"Game of Thrones" Star Says Intimacy Coordinators "Ruin" Sex Scenes
Sean Bean came out against the now-common practice in a recent interview.
A movie or TV love scene may be between actors on a set, but it has to look convincing and real. Still, ask any actor who's done such a scene, and they'll likely describe the experience as awkward, given that they're pretending to engage in an intimate act while surrounded by cameras and crew members. Worse, these scenes don't always feel safe or comfortable for the actors involved, which is why the use of intimacy coordinators has become more common in recent years. Many actors have spoken out positively about intimacy coordinators being on set to help guide and protect them, but not everyone is happy about their prevalence.
In a new interview with The Times, Game of Thrones star Sean Bean said that he thinks intimacy coordinators can ruin sex scenes and "spoil the spontaneity." Read on to see what else the actor had to say.
READ THIS NEXT: This Star Said She Didn't Feel "Protected" Filming Intimate Scenes.
Intimacy coordinators are more common than ever.
According to the SAG-AFTRA union, "An intimacy coordinator is an advocate, a liaison between actors and production, and a movement coach and/or choreographer in regards to nudity and simulated sex and other intimate and hyper-exposed scenes." They also ensure that everyone on set follows safety protocols. The use of intimacy coordinators became more popular following the Me Too movement, after many performers spoke out about feeling pressured or intimidated while filming these scenes—or surprised that they were asked to do or remove more clothing than they originally anticipated.
Bean says that intimacy coordinators "inhibit" him.
In his interview with The Times (via The Independent), Bean, 63, said of intimacy coordinators, "I should imagine it slows down the thrust of it. Ha, not the thrust, that's the wrong word. It would spoil the spontaneity."
The Lord of the Rings actor continued, "It would inhibit me more because it's drawing attention to things. Somebody saying, 'Do this, put your hand 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."
Intimacy coordinators were used on later episodes of Game of Thrones.
HBO brought intimacy coordinators onto its shows in 2018, but Bean was long off of Game of Thrones by then. (His role was finished in 2011, and the show itself concluded in 2019.) Some stars of the series had commented on how sensitive scenes were filmed prior to intimacy coordinators being hired, highlighting a sense of confusion.
Actor Gemma Whelan, who played Yara Greyjoy, told The Guardian in 2021, "They used to just say, 'When we shout action, go for it!', and it could be a sort of frenzied mess. But between the actors there was always an instinct to check in with each other."
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Bean called filming one un-choreographed love scene "a joy."
In the same Times interview, Bean pointed to the 1993 miniseries adaptation of Lady Chatterley's Lover that he starred in as an example of a love scene that he doesn't believe would have benefitted from an intimacy coordinator.
"Lady Chatterley was spontaneous," the 63-year-old actor said. "It was joy. [Co-star Joely Richardson] and I 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 D.H. Lawrence wrote."
He thinks the need for a coordinator "depends on the actress."
Bean also brought up an intimate scene he shot with co-star Lena Hall for his current series, Snowpiercer. It involves creative usage of a mango, and the actor said that a lot of what they film didn't make it to air.
"I think they cut a bit out actually," he said (via Variety). 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."
The Times interviewer noted that a benefit of intimacy coordinators is that they can help perfomers feel protected on set. Bean responded, "I suppose it depends on the actress. This one [referring to Hall] had a musical cabaret background, so she was up for anything."
In a separate interview, Hall said that she and Bean were on the same page during the shoot, which made it easier for her. "Thank god I was comfortable and thank god there was that invitation there and thank god there was like an understanding there between the two of us," she told Metro UK, "because it would have been tough to do if it was someone else that wasn't so open to the experience, that wasn't so open to just like go for it, you know."