Over the last few years, Hollywood has started to make greater use of intimacy coordinators, who help manage the filming of sex scenes in film and TV. This job seemed more pertinent after the explosion of the MeToo movement, which called attention to how women in the industry were often preyed upon by men who abused their authority without any consequences.
Alicia Rodis, who worked as an intimacy coordinator on the HBO show “The Deuce,” which is about the American porn industry in the ’70s, explained her job like this: “I am here to give a voice to actors, especially actors who feel like they don’t have one. And I’m also here for the producers, to make sure that they know they’re doing their best to make sure the set is safe.” Although it looks real enough on camera, for actors, sex scenes are work, and Rodis helps it feel that way by “separating the sexuality between the characters and what’s actually happening between the actors.”
Intimacy coordinators are becoming something of an industry standard, but not everyone is on board. Just ask “Lord of the Rings” and “Game of Thrones” veteran Sean Bean, who remembered how they used to do it on the set of “Lady Chatterley” in 1993. “It would inhibit me more because it’s drawing attention to things,” Bean told The Times. “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…’Lady Chatterly’ 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.
Bean is definitely giving off some some “back in my day” energy here. I think we can chalk up his take to having come up during a different time in Hollywood, back when abuse was still happening but way less discussed. Happily, intimacy coordinators don’t seem to be going anywhere.
Actresses respond to Bean’s comments about intimacy coordinators
In response to Bean’s comments, other actors sounded off about their benefits, including “West Side Story” star Rachel Zegler. “[I]ntimacy coordinators establish an environment of safety for actors,” she wrote. “I was extremely grateful for the one we had on “WSS”— they showed grace to a newcomer like myself + educated those around me who’ve had years of experience. Spontaneity in intimate scenes can be unsafe. Wake up.”
“The Good Place” and “She-Hulk” actor Jameela Jamil also weighed in. “It should only be technical,” she wrote. “It’s like a stunt. Our job as actors is to make it not look technical. Nobody wants an impromptu grope . . .”
Lena Hall, who shared a sex scene with Bean on the show “Snowpiercer,” also gave her take. She said she was comfortable with Bean during their scene, but wanted to clarify some things. “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…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.”
Sean Bean doesn’t like how fans are treated at conventions
Actually, Bean was dropping hot takes all over the interview. He also had something to say about fan conventions, which he attended after he played Boromir in “The Fellowship of the Ring.” He remembered it being “just a cattle market” and didn’t like how the guests were corralled.
“I didn’t like how the organizers treated the fans,” Bean said, talking about how the staff would cut him off if he tried to write a message to a fan when signing something. “They’d say, ‘No, no, just a signature. He needs to pay more for you writing a message.’ And these fans are good-natured, positive people who were getting tossed around and overcharged for things.”
You probably won’t be seeing Bean at any fan conventions in the future.