UPDATED with comments from Bectu: Sean Bean, who played Ned Stark on Game of Thrones, recently told the Times of London Sunday Magazine that he is not a fan of intimacy coordinators because he 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 said. “It would inhibit me more because it’s drawing attention to things.”
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Shortly after Bean’s words began to circulate online Monday, several prominent figures, including his Snowpiercer co-star Lena Hall and the head of British broadcast union Bectu, offered a very different perspective.
West Side Story breakout Rachel Zegler — who has noted in the past that she was 17 when she shot love scenes with her then-25-year-old co-star Ansel Elgort for that film — tweeted: “intimacy 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.”
Responding directly to Bean’s assertion she wrote, “spontaneity in intimate scenes can be unsafe. wake up.”
intimacy 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. https://t.co/bpxT2DVU1R
— rachel zegler (she/her/hers) (@rachelzegler) August 8, 2022
Jameela Jamil, who plays the villain in Marvel’s upcoming She-Hulk, replied directly to Bean’s “technical exercise” assertion writing, “It should only be technical. It’s like a stunt. Our job as actors is to make it not look technical. Nobody wants an impromptu grope…”
As an example of his contentions, Bean referenced an unusual scene from Season 2 of TNT’s Snowpiercer in which the characters he and co-star Lena Hall play are intimate with the aid of a mango.
Bean said, “I think they cut a bit out actually. 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.”
After the interviewer observed that intimacy coordinators were a response to the revelations of #MeToo meant to help actresses feel safe on set Bean responded, “I suppose it depends on the actress. This one [Hall] had a musical cabaret background, so she was up for anything.”
That prompted a long Twitter reply from Hall herself this afternoon.
The actress corrected two points in that last assertion from Bean writing, “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.”
She also made clear that she felt entirely at ease with Bean in the mango scene, but that does not mean she feels intimacy coordinators are superfluous.
“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.”
She ended her thoughts with, “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.”
I probably need to clarify some information in this random article since people are reaching out to me like "girl, are you ok?" https://t.co/mBH16KKP8A
— Lena Hall (@LenaRockerHall) August 8, 2022
Philippa Childs, head of British broadcast union Bectu, said on Tuesday that Bean’s words were “disappointing,” especially since they did not acknowledge “his position of privilege and the vulnerabilities and challenges many in the industry, particularly young and less experienced actors, may face as they engage in shooting intimate scenes.”
She went on:
“Intimacy coordination provides vital support for artists during the preparation, rehearsal and shooting of intimate action and its increasing use is a welcome move to further establish an environment of safety for actors on set.
“These comments display a disservice to intimacy co-ordinators and to the knowledge and contributions of the trained, skilled professionals our members who carry out this work are. We applaud their commitment to keeping everyone safe and respected on set.”
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