If anybody was unaware of the term “intimacy coordinator” before this week, they certainly can’t avoid it now. Since actor Sean Bean claimed the professionals “spoil the spontaneity” of intimate scenes in an August 5 interview, people across the film and television industry have been sharing their own two cents. On Twitter, actors including Rachel Zegler, Jameela Jamil, Rahul Kohli, and Bean’s “Snowpiercer” co-star Lena Hall all shared responses in defense of the work that intimacy coordinators do.
Now among the latest to join the conversation is Emma Thompson, who, as Variety reports, was asked for her thoughts whilst promoting her latest film, “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande,” on Australian radio show “Fitzy & Wippa.” While an intimacy coordinator did not work on the film — which sees Thompson’s character, Nancy, hire and develop a connection with sex worker Leo (Daryl McCormack) — Thompson was not short of praise for what they do.
“Intimacy coordinators are the most fantastic introduction in our work,” she responded to the presenter’s questions. “And no, you can’t just ‘let it flow.’ There’s a camera there and a crew. You’re not on your own in a hotel room, you’re surrounded by a bunch of blokes, mostly. So it’s not a comfortable situation full stop.”
It’s not the first time she’s spoken in defense of their work. Earlier this year in an interview with the U.K.’s ITV News, she had commented, “I’m very glad there are intimacy coordinators now because the levels of abuse and sort of just really tacky, puerile, peeping Tom-style bollocks that was going on on every set where any young woman took their clothes off was just horrible, horrible, horrible — and I know a lot of young women who went through that.”
Actress Amanda Seyfried referred to such situations in a new interview with Porter, its publication timely, not least because in it she expressed a half-wish that she was starting out in the industry now, at a time when intimacy coordinators are more commonplace. Recalling the early years of her career, the now 36-year-old described some of her uncomfortable on-set experiences: “Being 19, walking around without my underwear on – like, are you kidding me? How did I let that happen? 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.”
Elsewhere, during a panel for the Television Critics Association summer press tour, actors Sam Reid and Jacob Anderson were asked about the sex scenes they filmed on upcoming AMC series “Interview With the Vampire.” As Variety reports, an intimacy coordinator worked on the series.
Explained Reid, “I think it’s really important working with an intimacy coordinator. I haven’t not worked with an intimacy coordinator for a number of years. I think it treats those scenes more like a stunt scene or a fight scene, so they’re choreographed as well as trying to keep some spontaneity in it. It was kind of fun doing it in that way. We got to rehearse it and know exactly what was going to happen.”
While the recent conversation has been largely dominated by actors so far, also present at the TCA panel was series director and executive producer Alan Taylor, who also spoke positively of having intimacy coordinators on set. “It gives everybody the right to ask any questions they want any time, which can sometimes be difficult in a hierarchical crew,” said Taylor. “With a coordinator there, it’s like everything is on the table.”
In recent years, the likes of Directors UK and SAG-AFTRA have published guidelines for the use of intimacy coordinators on film and TV productions, with the latter also introducing the first industrywide accreditation for the profession. Regardless of what some like Bean — or Frank Langella, who was fired from Netflix’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” after taking issue with directions he was given by an intimacy coordinator — may think, it’s clear that intimacy coordinators are here to stay.