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

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.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.