These Celebrity Pairs Have Insanely Good On-Screen Chemistry

Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Chemistry! It’s not just that science class we painfully stumbled with in high school. It’s also that indescribable spark between two people that — when it’s the right two people — you can actually feel through a screen. That’s why some co-stars are coupled up time and time again (and what a Joy to see you reunited, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper). Even when they’re playing different characters, there’s just no denying the chemistry between them.

Take, for example, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. They made us laugh, cry, and root for them as a modern-day couple in Crazy, Stupid, Love. Then, they sizzled in 1949 L.A. as a star-crossed gangster’s girlfriend and the police officer tasked with taking said thug down in Gangster Squad.

The countdown is officially ON until we see Gosling and Stone crackling opposite one another, once again, on the silver screen. Still, we need to get our jollies somehow. In the meantime, enjoy this compilation of stars throughout the ages whose on-screen chemistry is undeniable. In some cases, it even translated into off-screen relationships or subsequent on-screen pairings. Hubba hubba.
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Amy Adams & Christian Bale, American Hustle (2013)
Sometimes it's hard to believe that one half of a couple would continue to support the other half, despite his or her unappealing actions. But these two convince us that they'll never walk away from each other, no matter how tough things get.
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Rose Byrne & Seth Rogen, Neighbors (2014)
These two seem to be comically inspired by each other in every scene, and they make ideal improv partners.
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Nicole Kidman & Tom Cruise, Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Sometimes the best way to play a convincingly exasperated couple is to be one in real life.
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Natalie Portman & Jude Law, Closer (2004)
This has to be one of the rawest, most moving breakup scenes of all time. And it only works because we honestly believe these characters are broken up inside. The dialogue is melodramatic, but it doesn't matter; they cry, we cry.
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Gugu Mbatha-Raw & Nate Parker, Beyond the Lights (2014)
She’s an overly sexualized world-famous pop star who’s allowed her domineering mother and Svengali-esque producer to shape her career thus far. He’s a straight-laced police officer and aspiring politician who’s never even been on a plane. Together, they join the Mile High Club and help each other in so many other ways.
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Zhang Ziyi & Takeshi Kaneshiro, House of Flying Daggers (2004)
When they meet, Mei (Ziyi) is a blind dancer who has been taken prisoner in hopes that she’ll lead police to the rebel group, known as the House of the Flying Daggers. Jin (Kaneshiro) is a police captain who pretends to be a warrior, and helps Mei break out of prison to return to the Flying Daggers, leading authorities to them in the process. The only problem is the undeniable attraction between them — and the fact that they’re both pretending to be several things that they’re not. Come for the incredibly choreographed dance and fight scenes, but stay for the moments when Mei and Jin finally give into their feelings for one another al fresco.
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Adèle Exarchopoulos & Léa Seydoux, Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013)
Adèle (Exarchopoulos) is a teenager whose appetite for everything — from food and love to pleasure and desire — leaps off the screen in a visceral, gustatory experience that few films manage to evoke in viewers. When she spots the blue-haired Emma (Seydoux) on the street, it’s only a matter of time before the two begin an intense, passionate romance.
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Heath Ledger & Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Only Jack Twist (Gyllenhaal) could make a man of few words, Ennis Del Mar (Ledger), romp around naked in a stream up on Brokeback Mountain. And, of course, that scene in the tent
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Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie, Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)
Even when they’re doing the angry tango, it’s hot as hell.
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Ethan Hawke & Julie Delpy, Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight (1995, 2004, 2013)
Just kiss already!
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Ryan Gosling & Rachel McAdams, The Notebook (2004)
He wrote to her for seven years! It wasn’t still isn’t over. [Commence kissing in the rain and the fluttering of a million hearts.] Also, only Gosling and McAdams could make the "If you're a bird, I'm a bird" scene err more on the side of cute young lovers saying stupid-but-endearing things to each other rather than just hilariously bad screenwriting (which it so easily could have been with different actors).
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Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton, Cleopatra (1963)
The on- and off-screen couple continued their tumultuous relationship in films such as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Taming of the Shrew, The Comedians, and Doctor Faustus. It was on the set of Cleopatra where they met and fell in love, resulting in one of the first global tabloid scandals.
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Kate Winslet & Leonardo DiCaprio, Titanic (1997)
