The best first kisses in movie history

The quality of a movie kiss can make or break a film. A good cinematic kiss can transport the audience right into the heart of a budding romance and help viewers care about the characters' connection, but a sloppy screen smooch can sabotage the whole theatrical experience and render a supposed love story unwatchable. Luckily, there are a few films that fans can always turn to when the need for gooey, emotional goodness strikes — because they contain some of the best first kiss scenes to ever hit the big screen.

Even the most perfect first kiss scenes in movies have a story behind them, though. From kissing cast members whose real-life relationships were purely platonic, to unexpected difficulties capturing the big moment on camera, to on-set encounters that were just plain awkward for everyone involved, here's a look at the true story behind some of cinema's most iconic first kiss scenes.

Titanic (1997)

First kiss scenes don't get much more iconic than Jack and Rose's sunset smooch on the bow of the R.M.S. Titanic. The picture perfection of the Titanic scene was largely a result of the magnificent sunset that the characters were bathed in, which was a complete stroke of luck for the filmmakers, who had to rush to capture the "I'm flying" scene before the sun would set. However, credit is due to Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet for committing to the romance of the moment, despite the fact that off-screen, they were anything but lovers. In fact, DiCaprio spent much of his time on the set trying to gross his co-star out.

Winslet would later remember, "We shot that scene... about four times, and to be honest with you, by the end of it, we were just like 'Ugh, we can't kiss each other anymore.' It just got so boring, and I had his makeup on me, and he had my makeup on him." In other words, as swoon-worthy as the scene is on-screen, it was just another grueling day at work for the stars involved.

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Any movie expert worth his or her salt will cite the scene when Leia declares her love for Han Solo, and gets a simple "I know" in return, as the most iconic romantic scene between the characters, but their first kiss aboard the Millennium Falcon was a major moment as well. There are some who now take issue with the space pirate's clear aggression in the scene, but the behind-the-scenes gossip surrounding Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher during production might shed some light on the palpable tension between the characters.

According to Fisher's final autobiography, The Princess Diarist, the two had engaged in an affair during production on the films, so they were well-prepared to lock lips during that day of shooting. She wrote, "He took my arm and drew me into the back of a taxi, moving us closer and closer until we were two faces, four eyes, one kiss, going to the place where we could rehearse that kissing we would be doing a year and a half later in The Empire Strikes Back. These were the early days and nights of the Force." As they say, practice makes perfect.

Spider-Man (2002)

We've seen plenty of superheroes kiss their leading ladies, but never quite like what happens in Spider-Man. After rescuing Mary Jane from a group of would-be muggers, Spider-Man hangs upside-down in the dripping rain and lets her unmask him just enough to plant one on him in thanks. Little does she know this is Peter Parker in disguise — he's been carrying a torch for her forever, so for him, it's a dream come true.

For Tobey Maguire, however, the moment wasn't nearly as lovey-dovey as it looked. He told the BBC that, while co-star Kirsten Dunst did most of the screen work in the shot, he was suffering in silence. "Because of all the water pouring down I couldn't breathe," he remembered. "The rain was pouring up my nose. Then she was kissing me and I couldn't breathe out of my mouth! So, I had to hold my breath while I was kissing her. I would sneak little breaths out of the corner of my mouth." Who knew a kissing scene could be the riskiest bit of an action movie?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)

Nothing says "let's make out" quite like... destroying horcruxes? In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Hermione and Ron finally decided to take their friendship to the next level after years of hiding their affection for one another — even from themselves. Once they defy the odds by effectively destroying Helga Hufflepuff's cup in the Chamber of Secrets, though, a wave literally washes over them and they decide to finally go there with a kiss.

For Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, who'd been working together since childhood, it was simply awkward. As Watson described to MTV News, "I was like, 'Do I use tongue? Do I not use tongue? Do I cover my teeth? What do I do? Do I go first? Oh my God!' I ended up pouncing on Rupert. I was so desperate to get it over. After the first take he was like, 'Whoa, there! Where did that come from?' I was like, 'Sorry!'" Luckily for everyone, that desperation seemed to have a different meaning from the audience's perspective, so all's well that ends well.

