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Intimacy coordinators are an absolute essential in keeping sex scenes safe


By Sarah Gill
02nd Sep 2022

Unsplash

Intimacy coordinators are an absolute essential in keeping sex scenes safe

Having gone on the record to share his feelings that intimacy coordinators “spoil the spontaneity”, Sean Bean has inadvertently started a conversation on the importance of making actors feel safe during sex scenes.

Best known from his roles in Game of Thrones and Snowpiercer, Sean Bean is no stranger to working with stunt coordinators to ensure that action scenes go off without a hitch and look both believable and realistic to the viewer. Sadly, it seems as though he doesn’t view sex scenes as requiring the same level of planning.

“It would inhibit me more because it’s drawing attention to things,” Bean told The Sunday Times in a recent interview. “Somebody saying, ‘Do this, put your hands there, while you touch his thing…”

“I think the natural way lovers behave would be ruined by someone bringing it right down to a technical exercise,” he added, “Lady Chatterley’s Lover was spontaneous. It was a joy. We had a good chemistry between us, and we knew what we were doing was unusual. Because she was married, I was married. But we were following the story. We were trying to portray the truth of what DH Lawrence wrote.”

“Often the best work you do, where you’re trying to push the boundaries, and the very nature of it is experimental, gets censored when TV companies or advertisers say it’s too much,” he said, before the interviewer made a point of saying that intimacy coordinators provide essential protection for actors in the wake of the Me Too movement.

To this, Bean says: “I suppose it depends on the actress. Certain aspects of a man’s character are frowned upon now as being discriminatory or boorish. But I think you’ve got to be careful we do not lose sight of what a man is. A lot of men these days are made to feel like apologists for their sexuality and their masculinity. And I think that’s something that men have to retain and celebrate as much as women celebrate their femininity.”

Naturally, these comments have caused quite the stir — and rightly so.

Lena Hall, with whom Bean shared an intimate scene with in Snowpiercer took to Twitter to clarify a thing or two. In the interview, Bean had said that Hall “had a musical cabaret background, so she was up for anything.”

“Just because I am in theatre (not cabaret, but I do perform them every once in a while) does not mean that I am up for anything,” she wrote. “Sean is an awesome actor and made me feel not only comfortable but also like I had a true acting partner in those bizarre scenes … If I feel comfortable with my scene partner and with others in the room then I won’t need an intimacy coordinator. BUT if there is any part of me that is feeling weird, gross, over exposed etc… I will either challenge the necessity of the scene or I’ll want an IC.”

Emma Thompson has also chimed in on the conversation, saying in a radio interview that “Intimacy coordinators are fantastically important, [they’re] the most fantastic introduction in our work. And no, you can’t just ‘let it flow.’ There’s a camera there and a crew. You’re not just in your hotel room, you’re surrounded by a bunch of blokes, mostly. So it’s not a comfortable situation, full stop.”

Rachel Zegler of West Side Story took to Twitter to express her gratitude for the rising importance of intimacy coordinators. “They showed grace to a newcomer like myself + educated those around me who’ve had years of experience,” she wrote. “Spontaneity in intimate scenes can be unsafe. Wake up.”

In a recent interview with Porter Amanda Seyfried spoke about the strides of progress she’s seen within the movie industry since she started out all those years ago. As a young up-and-comer, Seyfried didn’t have the luxury of an intimacy coordinator, and without the safety of knowing you’ve got someone in your corner, she didn’t feel as though she was in a position to speak up.

“Being 19, walking around without my underwear on – like, are you kidding me? How did I let that happen?” She says. “Oh, I know why: I was 19 and I didn’t want to upset anybody, and I wanted to keep my job. That’s why.”

Transforming an onscreen sex scene into a choreographed dance is no mean feat, and while it allows for a greater sense of safety behind the scenes, it also makes for much better television. From Normal People to Bridgerton, the pandemic saw an increase in professionally engineered sex scenes, and the role of an intimacy coordinator is becoming an essential on many sets, whether Sean Bean likes it or not.