Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Steam on my television

I was thinking yesterday about chemistry between actors and wondering how much of it is in the performance and how much of it is in the writing.

When I think back about scenes that scorched on screen for me, most of them were from TV, and I think that's because I've invested so much in this couple that I'm overjoyed when they finally get together.

Buffy and Spike are first in my mind. When they finally sexed that house to the ground in season 6, I was fanning myself from the heat coming off my television.

Spike wanted her SO much for so long that when she finally consented I knew how much he poured his desire into her.

I heard from someone who worked on Buffy that almost every time a female actress did a guest spot on the show, she wanted to have a love scene with Spike. Apparently James Marsters is just fucking hot.

So actor with good writing, coming together?

I was thinking this because I've been enchanted by the Canadian show that's now on Syfy, Lost Girl, and the incredible chemistry between the leads. I mean, Kris Holden-Ried is hot as hell, which probably helps, but in every scene he has with the lead (Anna Silk), they burn up the set together. Even dialogue-heavy scenes between them are hot.

Usually it takes an entire season, or six, to get to a point where you feel that energy, but I felt it from the very first kiss between them, which happened in the pilot.

Yet sometimes you'll have characters come together in a way that is supposed to get me all hot and bothered, but I got nothin. And I wonder if the relationship between them just wasn't set up very well or are the actors just not compatible. I dunno.

It's just a thing I was thinking about.


  1. I've really studied this question myself, and I believe that it's partly real chemistry between the actors, but mostly it's talent on one or both of the actor's parts (and when it's only one of them, you can always tell which one). There are some excellent actors who can't sell sex such as Hugh Laurie; I have my theories about why he can't. I don't think it can be written or directed, although certainly both can support the atmosphere if executed well.
    I have to check out Buffy because I haven't seen that one, but a while ago I wrote up a top ten list of TV's Hottest Couples. Check it out on my blog at

  2. There's also a history of strong onscreen chemistry resulting from actors who hated each other in real life, or didn't get along on set.

    It's said that was the case for Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepard on Moonlighting, Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing, Nick Nolte and Barbara Streisand in Prince of Tides, it's said about Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon in Walk the Line, Richard Gere and Debra Winger in Officer and a Gentleman, and I've even heard that Sarah Michelle Gellar and David Boreanz didn't along that well and hated each other by the end.

    So maybe it's chemistry, but maybe bad chemistry helps portray a fiery relationship.

  3. I think that the influences are so subtle. When it works, pretty well everyone in the credits [from cinematographer to accountants] is to
    blame, so to speak!

    Bridges of Madison County
    Eastern Promises
    Reality Bites

  4. HOWEVER...

    In the beginning...there is only the script. Everyone involved in the production looks to IT for guidance.

    "How, exactly, will I do my job?"

    "What, exactly, needs to be done?"

    The Director is the biggest influence on the production.

    The Writer is the biggest influence on the Director...

  5. I would weigh heavier on the performance side. My argument:

    Twilight: horribly written, horribly acted, horrible on-screen chemistry.
    Groundhog Day: Well-written, well acted, but no chemistry between the two characters, so although we're satisfied at the end, the love story isn't really what satisfies us.
    Cruel Intentions: Not especially well written, but the acting saved it. I still have dreams about that kiss between Sarah Michelle Gellar and Selma Blair. Mmmm.
    Silence of the Lambs: Exceptionally well-written, exceptionally well-acted, and the chemistry is one of the most-discussed in all of film.

    So as far as chemistry, I think it's all about the acting. But as a writer, you can sure as hell help the actors along.

  6. The Tourist. Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. Excellent actors, but zero chemistry.

  7. hihihi
    i also thinking about chemistry


Please leave a name, even if it's a fake name. And try not to be an asshole.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.