Dear Michael: I’ve scored a very small speaking role in one of those crime reenactment shows. Not real “work,” but it pays reasonably well. I’m playing a 1920s bad boy who ends up killing his lover’s husband. The sex scene will be done with no full nudity, but there is kissing and it has to look real.
The big problem is, I’m in a very committed relationship of five years and have a very jealous partner who forbids kissing and sex scenes. So I’m having second thoughts, but I just can’t help wondering if this type of scene is a good career move, momentum-wise, especially since this will be my third paid gig in two months.
I love my partner with all my heart, and if I’m able to support us by playing roles that involve kissing and intimacy, is that a fair compromise? After all, it is only acting. If I were to go the other way by putting a clause in my contract that says no to kissing and intimacy, will I be limiting myself too much in my opportunities, particularly with the above types of roles? —Hell Bent
Dear Hell Bent: When you posted this question on our message board, I was surprised to see several readers suggesting you shouldn’t be with someone who’s uncomfortable with you doing love scenes. I disagree. I think those of us with non-showbiz spouses and partners need to recognize that for most people in most professions, engaging in intimate behavior with co-workers while working would be outrageously abnormal. So cut your partner a break and factor his or her feelings into your decision.
I recommend having a calm, rational, and above all collaborative conversation. Talk over the pros and cons, including the career limitations of a “no kissing” policy and whether love scenes pose any threat to your relationship. If you decide to put your foot down, make sure it’s for the role of a lifetime.
Last year, I was offered an amazing role that involved some sexual carrying-on. I discussed it with my wife. Instead of taking a stand, I asked her what she thought. Once we talked it over, she said, “You have to do it. It’s too good a part. But I don’t want to visit you on set during this one.” That was our particular compromise, and I think it was more than reasonable.
Contrary to how many actors think, there are important things besides our careers (shocking, I know). If you love this person, and he or she loves you, and you’re good for each other, doesn’t that count for something? No role, as far as I’m concerned, is worth trashing a loving relationship. That’s what addicts do. Other, better opportunities will come. But how often will you meet someone with whom you want to spend your life?