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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

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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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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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…


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.


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).


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.


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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