'Romeo & Juliet': Jessie Buckey and Josh O’Connor share how they filmed intimacy during the pandemic

·Contributor
·2 min read

Watch: Josh O'Connor and Jessie Buckley share the secrets of Romeo & Juliet

Exactly how you film intimate scenes between actors has been one of the biggest challenges film productions have had to work out over the past year. Acting in the same room together, sans-masks, is a challenge enough to work around in the time of Covid — let alone smooching.

For Romeo & Juliet, a new take on Shakespeare's most iconic tragic love story which features plenty of kissing, the solution was with 'intimacy windows,' the cast tells Yahoo Movies UK.

The new film-play hybrid by the National Theatre stars Josh O’Connor (The Crown) and Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose) in the title roles, premieres on Easter Sunday on Sky Arts.

“We were tested twice a week, so there was always this three hour window after we got our test results, which was the ‘intimacy window’," O’Connor reveals,

Jessie Buckley and Josh O'Connor star in Romeo & Juliet (2021)
Jessie Buckley and Josh O'Connor star in Romeo & Juliet (2021)

“So, basically, if Jessie and I were going to rehearse the balcony scene, you'd get the test and then you'd be stood there, waiting until it said negative and then it was like, ‘Right, go!’ It was a very thrilling moment.”

Coronation Street tackled the issue with ‘kissing doubles’, Riverdale requires its stars to disinfect their mouths with mouthwash before every take and US soap The Bold and the Beautiful has had its actors make out with, erm, mannequins. 

Read more: Josh O'Connor on the physical challenge of playing Prince Charles

The film, rehearsed and shot in just three weeks using the backstage setting of London’s National Theatre also lines up a superb supporting cast, featuring Tamsin Greig, Lucian Msamati, Adrian Lester, Shubham Saraf, and Deborah Findlay, who were of course also subject to the same Covid compliance, even if their roles required less snogging.

Josh O'Connor and Jessie Buckley star in the 2021 National Theatre production of Romeo & Juliet.
Josh O'Connor and Jessie Buckley star in the 2021 National Theatre production of Romeo & Juliet.

“The National was, and rightly so, very careful about sanitising hands, and we had this brilliant stage manager who would go around with a tape measure, which was really funny,” explains Golden Globe winner O’Connor, of the social distancing in fair Verona.

Could a three-hour intimacy window sounds like something we should adopt in everyday life, we ponder with Jessie Buckley.

“It would be absolute carnage in three hours!” she considers.

Catch Yahoo Movies UK’s full chat in the video interview above — and see the altogether more classy results of the intimacy windows for yourself on Sky Arts this Easter Sunday.

National Theatre’s Romeo & Juliet will premiere on Sky Arts on Easter Sunday at 9pm. Sky Arts is now free for everyone to watch on Freeview Channel 11.