept with over 12,000 women in his lifetime, according to Peter Biskind’s recent biography — would stray. Describing his behavior at the time, Beatty told Biskind in “Easy Riders, Raging Bulls,” “You get slapped a lot, but you get fucked a lot, too.” So does George, who sleeps with nearly every woman he meets but only ever pursues one of his conquests: Christie’s Jackie. In a scene near the end of the picture given added weight by the couple’s off-screen history, George tells Jackie that he can’t imagine being with anyone when he’s 50 years old except her. George tries to mend his womanizing ways, but it’s too late. The tearful apology delivered at the end of the film may be as much from Beatty to Christie as it is from George to Jackie.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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GIFs via Giphy

Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

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IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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