The facilitator's role is to be "an advocate, a liaison between actors and production and a movement coach and/or choreographer in regards to nudity and simulated sex and other intimate and hyper-exposed scenes," the Screen Actors Guild said when releasing the new recommended standards in January 2020.
Since then, actors have debated whether the revolutionary role makes sexual intimacy on set better and safer for the actors involved or if they stifle artistic expression.
Last week, "Game of Thrones" actor Bean, 63, decried the role, spurring more actors to speak up on the issue. Here's what the facilitators do and what celebrities are saying about them:
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What is an intimacy coordinator?
The guild says intimacy coordinators should be hired for scenes involving nudity or simulated sex or upon request for other intimate scenes. Among recommendations from SAG-AFTRA, intimacy coordinators:
Meet with the executive producer/writer and director to determine degree of nudity and specifics of simulated sex.
Meet one-on-one with performers before rehearsal and filming of an intimate scene.
Ensure continued consent throughout rehearsals and filming.
Review nudity riders, scene content, modesty garments and barriers with performers, directors and assistant directors.
Verify that a final cut is consistent with contractual obligations
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What did Sean Bean say about intimacy coordinators?
Bean told British outlet The Times on Aug. 5 that had intimacy coordinators been used during his past roles, they would "spoil the spontaneity."
"I think the natural way lovers behave would be ruined by someone bringing it right down to a technical exercise," he said.
The Times reporter suggested intimacy coordinators provide safety for actresses, to which he responded: "I suppose it depends on the actress. (Lena Hall) had a musical cabaret background, so she was up for anything." The two filmed a suggestive scene for the show "Snowpiercer."
How did Lena Hall respond to Bean's comments about her?
In a lengthy Twitter thread shared Monday, Hall, 42, addressed Bean's remarks that she was "up for anything."
Hall first clarified that she was not actually naked, also she appeared that way in a bathtub scene with Bean, who was "fully clothed in a tuxedo."
"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 added. "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."
The actress also noted that Bean "made me feel not only comfortable but also like I had a true acting partner in those bizarre scenes."
"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," Hall explained.
4. 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.
— Lena Hall (@LenaRockerHall) August 8, 2022
She concluded: "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."
How have other actors and actresses reacted?
Seyfried, 36, expressed in a Net-a-Porter interview, shared Monday, that she wished in her earlier years intimacy coordinators were required, noting that she was doing nude scenes as early as 19.
"Being 19, walking around without my underwear on – like, are you kidding me? How did I let that happen?" she expressed in mock shock. "Oh, I know why: I was 19 and I didn’t want to upset anybody, and I wanted to keep my job. That’s why."
Zegler, 21, responded to Bean's comment, tweeting Monday: "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," the "West Side Story" actress added. "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
Emma Thompson, who stars in sex-forward "Good Luck to You, Leo Grande," said on Australian podcast “Fitzy & Wippa” Wednesday that "intimacy coordinators are the most fantastic introduction in our work."
"And no, you can’t just ‘let it flow,’" she added, in reference to Bean. "There’s a camera there and a crew. You’re not on your own in a hotel room, you’re surrounded by a bunch of blokes, mostly. So it’s not a comfortable situation full stop."
"Guardians of the Galaxy" director James Gunn weighed in Wednesday, tweeting, "Of all the newer positions in the film industry, the one I’m the most grateful for are intimacy coordinators. If they’re doing their job right - and all the ones I’ve worked with have - they simply make sure everyone is on the same page - the director & all actors involved."
Gunn compared intimacy coordinators to stunt coordinators, adding that they "allow actors to feel MORE free, not less, because everyone comes to set aware of what the boundaries are & aren’t & are aware of exactly what the filmmaker is looking for."
In my experience, they allow actors to feel MORE free, not less, because everyone comes to set aware of what the boundaries are & aren’t & are aware of exactly what the filmmaker is looking for. They’re no different from stunt coordinators.
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) August 10, 2022
Kumail Nanjiani responded to Gunn in agreement.
"I can't believe we did without them for so long," the "Eternals" actor said. "Makes for a better working environment and, in my opinion, a better scene, because everyone comfortable and that's when you do your best work."
Actor Sean Gunn added that "abuse" can run rampant if coordinators are not involved.
"When you say that an intimacy coordinator isn’t needed, or 'ruins the spontaneity' of a scene, you are spitting in the face of the THOUSANDS of actors (almost always women) who are pressured to do a liiiitle bit more than they’re comfortable with," Gunn said. "Sometimes a lot more."
He added that many stars will allow their boundaries to be pushed, like Seyfried, because they are "hungry for work and TERRIFIED of being fired and replaced. So they tow the line and do as they’re asked. It’s just abuse."
So they tow the line and do as they’re asked. It’s just abuse.
But now intimacy coordinators are the standard and people who felt like the old way of doing things was workin’ just fine can’t seem to process that it was only workin’ just fine for THEM.
— Sean Gunn (@seangunn) August 10, 2022
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Amanda Seyfried, Sean Bean and sex scenes: The debate, explained