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Actors Speak Up Following Sean Bean’s Cringeworthy Intimacy Coordinator Comments

Sean Bean as Ned Stark in HBO's Game of Thrones.

Sean Bean, noted actor who dies in films, made some cringeworthy statements about the relatively new increase in the presence of intimacy coordinators on sets. In response, some actors have spoken up and discussed their positive experiences.

The comments, made in the Times of London Sunday Magazine, had Eddard “Ned” Stark opining that he is not a fan of intimacy coordinators because of fears they would “spoil the spontaneity” of intimate scenes.

“I think the natural way lovers behave would be ruined by someone bringing it right down to a technical exercise,” he told the magazine. He brought up his 1993 film Lady Chatterly and the “spontaneous” things they did: “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.”

He also mentioned his Snowpiercer co-star Lena Hall, with whom he had a number of intimate scenes, calling up her musical cabaret background to explain that she “was up for anything.”

Hall responded in a multiple-part Twitter thread, 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. Seriously does depend on the other actor, the scene we are about to do, the director, and whatever crew has to be in there to film it.” Hall did say that Bean made her feel comfortable, but added, “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.”

Other actors who responded were Rachel Zegler (West Side Story):

“Iintimacy coordinators establish an environment of safety for actors. 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.”

Also, Midnight Mass’s Rahul Kohli, certified hottie, also joined the discussion online, posting about his experience with intimacy coordinators: “I’ve worked with a few intimacy coordinators now, and while ever so slightly embarrassing at first, are essential for protecting our safety, making us comfortable, and opening up constructive dialogue between the actors and director when scenes call for ‘intimacy.’”

This is acting, and you are already creating the illusion of intimacy while surrounded by a crew of people, before the audience even gets there. We have had a long history of people behaving badly in order to create “spontaneous” intimacy, and that has not led to success. Marlon Brando, in Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris, came up with the idea, with Betolucci’s approval, to rape actress Maria Schneider’s character, Jeanne, using a stick of butter as lubricant. It was not in the script and was done in a way that Schneider has recalled as traumatic:

The director acknowledged that he’d sprung the butter detail on Schneider at the last minute, because he wanted her onscreen humiliation and rage to be real. “I wanted Maria to feel, not to act,” he said.

Brando didn’t actually penetrate Schneider in the scene. But it was an incident of real sexual humiliation nonetheless, by all accounts.

(via Vox)

“I should have called my agent or had my lawyer come to the set because you can’t force someone to do something that isn’t in the script, but at the time, I didn’t know that,” she told the Daily Mail in 2007.

We need people on set that are there looking out for the actors’ safety and comfort, not just trying to help get a “realistic” or “spontanous” perfomance. In the loose words of Laurence Olivier, you can just act.

(via Deadline, featured image: HBO)

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Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.