Gemma Whelan: Game of Thrones Sex Scenes Could Be 'Frenzied Mess' but Cast Checked on Each Other

Gemma Whelan
Gemma Whelan

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Gemma Whelan is opening up about her time on Game of Thrones.

In a recent interview with The Guardian, the actress, who played Yara Greyjoy, reflected on filming sex scenes for the HBO drama without an intimacy director on-set.

"They used to just say, 'When we shout action, go for it!', and it could be a sort of frenzied mess," she told the outlet. "But between the actors there was always an instinct to check in with each other."

According to Whelan, 40, cast members would talk through any steamy scenes they shared together in advance.

"There was a scene in a brothel with a woman and she was so exposed that we talked together about where the camera would be and what she was happy with," Whelan said. "A director might say, 'Bit of boob biting, then slap her bum and go!' but I'd always talk it through with the other actor."

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gemma whelan
gemma whelan

Helen Sloan/HBO

Reps for HBO and Whelan did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's requests for comment.

During her first season on GoT in 2012, Whelan appeared in an infamous sex scene with Alfie Allen, who played Theon Greyjoy, an encounter later revealed to be incestuous. Before shooting the scene, she said she and Allen took their time mapping out how it would go.

"Alfie was very much [like], 'Is this OK? How are we going to make this work?'" she told The Guardian. "With intimacy directors, it's choreography — you move there, I move there, and permission and consent is given before you start."

"It is a step in the right direction," she said of intimacy coordinators becoming increasingly common on sets across the industry, like on her new mini-series The Tower.

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Whelan plays Detective Sergeant Sarah Collins in the upcoming ITV police drama, and while The Guardian reports that the character's "workaholism prevents her [from] having sex," an intimacy coordinator is working with the cast.

Regarding film set safety in the wake of the #MeToo movement, Whelan said things have shifted for the better.

"There's a very different choice of language now. If anyone makes an innuendo, everyone shuts down. I think, five or 10 years ago, if there was a double entendre, everyone would jump on the bandwagon and see how many laughs they could raise," she told the outlet. "I remember when an actor would have a microphone fitted, and sometimes you have to root around the waist. And, in the past, there'd be all this, 'and while you're down there, hur, hur!' But now you don't have to play along with things like that."