Venus in Fur takes place in an audition room as playwright/director Thomas Novachek reluctantly auditions one last candidate for the role of Wanda, the seductive neighbor of Severin von Kushemski in his adaptation of Leopold von Sacher Masoch’s Venus in Furs. But the audition quickly turns into a game of cat-and-mouse filled with sexual tension as the two characters explore the dynamics of an actress-director relationship through the lens of Severin and Wanda’s psychosexual affair.
Vanda and Thomas are far from the first artistic couple whose professional relationship turned into something more. In honor of their steamy relationship, let’s take a look at famous pairs that got their start in the rehearsal room:
Anton Chekhov and Olga Knipper
Actress Olga Knipper was among the 44 original members of the Moscow Art Theatre in 1898. She met playwright Anton Chekhov during rehearsals for the 1898 MXAT’s production of The Seagull in which she played Arkadina. Their love letters are filled with passionate longing for each other, and eventually Chekhov wrote a specific role for her, saying, “What a part I’ve got for you in Three Sisters.” She the first actress to play Masha in Three Sisters (1901) and Madame Ranevskaya in The Cherry Orchard (1904). The two were married from 1901 until Chekhov’s death in 1904.
David Mamet and Lindsay Crouse
When playwright David Mamet heard that actress Linda Crouse had a part in his play Reunion at the Yale Repertory Theater, Mamet packed a bag and told a friend, “I'm going to New Haven to marry Lindsay Crouse.” The two were married from 1977 to 1990.
Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann
Producer, director, and screenwriter Judd Apatow met actress Leslie Mann in 1995 when she auditioned for Ben Stiller’s The Cable Guy. Stiller needed a stand-in for Jim Carrey during the auditions, and the job fell to writer/producer Apatow. The reading in the audition was the couple’s first meeting. Mann has appeared in every one of his directorial efforts and in increasingly larger roles ever since. The two have been married since 1997.
Tim Burton and Helena Bonham-Carter
Known as the Mr. and Mrs. Mad Hatter or the odd couple of the movie world,” director, producer, and writer Tim Burton and actress Helena Bonham Carter met after Bonham Carter was cast in Burton’s remake of Planet of the Apes in 2001. The two have been together and she has appeared in several of his films since.
Jennifer Westfeldt and Jon Hamm
Our very own Power of Duff cast member, actress, writer, and producer Jennifer Westfeldt met her future partner, actor Jon Hamm, in after casting him in a small role (his first) in her hit indie film, Kissing Jessica Stein (2001). The two have been in a relationship since 1997, and he has appeared in her films Ira & Abby and Friends with Kids.
Sam Mendes and Kate Winslet
The pair met in 2001, when director Sam Mendes approached actress Kate Winslet about appearing at London’s Donmar Warehouse theatre where he was then artistic director. Due to scheduling conflicts, Winslet declined the job offer, but their relationship began shortly thereafter. When Mendes cast her opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in his film Revolutionary Road, he recalls that his primary concern was that DiCaprio not feel sidelined: “Leo was in the most difficult position because he was trying to be married to the director’s wife.” The two were married from 2003 until 2011.
Rupert Sanders and Kristen Stewart
Director Rupert Sanders and actress Kristin Stewart met while making the film Snow White and the Huntsman in 2012. Their affair caused quite a scandal because both Sanders and Stewart were involved with others at the time.
Sam Taylor-Wood and Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Despite a 23-year age difference, film director Sam Taylor-Wood met her now-husband actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson after meeting in 2009 on the set of her debut film Nowhere Boy.
Steven Spielberg and Amy Irving
Known for their $100 million settlement after a judge controversially nullified the prenuptial agreement that had been written on a napkin, the relationship between director, screenwriter, and producer Steven Spielberg and actress Amy Irving began in the audition room for Close Encounters of the Third Kind where Irving was coldly told by Spielberg that she was too young for the part. The two had a relationship from 1976-1979 and were married from 1985 to 1989.
Spielberg began a subsequent relationship with actress Kate Capshaw, whom he met when he cast her in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The two married in 1991.
Irving began a relationship in 1990 with Brazilian film director Bruno Barreto, and the two were married from 1996 to 2005.
Woody Allen and Louise Lasser and Diane Keaton and Mia Farrow
Filmmaker Woody Allen is well-known for dating the leading ladies of his films. From 1966 to 1969, he was married to actress Louise Lasser, who appeared in several of his films including three Allen films after their divorce.
In 1970, Allen casted Diane Keaton in his Broadway show, Play It Again, Sam, and during the run, she and Allen became romantically involved. Allen’s films helped to shape and establish Keaton early in her career. Her fourth Allen film, Annie Hall (1977), garnered her the Academy Award for Best Actress.
Around 1980, Allen began a relationship with actress Mia Farrow, who had leading roles in most of his movies from 1982 to 1992.