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Emma Thompson supports the use of intimacy coordinators on TV and movie sets, calling them “fantastically important” in a recent interview.
Speaking on the Fitzy & Wippa radio show, the Good Luck to You, Leo Grande star was asked about Snowpiercer and Game of Thrones actor Sean Bean’s recent comments on the use of intimacy coordinators on sets, in which the actor said they can “spoil the spontaneity” of scripted sex scenes.
In response, Thompson — who seemingly had not heard Bean’s comments — said that in her opinion, “intimacy coordinators are fantastically important.”
She explained, “I don’t know [if] you were speaking to somebody who found it distracting, but another conversation you might find [is] that people go, ‘It made me comfortable. It made me feel safe. It made me feel as though I was able to do this work.'”
Thompson — who had intimacy coordinators while she was working on Leo Grande, a Searchlight film that dropped on Hulu about a middle-aged woman who hires a male escort to help her explore her sexuality and achieve orgasm for the first time in her life — went on to say that simulating sex onscreen is “not a comfortable situation, full stop,” and does require structure for the actors.
“No, you can’t just let it flow. The crew is — [you’re] not on your own in a hotel room. You’re being hounded by a bunch of blokes … carrying things,” she said. “So I don’t know who the actor was, but maybe he had an intimacy coordinator accidentally at home.”
Thompson’s comments echo those from several other women, including Bean’s Snowpiercer co-star Lena Hall, who spoke up after the actor declared in an interview with the Sunday Times Magazine that the need for an intimacy coordinator “depends on the actress.” He said that following the #MeToo movement and a rise in their use in Hollywood as a result, these roles not only “spoil the spontaneity” of onset intimacy scenes, but “inhibit me more because it’s drawing attention to things.
“I think the natural way lovers behave would be ruined by someone bringing it right down to a technical exercise,” Bean added.
Hall, who was described by her male co-star as “up for anything” due to her previous cabaret performance experience (a characterization she rejected), said she didn’t believe an intimacy coordinator would be necessary if she feels “comfortable with my scene partner and with others in the room,” but would call on one if she felt weird, gross or overexposed.
“I will either challenge the necessity of the scene or I’ll want an IC,” she concluded. “I feel that when an actor has to do a scene that is extremely emotional (like committing suicide or being raped) there needs be some kind of mental health person available to talk to post-shoot. Even though we are only acting, we are still experiencing trauma.”
West Side Story star Rachel Zegler tweeted that “intimacy coordinators establish an environment of safety for actors” and that “spontaneity in intimate scenes can be unsafe,” while She-Hulk actress Jameela Jamil noted on Twitter that “our job as actors is to make it not look technical,” but that “nobody wants an impromptu grope.”
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