Twilight (2008)

Rarely are screen couples' first kisses this reserved. In Twilight, vampire Edward has to be extraordinarily restrained when kissing Bella because his bone-crushing bloodlust could do a lot of damage to this tiny human girl if he's not careful. So, the two take it maddeningly slow before Edward leaps away from the bed. And while it seems like all of this is purposeful for the narrative, Robert Pattinson has hinted he wasn't happy with how things turned out.

He told MTV News that it's the one scene he would re-do if he could because, even though it was also the audition scene with Kristen Stewart that would earn him the role, he had trouble pinning down exactly when to pull away. "That was a hard scene," he remembered. "I was always kind of preempting — the pull back — so I'm not sort of leaping away correctly." Twilight fans might beg to differ, of course, because it was a good precursor for a whole Saga of hesitation to follow. But it looks like the actors involved don't particularly relish revisiting this moment, even though it may have help make their screen careers.

Romeo + Juliet (1996)

When it comes to stellar adaptations of William Shakespeare's tragic romance, Baz Luhrmann's modernized take with Romeo + Juliet is not to be missed. The film helped jettison Leonardo DiCaprio into true heartthrob status, thanks to his dreamy depiction of the title hero, and Claire Danes became a household name thanks to her blissed-out leading lady routine. 

The young lovers steal a forbidden kiss just inches away from being caught in the act — it's all so torrid and innocent at the same time. Put simply, the two share some kiss chemistry that simply could not be feigned. Or could it?

Not only was the set of the film riddled with problems, including rampant illnesses suffered by the cast and crew, but when they first began filming this scene, per Entertainment Weekly, they encountered numerous unexpected hurdles. First Danes accidentally broke off a piece of the set. Then, Luhrmann told the young actors to leap into their first kiss with passion, so they took the advice a little too seriously — crashing heads and exploding into giggle fits. It apparently took around two dozen takes to get it right — and each one required the prodding from Luhrmann to get the two friends to stop thumb-wrestling and start kissing.

Lady and the Tramp (1955)

Cartoon dogs can have serious schmaltz, too! Disney's classic pooch pic Lady and the Tramp certainly features one of the more memorable cinematic kisses of all time, when the title canines share some spaghetti outside of the Italian restaurant and find themselves at either end of the same noodle. Lady bashfully turns away after their lips touch, embarrassed, but the Tramp nose-nudges the last meatball to her just as the cooks' rendition of "Belle Notte" starts to soften, and it's all just so sweet and tender and classic.

Believe it or not, the scene almost didn't make the cut. Per Yahoo Movies, Disney archivist Steven Vagnini revealed, "Walt [Disney] wasn't convinced that that would be a very clean-cut scene. As you can imagine, if you have two pets and they eat a plate of spaghetti, it's hard to envision that being too graceful." Luckily, animator Frank Thomas changed his mind by rendering a mock-up of what the scene might look like, and the rest is movie history.

Sixteen Candles (1984)

It takes an entire movie for poor Samantha to finally get an ounce of enjoyment out of her sixteenth birthday, thanks to her inattentive family and the fracas surrounding her sister's wedding. By the end of Sixteen Candles, which features many social problems that one might notice upon modern review of the film, though, her biggest wish comes true. She ends up sharing a kiss with her high school's resident dreamboat, Jake Ryan.

Actor Michael Schoeffling almost didn't get the leading man role, however, and, if it were up to Molly Ringwald, he wouldn't have... and the final kiss would've been a lot steamier. She revealed to Entertainment Weekly (via Yahoo) that she was originally rooting for Viggo Mortensen to win the role after he made her "weak in the knees" during their kiss in the audition process. But Mortensen kissing Ringwald during the audition may have been what cost him the role, considering that Schoeffling didn't kiss the actress during his audition. Bummer.

At least the two later co-starred in a film called Fresh Horses.

Love Actually (2003)

Few romantic dramedies have as lasting an impact as Love Actually, and when it comes to the movie's most meme-able scene, the unrequited love profession by Mark to Juliet has to take the cake. After an untold amount of time spent pining for his best friend's wife, Mark finally musters the courage to confess his feelings to her by showing up at her doorstep with a series of posters that reads, in part, "To me, you are perfect." Although it seems like less of a last-ditch effort to win her over and more of a desperate decision to just get it out of his system already, it does pay off with a kiss. A pity kiss, of course, but a kiss nonetheless.

