Genuine Relationships That Flourish On-Screen
The entertainment industry has seen plenty of stars rise and fall, with thousands of movies and TV shows falling in and out of fame. However, there are some pairs of actors that are simply unforgettable, raising their work to iconic status. Not all famous duos are romantic partnerships either – plenty of good entertainment includes best friends that radiate genuine chemistry.
Below are seven of the best acting duos to ever grace the silver screen. From comedic partners to action buddies and even rom-com couples, these pairs have an undefinable bond that raises the level of their work to masterpieces.
7. Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale
First paired together in the 1950s show Perry Mason, Burr and Hale played Perry Mason and Della Street. The two characters were always meant to be a romantic couple, but Erle Stanley Gardner – the author of the original books – was chronically unable to write love. That being said, their characters on screen crackle with romantic tension and quietly sweet moments. Being best friends in real life certainly helped cement their characters’ dynamic, and their reunion in the 1980s Perry Mason television movies makes it seem as though they had never stepped off the original set. They reconnect like puzzle pieces, easily slotting back into their former roles.
Burr, though an intensely private man, became quite close to Hale during their time together on the show. With how rigorous their schedule was, such a relationship forming was not unheard of. His wicked sense of humor often led to elaborate pranks, especially on Hale – pranks that included putting a baby alligator in her desk drawer and filling her dressing room floor-to-ceiling with flowers. While she always attempted to retaliate, she had a terrible poker face and nearly always gave away her intentions.
6. Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr.
Playing possibly the most famous duo of all time, Law and Downey Jr. star as Watson and Holmes in the Guy Ritchie films. Ritchie reportedly wanted two actors that had an authentic bond that he could translate onto the screen – within five minutes of Law and Downey Jr. meeting, he knew he had his pair. Their genuine bond as friends and their admiration for each other brought a spark to their characters that transcend any sort of scriptwriting or directing. Many interviewers have commented on their borderline flirtatious chemistry, and even Law himself has jokingly professed his love for Downey Jr.
Though they have only acted together in those two Sherlock Holmes films, a third entry in the series has been rumored for years. The two actors, busy with the fame they have acquired from their work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as Law’s appearances in the Fantastic Beasts series, have kept them from completing the project. Nevertheless, fans are eagerly awaiting their reunion, hoping to catch more of their unique bond.
5. Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks
Hanks and Ryan serve as one of the many big-name rom-com couples of the 90s, starring in films such as Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail. Though their first movie together was a commercial flop, these two later films served to cement their success and demonstrate their on-screen chemistry.
While their real-life friendship isn’t much mentioned or highlighted, their common goal of having fun and enjoying themselves while working helped unite them on set. Their dynamic during their films together, particularly their enemies-to-lovers arc in You’ve Got Mail, proves tantalizing and engaging to audiences. Part of what makes the story so great is the tension created between them and the agonizing will-they-won’t-they that is helped in no small part by their chemistry.
4. Michael Sheen and David Tennant
Though their friendship is somewhat recent, the two actors display their chemistry in Prime Video show Good Omens. Playing characters on opposite sides of Armageddon, Sheen and Tennant beautifully portray the love, banter, and tension between angel Aziraphale (Sheen) and demon Crowley (Tennant). The complicated relationship that six thousand years fosters comes to life through how the pair interact with one another.
Staged, their most recent show, showcases how well the two play off each other. A mostly-improvised show taking place during the pandemic and over Zoom calls, Sheen and Tennant create effortless humor out of needing to rehearse for a play but being stuck at home. Though the characters they play are exaggerated versions of themselves, it’s still quite clear the affection they have for each other in real life. The third season, released in November 2022, seems to be its final chapter, though the duo are still working on projects together. The second season of Good Omens will see them back in their roles as angel and demon on July 28th of this year.
3. Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles
With Whose Line is it Anyway rumored to be in the midst of its final season, it’s only fair to highlight the chemistry between Mochrie and Stiles. The pair have worked together for about 40 years, having met and toured with each other in the 80s before the producers of the original British version of Whose Line discovered Stiles. Mochrie soon joined the show after a few failed attempts. From then on, the two comedians migrated with the show as it changed hands.
Mochrie’s unhinged, unfiltered jokes and Stiles’ witty recovery make them a formidable comic duo. Their improv chemistry is undeniable – Mochrie, more than any of the other actors, is able to make Stiles laugh, famously without breaking character himself. Often, their minds work in the same way, fusing to make the best and most well-timed jokes. As is often the case with best friends, the two spar with jokes about the other’s appearance. Stiles often makes bald jokes, while Mochrie retaliates with quips about Stiles’ nose, ears, or shoes. Even injuries on set, such as Stiles’ famous breaking of the light on the host’s desk, are fodder for jokes, with Mochrie remarking that “it would have been better if your head burst into flames” once the scene was finished.
2. Audrey Hepburn and Spencer Tracy
Perhaps one of the most iconic duos, Hepburn and Tracy acted in a total of nine films together. Their partnership spanned the forties to the sixties and included titles such as Adam’s Rib, Desk Set, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Often playing a married couple, their chemistry was not merely fostered on set. Though Tracy was married during their friendship, he and his wife were not on good terms and were often separated. Reportedly, his romantic affair with Hepburn was an open Hollywood secret. Though they lived separately from each other, they spent much time together. When Tracy fell ill towards the end of his life, Hepburn lightened her acting load in order to be with him.
Plenty of rumors surround the couple’s unionship, with some claiming that the affair was to disguise their true sexual orientations and others affirming that they were romantically involved. Both remained secretive, with Hepburn disliking the press and Tracy wanting to shield his wife and children. Whatever the true nature of their relationship was, the chemistry they created on screen is arguably unparalleled. Their body language and witty, fast-paced banter drew audiences to theaters then and continue to entice viewers now.
1. Tim Conway and Harvey Korman
Another comedic classic, Conway and Korman’s most notable appearances occur on The Carol Burnett Show, where both became regulars. Conway, never afraid to go the distance for a few laughs, almost always got Korman to break character. Though the skits were rehearsed and taped a few times, actors often found avenues of improvisation, making the other actors’ reactions completely genuine. Perhaps the most famous example, the dentist sketch, features Conway as a recently-graduated dentist about to extract the tooth of his very first patient, Korman. In a burst of comedic genius, Conway, in possession of a syringe full of novocaine, proceeds to accidentally stab himself in the hand, leg, and forehead with it.
They often found themselves competing for Emmys, and their unique acceptance speeches left audiences in stitches. As close friends, the two were always horsing around, finding ways to make each other laugh and take life a bit less seriously. With a common goal of having fun, it’s no wonder the two clicked so well.
(The Dentist) The Carol Burnett Show CBS 1969
|Cailen Fienemann is a current student at Le Moyne College pursuing her BA in English and Communications with a film studies minor and a creative writing concentration. Though uncertain about her career end-goals, any job that allows her to write is a cherished one indeed.|