Unfortunately, the heat between the young lovers was no match for the icy waters of the northern Atlantic. (Too soon?) At least they were reunited aboard the Titanic in heaven.
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Clark Gable & Vivien Leigh, Gone With the Wind (1939)
As with some chemical reactions, Rhett Butler (Gable) and Scarlett O’Hara (Leigh) were just too volatile to last.
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Emma Stone & Andrew Garfield, The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
Now that Hollywood is just laughing at us by rebooting Spider-Man yet again, it’s difficult to hark back to the last time we wondered whether it was necessary to fire up the franchise so soon after the amusing third entry into the Tobey Maguire/Kirsten Dunst saga. Once Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone hit the screen as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy, however, everyone shut the hell up and braced for impact (“impact” here meaning makeout sessions on the roof, in his bedroom, and anywhere else they could squeeze them in). Of course these two started dating in real life; do you see the spark between them?
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Ryan O’Neal & Ali McGraw, Love Story (1970)
Smart, verbal sparring paved the way for a coffee date, which of course led to one of the saddest love stories of all time.
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Dev Patel & Freida Pinto, Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
She was his proverbial lifeline growing up in the slums of Mumbai, and then his actual one on Who Wants to be a Millionaire?. Jai ho!
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Natalie Portman & Mila Kunis, Black Swan (2010)
Did this scene actually happen, or was it just the ecstasy-fueled dream of an extremely repressed character? Either way, Nina (Portman) and Lily’s (Kunis) personal and professional tension spurred them to do some of their best work — even if that led to Nina's complete breakdown. Sometimes chemistry yields disastrous results. Just ask our high school science teachers.
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Angela Bassett & Taye Diggs, How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998)
To be fair, Taye Diggs could probably help anyone with a pulse get their groove back. In this specific cinematic example; however, he helped Angela Bassett as the titular Stella.
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Patrick Swayze & Demi Moore, Ghost (1990)
A potter’s wheel and a lump of clay have never looked quite so supernaturally sensual. Patrick Swayze’s abs may have everything to do with it.
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Meg Ryan & Billy Crystal, When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Can a man and a woman really ever just be friends? Not according to this movie. Then again, maybe Harry (Crystal) and Sally (Ryan) weren’t the best examples to put forth as a platonic friendship ideal, what with their love/hate sparring that was so obviously going to blossom into the former. He’s even willing to endure the hour and a half it takes for her to order a sandwich. That’s soulmate status right there.
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Katharine Hepburn & Cary Grant, Bringing Up Baby (1938)
Hepburn and Grant showcased their ability to engage in screwball hijinks and flirting at their very finest in this 1938 comedy, one of four films they made together.
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Mickey Rourke & Kim Basinger, 9 ½ Weeks (1986)
Whether or not viewers would tolerate the storyline’s increasingly heightened psychosexual games and sadomasochistic elements depended entirely on the chemistry of the film’s leads. Basinger and Rourke sold those famous ice cube, striptease, fridge, and waterlogged sex scenes for all they were worth.
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Maribel Verdú, Gael Garcia Bernal, & Diego Luna, Y Tu Mamá También (2001)
Two boys on the precipice of starting their adult lives convince an older woman to accompany them on a road trip to a secluded beach. Along the way, they’ll have to come to terms with past indiscretions and decide if their friendship is strong enough to survive emotional, sexual, and physical encounters — and betrayals. The chemistry between the three leads culminates in a steamy late-night tryst.
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Sanaa Lathan & Omar Epps, Love & Basketball (2000)
They may be dancing with other people, but their eyes say, “I only want to dance and play one-on-one with YOU.” Hey, double or nothing.
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Deborah Kerr & Burt Lancaster, From Here to Eternity (1953)
As a sergeant (Lancaster) and his commanding officer’s wife (Kerr), these two are responsible for one of the most iconic kissing scenes of all time.
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Jennifer Lawrence & Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Now giving Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling a run for their “How many movies can we couple up in?” title, J. Law and B. Coops played romantic partners again in Serena. They also appeared together in American Hustle and the upcoming Joy.
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Audrey Hepburn & Gregory Peck, Roman Holiday (1953)
Even their perfect matching eyebrows had chemistry. Just take our word for it.
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Ryan Gosling & Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine (2010)
We see a relationship at the best of times and the worst of times in this all-too-real depiction of modern love, compromise, and loss.
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