'Unfaithful' at 20: Diane Lane recalls hurting her neck after '50 takes' of same sex scene

Sex scenes are notoriously uncomfortable for most actors to film, for very obvious reasons. They’re not usually an injury hazard, though.

That was, however, the case for Diane Lane on the set of Unfaithful, Adrian Lyne’s steamy dramatic thriller in which Lane scored an Academy Award nomination for her visceral portrayal of a suburban New Yorker who cheats on her husband (Richard Gere) when she indulges in a torrid affair with a Frenchman (Olivier Martinez) she meets in the city. (Unfaithful was released in theaters 20 years ago Sunday).

The actress herniated her neck while filming the first sexual encounter between Connie (Lane) and Paul (Martinez), which plays in flashback as Connie cries while riding the Metro North back to her affluent home where she has a young son with Edward (Gere).

“Olivier was giving his all and he was giving me all of his body weight,” Lane told us during a 2015 Role Recall interview (watch above, with Unfaithful starting at 3:30). “And the camera had to see me — I guess it’s sort of maybe like porn, I don’t know — what do you need to see while you’re accomplishing what needs to be accomplished?

“So here we are, I’m trying to let the camera see me, and I’m holding him, and I have to come up and kiss him at the same time. I mean, we’ve must’ve done 50 takes. So my neck finally went out. And I didn’t know it till the next day.”

UNFAITHFUL, Olivier Martinez, Diane Lane, 2002, TM & Copyright (c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved.
Olivier Martinez and Diane Lane in 2002's Unfaithful. (Photo: 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved.)

The injury limited Lane’s physical capabilities as the production moved on.

“There’s one scene you see me in the film… I’m laying down on the bed,” she recalled. “I’m just doing the scene laying down because that’s all I could do at that point. I could just lay down and lean over and talk to him and say the lines [laughs]. And at that point, they took me to the hospital and got me an MRI.”

Unfaithful turned out to be one of Lane’s most acclaimed roles, and the only one to net her an Oscar nomination, but it proved costly for the Outsiders and Judge Dredd actress, who went on to star in the DC Extended Universe as Superman’s mom Martha Kent and in the television drama House of Cards.

“I’m still getting work done for that,” she laughed.