Snowpiercer star Lena Hall and other Hollywood onscreen talent are responding to recent comments made by Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings actor Sean Bean over the role of intimacy coordinators after the actor said they can “spoil the spontaneity” of intimate scenes on a live set.
In a recent interview with the Times of London Sunday Magazine promoting his new series, the BBC drama Marriage — which zeroes in on four emotional weeks in the 27-year marriage of a couple — Bean was asked about famous sex scenes featured in the 1993 BBC series Lady Chatterley and how those on that project would “have coped” with the intimacy consultants that have now become an increasing presence on sets.
He begins stating that he “should imagine it slows down the thrust of it,” before doubling back with a laugh to correct himself. “Ha, not the thrust, that’s the wrong word. It would spoil the spontaneity.”
He continues, “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.”
Bean calls the work on Lady Chatterley “spontaneous” and a personal “joy” among two married people who “knew what we were doing was unusual,” but who had good chemistry and were ultimately “trying to portray the truth of what DH Lawrence wrote.”
The actor went on to mention a separate and more recent experience on the set of Snowpiercer — an intimate scene he describes as “quite surreal, dream-like and abstract” and “mango-esque” involving the actor, Hall and the use of the fruit. It was a season two sequence he says the show “cut a bit out” of, noting, “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.”
When it’s broached that intimacy coordinators have become a protective measure following Hollywood’s response to its own #MeToo movement, Bean responds that when it came to Snowpiercer, he supposes “it depends on the actress. This one had a musical cabaret background, so she was up for anything.”
On Monday, Hall took to Twitter to respond directly to the story featuring these comments, writing that, “I probably need to clarify some information in this random article since people are reaching out to me like ‘girl, are you okay?’”
After going into detail about the nature of the scene, including a note that “the infamous mango scene wasn’t a naked scene” and involved her being faux naked in a bathtub with Bean while he was “fully clothed in a tuxedo,” she disputes that notion presented by Bean about how her creative work history would result in her being more open to certain things on set.
“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 tweeted. “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.”
She went on to say that Bean “is an awesome actor” who not only made her feel comfortable “but also like I had a true acting partner in those bizarre scenes.” For Hall personally, she says intimacy coordinators aren’t necessary if she feels “comfortable with my scene partner and with others in the room.” She will call on them, however, “if there is any part of me that is feeling weird, gross, overexposed etc.”
“I will either challenge the necessity of the scene or I’ll want an IC,” she concluded. “I feel that when an actor has to do a scene that is extremely emotional (like committing suicide or being raped) there needs be some kind of mental health person available to talk to post-shoot. Even though we are only acting, we are still experiencing trauma.”
In her own response on Twitter, West Side Story Rachel Ziegler said that “intimacy coordinators establish an environment of safety for actors” and that “spontaneity in intimate scenes can be unsafe.” The actress also added that she was “extremely grateful” for having one of the Steven Spielberg musical, which saw her performing intimate scenes at 17 years old opposite the then 25-year-old Ansel Elgort. “[T]hey showed grace to a newcomer like myself + educated those around me who’ve had years of experience.”
In her own tweet, She-Hulk and The Good Place actress Jameela Jamil stated that intimacy scenes “should only be technical.”
“It’s like a stunt. Our job as actors is to make it not look technical,” she explained. “Nobody wants an impromptu grope…”