Even Andrew Lincoln looks back on the ultra-memorable screen kiss with disdain, however, as he viewed his own character to be more of a scoundrel than a hopeless romantic. He even asked writer-director Richard Curtis, "Do you not think we're sort of borderline stalker territory here?" Even if it wasn't the most desirable way for a real-life guy to declare his love, it sure did make for one unforgettable movie moment.

A Walk to Remember (2002)

No matter how many times we watch A Walk to Remember, it will repeatedly break our hearts. The movie was also Mandy Moore's big break into acting. When she starred in the now-famous love story, she was only 17 years old, and one of the first scenes she had to shoot involved some onscreen smooching with co-star Shane West. Moore, unfortunately, found it extremely awkward, no matter how adorable it was to the rest of us. "You have to kiss this person that you don't know very well and you don't even have a friendship with yet," she explained to Entertainment Tonight. Hey, that's why they call it acting!

On the other hand, West's side of the story was this: "You got all these lights blaring off of your eyes and you actually do see fireworks." Needless to say, it seemed a bit simpler for him to jump right into the kissing scenes. A Walk to Remember gave them both quite a kiss to remember too.

A Cinderella Story (2004)

Waiting for Hilary Duff to kiss heartthrob Chad Michael Murray at the end of A Cinderella Story was like waiting for rain in a drought. These actors, on the other hand, had to wait only three days to film their famous first kiss up in the bleachers. "Out of those three days, I'd only worked with Chad one day," Duff explained to People, so she wasn't feeling super prepared for the iconic scene.

To make it less awkward in front of quite a big camera crew, Duff revealed that the two actually practiced locking lips in a trailer before the big moment. "It was much better than my real first kiss," she added, which makes our teen selves ten times more jealous. "But like, probably way more awkward because there were 270 people watching," she admitted. Maybe it wasn't the Cinderella story we've all dreamt of after all.

10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

There may be 10 things that Julia Stiles' character, Kat, hates about bad boy Patrick in 10 Things I Hate About You, but there is one thing she does like. When asked by Cosmopolitan who the best kisser in the business is, Stiles' response was the man who played Patrick — Heath Ledger.  

Their iconic first kiss in the film, which takes place in a pretty unexpected place and looks like the most fun date ever, left more than just paintballs flying. Sparks seemed to fly too as soon as Stiles' character, Kat, realizes that there may just be more love than hate involved when it comes to her feelings for him. "It was actually my first on screen kiss," Stiles admitted, and it was the feature role that ended up catapulting her career. 

It happened to be the same situation when it came to Ledger's fame. "It wasn't until the movie came out that that momentum kind of built," Stiles explained to News.com.au. Their careers became quite legendary after locking lips.

My Girl (1991)

Girls are gross when you're just a kid, so when young Macaulay Culkin had to kiss one in the movie My Girl, he was less than impressed. "We got along very well," he explained on The Ellen DeGeneres Show of his young co-star Anna Chlumsky, who was 10 years old at the time, "but at the same time, it was also, like, this is so embarrassing."

While the two kid characters are pretty curious in the film when it comes to kissing, there was a completely different story behind the scenes. The two adorable little stars made a pretty cute onscreen couple to audiences everywhere, but it turns out that young Chlumsky felt the exact same way as her co-star. Her response to her their first onscreen kiss was simply "yuck," as reported by Entertainment Weekly.

Notably, the scene is what helped Culkin break away from only being known from Home Alone and set him on a path to stardom, and it all started with a simple but adorable kiss as a kid. Yuck.

The Greatest Showman (2017)

Zac Efron has been a part of countless kisses on screen, and in 2017, he got the opportunity to snatch a smooch from actress Zendaya in The Greatest Showman. He later revealed it was his favorite on-screen kiss he'd ever been a part of. "I'm lucky. I'm pretty lucky," he admitted to Filmweb of his on-screen kissing resume.

However, Zendaya, on the other hand, felt like she needed to clarify for fans. "I think everybody's getting locked into the physical of a kiss, but that's not really what we're talking about," she explained to E! News when asked about the rumored romance between the two stars. "We try to take ourselves out of it and become these two characters," she told Filmweb. Their characters, who fight for a forbidden love, keep viewers on the edge of their seats waiting for that first kiss, which continues to build up over the course of the movie.