Emma Samms: Giving romance a chance
09:28 14 February 2017
‘Having to jump into bed with a virtual stranger, with the film crew as an audience, was never any fun’
Last year I was listening to a radio phone-in show and the topic of conversation was office romances. One lady happily reported that she and her husband had met at work and were now, ten years down the line, living happily ever after. After that there were a number of people bemoaning the dangers of the office romance with various stories of awkward encounters after the relationship was over.
The final call before the news, and what they clearly thought was the pinnacle of office romance disasters, was a woman who’d had to sit at the very same desk as her ex boyfriend for six whole months after they had split up.
Now I’m not normally one for participating in a radio phone-in but on this occasion I couldn’t resist playing the trump card of all workplace romance horror-stories. I didn’t actually phone in, I sent a text, which I was pleased to hear being read out after the news. “You think sitting at the same desk is bad? I’m an actress on a long-running soap opera and I was dating the man who was playing my husband. After we split up we still had to regularly kiss each other.”
After this was read out, there was a moment of silence, a groan of horror from the radio hosts who then conceded there was nothing they could really say to that and moved on to the next topic.
It is, of course, more often than not, a huge mistake to date the people you work with. Though as many hard-working people know, it’s quite hard to meet people anywhere else.
Offices aren’t exactly romantic environments, but neither are movie or television sets either. Even when one is filming in a beautiful location, when there’s a decent budget to look after the cast and crew and even when the film itself is all about romance, the good ‘chemistry’ between lead actors is far from guaranteed. I’ve noticed that films, (which are never shot in sequence, story-wise), often schedule the bed scenes in the first week of production. Sometimes even on the first day. This is clearly just in case the actor and actress end up hating each other. Likewise, they often schedule the stunts for the last day, in case they kill you.
Having to jump into bed with a virtual stranger, with the film crew as an audience was never any fun. Well, it wasn’t for me anyway. Perhaps some people might feel differently but we certainly don’t need to get into that here…
Films are rarely shot at the time of year that they are set in, resulting in the actors having to wear heavy coats in the summer and swimwear in the winter. I was filming a supposedly very romantic scene from Dynasty with the actor John James on a beach just outside of Los Angeles. It was at night, it was in November and it was chilly. So chilly, in fact, that our breath was showing in the night air. The standard trick to alleviate this issue is to make the actors suck on ice cubes right before the scene starts, which is frankly the last thing you want to do if you’re already shivering in your swimsuit.
The coldest I’ve ever been on a film set was in a potato field just outside of Sofia, Bulgaria. My character was a police officer who, in this particular scene, managed to get herself shot and killed. I was wearing as many layers of thermals as I could fit under my clothes (increased profile be damned) but the temperature was -13C and I had to lie down on the ground for quite some time as the scene continued in the foreground. At one point the director stopped the scene and shouted that he couldn’t see the blood on my costume and they needed to apply some more. The prop guys duly dumped half a bucket of the liquid fake blood all over me. Unfortunately the director had to stop the scene again a number of times after that because he could see me shivering, which I couldn’t stop no matter how hard I tried.
So these working conditions are uncomfortable and unglamorous and not exactly conducive to romance, but I suppose romance can happen anywhere, at any time, in the most unexpected of circumstances. And if you think you might have found true love, if you think this could be ‘The One’, then I say give romance a chance. Wherever you are.
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