Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie met for the first time on the set of this film. The first scene they had to shoot was the sex scene, as Roeg wanted to "get it out of the way" and then move on to the "bone" of the matter. Christie was terrified.
The famous sex scene between Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie was a last minute on-set idea from director Nicolas Roeg who felt that otherwise the film would have too many scenes of the couple arguing. Most of the scenes around it are improvised.
In 2011, both co-star Donald Sutherland and producer Peter Katz issued denials to the longstanding rumor that Sutherland and Julie Christie had engaged in unsimulated intercourse during their characters' sex scene.
In order to avoid an X-certificate rating for the film's American release, 9 frames (less than half a second) had to be cut from the intimate love sequence between Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie.
Whe he appeared on Inside the Actors Studio, Donald Sutherland recounted the story of how the (In)famous sex scene was actually shot and that it was anything but a sexy or erotic experience for those involved. He and Julie Christie were on the set at 7 a.m. in dressing gowns, waiting downstairs while the room was prepared and both had a glass of champagne to calm their nerves.Inside the room was director Nic Roeg and cinematographer Tony Richmond, each operating their own Mitchell 35mm camera.Sutherland and Chiststie disrobed and got onto the bed and Roeg and Richmond began filming. The huge Mitchell cameras were unblimped (unsilenced)and as the room was oak pannelled the noise from the two cameras was amplified hugely. At the same time, Roeg began shouting directions (over the noise of the cameras)to the actors such as "Lick her nipples" "Put your hand between her legs" "Get on top" etc.The shoot lasted until well into the afternoon before Roeg was satisfied and wrapped.