Sunday, November 29, 2009

Kati Talks On Screen Chemistry

In high school, I passed chemistry literally by the skin of my teeth. I barely made it. I couldn't tell you a damn thing about it now.

But that's not the kind of chemistry I'm talking about . Rather, that intangible thing that happens either on screen or on the page that makes you yearn for a couple to be together. You know what I mean.

Do you remember the episode of Friends when Rachel and Ross finally kissed? I screeched when it happened. I couldn't have been happier for them than I would have been if it had happened to one of my friends. And why was that? It was because the writers had very cagily had them circle each other for the better part of a season, and as viewers, we got to see first Ross be frustrated by Rachel's love life, and then, just as Rachel finally realizes how he feels, he comes home with a girlfriend. Anyway, they built the tension between the two of them in a way that made you root for them to be together.

The movie Out of Sight is another excellent example of chemistry. In that case, it was George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez. He plays a crook, she a federal marshal. She is inadvertently kidnapped by one of his henchman during a prison break, and the two of them spend an incredibly steamy 20 minutes in the trunk of the get away car. It's one of the least erotic settings that makes for an incredibly hot scene.

My favorite example of sexual tension on the screen though, is Buffy and Angel. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm generally a Spike girl, but Sarah Michelle Geller and David Boreanaz had the best chemistry I've ever seen on screen. Much of that had to do with SMG and David, but most of it, I think was due to the genius of Joss Whedon, who wrote the series. He just "got" it. The relationship between Angel and Buffy was insurmountable for many reasons, but mostly because he was a vampire, and she was, well...a vampire slayer. And when they finally did get it on, things just went from bad to horrible. The worst possible thing happened. It was genius, and tragic, and made up the best single season of television ever, IMHO.

So, what makes for good chemistry? Is it the actors? Is it the writing? Is it just an unidentifiable intrinsic thing? What do you think are some of the most successful chemistry experiments on TV or on the Big Screen? Who are your favorite couples?


Kris said...

I am totally with you, Kati, on Buffy and Angel. I remember watching that end scene at the club after Buffy has found out that Angel is a vampire and he has saved her. It still gives me delicious shivers.

I think it's a combination of script, actors, etc as you mentioned, but a part of me also says that none of it could happen without the right master of his craft/director to be able to tease all of this out and give the audience that intangible something.

Kati said...

Oooh, Kris! The scene where they dance (and kiss?) in The Bronze and when she steps away from him, her cross is burned on his chest?

Sooo delicious!

I think you're right. It takes craft. But it also takes the actors somehow sparking off each other, doesn't it? It's definitely a fine line.

Anonymous said...

I have never seen 'Friends' or 'Buffy' or the movie you mentioned, but there is nothing like great chemistry between characters on the screen or in a book.
When it comes to visual things it has to be the longing and smoldering looks. While a great sexy script is good, its the smoldering longing looks that make me curl my toes. So the actors have to be good at that.
In books...its the knowing what is between the characters as they struggle to get to that place where they don't hold back any longer.
The best book I read this year that depicted such chemistry was the YA book named for it: "Perfect Chemistry" by Simone Elkelese - smoldering hot chemistry and a phenomenal book that I highly recommend.
Some parents may not what younger teens reading it, lots of cursing, gang violence and some sex.
I loved it, its in my 10 top favorite books list because of the chemistry between the hero and his heroine.

Kati said...

Hi MsM, oh your post is perfect! I'll be talking about chemistry in books tomorrow.

And *GASP* you've never seen Buffy??? Oh girl. You've missed out!

Bev(QB) said...

One of the most memorable for me was waaaaay back on L.A. Law (before it sucked). Grace (Susan Dey) and Victor (Jimmy Smits, who was on my One Night Stand wishlist) FINALLY did the hot, steamy nasty (on her dining room table). I actually stood up and hollered out loud, "Go for it, Gracie!"

JenB said...

(OMG did Bev really just comment before me??? Hi Bev!! *waves*)

Looooved Ross and Rachel. I also love Ted and Robin on HIMYM, and I'm nervous that she prolly won't end up with him. :(

Joey and Pacey were pretty good too.

OMG but you know what couple I looooved? Felicity and Noel. *sigh* Noel was such a sweetheart.

Kati said...

Bev - I think Jimmy Smits has incredible chemistry with ever actress he's opposite of. He was amazing on NYPD Blue too.

Jen- I know what you mean about Ted and Robin. They probably won't end up together, but I still root for them. I hated her with Barney. I'm glad that's over with!

Renee said...

Great food for thought, Kati!

I think that yes, writing and direction is important, but if there isn't that intangible "something" between the actors, it is doomed to fall flat, regardless of the talent.

Of course, I'm trying to think of a movie example, but totally drawing a blank. (I'm still on my first coffee of the morning.) But, it's definitely an, "I know it when I see it" thing.

Kati said...

You know who else had great chemistry? Bogart and Bacall? Incendiary chemistry.

Or Spencer and Hepburn.

KT Grant said...

I always though Monica and Chandler from Friends had more chemistry together than Ross and Rachel.

Captain John and Captain Jack from Torchwood have such smexin chemistry. OMG that kiss they share before they beat the crap out of each other is so hot.

Bridget Locke said...

I agree w/ you, though I think James Marsters & SMG had great chemistry too. I am, and always will be, a Spike girl. :)

Two of my favorites are Alyssa Milano & Julian McMahon as Cole & Phoebe on Charmed. I didn't really care for the show that much, but thought their chemistry was amazing. That love story killed me. *sniffle*

The other was Jennifer Garner & Michael Vartan as Sydney Bristow & Vaughn. Le sigh. The fans waited so long for this moment and then BAM. Here it is-

Karen W. said...

I'm so with you on Buffy and Angel. One of my all-time favorite TV couples.

I'll never forget the devastation and mix of emotions I felt at the end of the second season when Buffy has to stab Angel and send him to hell, and then she leaves town. "Close your eyes..."

Such an incredible show. I still miss it so much. I always refused to answer the phone on Tuesday nights. :)

Tracy said...

Ditto on KB's Torchwood scene - that was an uber hot one.

I love Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks in You've Got Mail finally kissing in the park. So great. And John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale at the end of Serendipity. *sigh* love that.

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