Hollywood Stars Defend Work With Intimacy Coordinators

Sean Bean in Snowpiercer Season 2. / Image via David Bukach/TNT

“Hey, Sean! Intimacy SHOULD be coordinated,” say Hollywood stars!

Sean Bean, who played Ned Stark on Game of Thrones, is in the hot seat after saying he prefers not to work with an intimacy coordinator. He says working with one will “spoil the spontaneity” of sex scenes.

“I think the natural way lovers behave would be ruined by someone bringing it right down to a technical exercise,” he told the Times of London Sunday Magazine. “It would inhibit me more because it’s drawing attention to things.”

But what is an intimacy coordinator? As Sydney Sweeney of Euphoria noted back in June, a production’s intimacy coordinator acts as an advocate for actors during the filming of a sex scene.

“The intimacy coordinator is just there to be that extra person who’ll come to you before you start filming a scene,” the Euphoria star shared. “They’ll walk you through everything that is going to happen and even if you’ve signed a contract saying, ‘Yes, I’m going to do this or show this,’ you can still change your mind. You can tell that person, ‘I don’t feel comfortable doing that,’ and they will be the ones who communicate that so you won’t feel as bad.”

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#sydneysweeney tells #christinaricci about working with an intimacy coordinator on #euphoria

♬ original sound – Variety

After Sean Bean’s comment went viral, several talents in Hollywood have come out in support of intimacy coordinators.

West Side Story star Rachel Zegler noted that while filming the movie, she, a then-17-year-old, had to shoot love scenes with a then-25-year-old Ansel Elgort.

“Intimacy coordinators establish an environment of safety for actors. i was extremely grateful for the one we had on WSS,” she tweeted. “They showed grace to a newcomer like myself + educated those around me who’ve had years of experience.”

She then added, “Spontaneity in intimate scenes can be unsafe. Wake up.”

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Jameela Jamil of Lengendary and She-Hulk also spoke up against Bean’s words.

“It should only be technical,” Jamil wrote on Twitter. “It’s like a stunt. Our job as actors is to make it not look technical. Nobody wants an impromptu grope…”

Even Sean Bean’s Snowpiercer co-star Lena Hall spoke on the issue. Though, she did so because Bean spoke for her in his interview. To defend his stance, Bean referenced one scene in Season 2 of the TNT show. In it, he and Hall filmed a sex scene between them and a mango.

Bean said, “I think they cut a bit out actually. 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 the advertisers say it’s so much. It’s a nice scene, quite surreal, dream-like and abstract. And mango-esque.”

When hearing that intimacy coordinators sprung up as a response to the #MeToo movement, Bean responded, “I suppose it depends on the actress. This one [Hall] had a musical cabaret background, so she was up for anything.”

This prompted a tweet from Hall saying, “Just because I am in theater (not cabaret, but I do perform them every once in a while) does not mean that I am up for anything.”

Hall later clarified that she felt at ease when filming the scene with Bean.

“If I feel comfortable with my scene partner and with others in the room then I won’t need an intimacy coordinator,” she wrote. “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.”

She then finished her thread of posts with, “I do feel that intimacy coordinators are a welcome addition to the set and think they could also help with the trauma experienced in other scenes. Sometimes you need em sometimes you don’t but every single person and scene and experience is different.”

Photo by Brands&People on Unsplash

Philippa Childs, head of British broadcast union Bectu, also joined the conversation earlier today by saying Bean’s words were “disappointing.” Childs noted that Bean ignored “his position of privilege and the vulnerabilities and challenges many in the industry, particularly young and less experienced actors, may face as they engage in shooting intimate scenes.”

“Intimacy coordination provides vital support for artists during the preparation, rehearsal and shooting of intimate action and its increasing use is a welcome move to further establish an environment of safety for actors on set,” she continued. “These comments display a disservice to intimacy co-ordinators and to the knowledge and contributions of the trained, skilled professionals our members who carry out this work are. We applaud their commitment to keeping everyone safe and respected on set.”

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