He leaned in. I could feel his breath on my lips, his hair tickled my forehead. We hardly knew each other. It was thrilling. When we finally kissed, it was playful at first, then something sparked and the kiss became deeper, more passionate. We were in love! And we pulled at each other, wanting to lose ourselves in the blissful feeling. I was turned ON. Or at least, I hope that's what came across to my husband who was watching us from the other room.
"Cut!" my husband, Jack Lewars, yelled and the crew of 30 let out a collective exhale. Our director of photography (and a good friend) yelled from behind the camera:
"Jack, did you forget to yell cut??"
"I was too busy clenching my fist!" my husband replied, giving me a wink.
Jay Della Valle, my costar, turned to me: "That's a good sign!"
My husband is a film director, and I'm an actress. We were shooting our indie-rock-romance-of-a-feature-film, Mount Joy, and it was a heat-wave kind of day. We were all crammed into a musty basement we revamped as a studio apartment. It was the first day of shooting, and I had only met my costar, Jay, twice during auditions. Jay is handsome. The kind of handsome that makes a girl second-guess who's the prettier one in the relationship. Because the answer is him.
Action! Kiss! Cut! Flirt to keep the love alive in between takes! Action! Kiss! Cut! The gaffer fixes a light. The makeup girl touches up my lipstick. The camera is set back to its first position. And we go for another 10 takes. Is this really my life? Can it possibly be my JOB to make my husband jealous?
Jack is the most kind, loving person I've ever known (hence the ring I willingly wear), but under no circumstances is he comfortable with me making out with someone else. So how do I deal with this, when it is literally my job — at times — to make out with people other than my husband?
When Jack and I first started dating, I never felt the need to tell him when I kissed another actor. But as we got more serious, I felt guilty keeping it a secret. Once, when we were out to dinner, discussing the day I had in rehearsals for a new play, I casually mentioned the kiss that was part of the project (yes, I did that fake casual thing where you say something difficult like it's no biggie). Jack fumed; I got defensive, which led to one of our first major fights, and it was explosive.
Jack is a director, so he did have a certain amount of understanding that these circumstances were par-for-the-job. But when it all became a reality for him (like, My girlfriend kissed another guy today), it was emotional, not logical. He ultimately didn’t want to not know. He thought he should at least get a heads-up beforehand about the prospective jobs that involved physical intimacy.
With time and honesty and careful consideration of each others feelings (is this the actual definition of marriage??), we’ve fallen into sort of a loose routine that goes something like this. I tell him about the project, including, yes, the physical expectations. He listens as I talk — about my feelings on the project and the role and the people involved — and then I decide, on my own, to go forward or not.
Not only has this made my kissing other people on set a non-issue for us, but it’s also been quite liberating for my career. I’ve turned down jobs after hearing myself say things like, “It’s not that great of a role,” or “The rehearsal schedule is grueling,” or even “It doesn’t pay” — hell, you’d think I would have turned those jobs down anyway!
What if the roles were reversed, you ask? What if my husband were an actor who stood by the ridiculous notion that it's complicated work kissing beautiful girls? I would rage and scream and probably suffer from stress-induced nightmares. I would put up a fight, every time, and probably give Jack an ultimatum — it's them or me!!!
I know what you’re thinking: I'm a hypocrite. I don't think I could marry an actor. Let's be real. The person who marries an actor is a glutton for punishment. Jack, my sweet, bigger-person-than-I-am husband is some kind of masochist. This is the only sound explanation.
I admit, though, that there are definitely perks, for us both. I am a faithful wife. I've never abused the plethora of opportunities I’ve had to run with the heat of the manufactured moment and risk the trust it took Jack and I years to build.
Maybe the happily-married-for-almost-a-decade-woman isn’t necessarily the person you might expect to light the bed on fire at night. And yet, a good romp in the hay with my hubby is inevitably the end result of dealing with those sticky situations on set. Partly because I’ve spent all day willing myself to feel turned on. Partly because I'm thrilled by the trust he has in me. And mostly because he really is the only one I want.
Back to shooting Mount Joy.
The scene ended, and Jay and I collapsed in a heap on the well-lit bed. We are wearing less clothes than when we started. I am wearing those plastic pasties on my nipples — I call them chicken cutlets.
This is so I can remain decent in a room of 30 crew, my hunky costar, and my amazing husband. Just another day in the life of a happily married actress.