Rachel Zegler, the actor who rose to fame as the lead in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story, has spoken up in support of intimacy coordinators, after criticism of the role by Sean Bean earlier in the week.
Speaking to the TimesBean said such coordinators – largely brought in post #MeToo to help police on-set safety – can “spoil the spontaneity” of shooting a sex scene.
“It would inhibit me more because it’s drawing attention to things,” Bean said. “Somebody saying: ‘Do this, put your hands 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,” he added. Bean, who starred in Game of Thrones, compared recent experiences to his time shooting a 1993 TV adaptation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover opposite Joely Richardson.
“Lady Chatterley was spontaneous,” Bean said. “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.”
Writing on Twitter, Zegler took issue with Bean’s position, saying intimacy coordinators “establish an environment of safety for actors” and that “spontaneity in intimate scenes can be unsafe. Wake up.”
She expressed her gratitude to the coordinator who worked with her and Ansel Elgort on West Side Story, saying “they showed grace to a newcomer like myself + educated those around me who’ve had years of experience.”
Bean also criticized post-shoot editing of intimate scenes, saying that he was saddened to see sexual sequences involving himself, co-star Lena Hall and a mango had been cut from TV series Snowpiercer.
“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,” said Bean. “It’s a nice scene, quite surreal, dream-like and abstract. And mango-esque.”
Asked about the origins of intimacy coordinators, who are seeking to protect vulnerable actors, Bean said: “I suppose it depends on the actress. This one [meaning Hall] had a musical cabaret background, so she was up for anything.”
Hall, who has starred in Broadway productions of Kinky Boots, Cats and Hedwig and the Angry Inch responded by saying that Bean is “an awesome actor and made me feel not only comfortable but also like I had a true acting partner in those bizarre scenes. ”
She added: “If I feel comfortable with my scene partner and with others in the room then I won’t need an intimacy coordinator. 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 [intimacy coordinator].”
Other actors who took issue with Bean’s stance include The Good Place’s Jameela Jamil, who tweeted that sex scenes “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.”
Speaking to the Guardian earlier this year, the director Adrian Lyne also expressed ambivalence about intimacy coordinators.
“It implies a lack of trust. And that’s all I have. If the actors don’t trust me, I might as well go home. I’ve gotta make myself vulnerable for them; for them to know I would spill my guts, do anything for them. Then, with any luck, I get the same back.”
I have contrasted shooting his most recent film, Deep Water, starring Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas, who began a relationship on set, with making Fatal Attraction in the 1980s.
The stars of that film, Glenn Close and Michael Douglas, swigged champagne before their first sex scene, and margaritas before their second. “You can’t do that now!” said Lyne. “Why is everything so serious? God, it’s not like they’re gonna get paralyzed or something.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism