Sean Bean Under Fire After Denouncing Intimacy Coordinators on Set

·3 min read

Colleagues and viewers alike disagree with his views.

In a recent interview with The Times of London, Game of Thrones star Sean Bean spoke about intimacy coordinators on set, per HuffPost. Now, he’s facing backlash for his take on the profession.

According to the publication, Bean denounced having intimacy coordinators on set, claiming that their presence would get in the way of the actors doing their jobs and “spoil the spontaneity” of the scenes they’re working on. “I think the natural way lovers behave would be ruined by someone bringing it right down to a technical exercise,” he said.

“Spontaneity in intimate scenes can be unsafe. wake up,” actress Rachel Zegler wrote in part on Twitter in response to his comments.

Emmy Rossum responded with a simple “👏 ❤️,” and Renee Rapp wrote, “oh this makes my f—--g blood boil.”

When somebody responded to Zegler noting that “it depends," she said, “no it literally doesn’t. safety first, always.’”

Spontaneity is the whole reason intimacy coordinators exist.

Ita O'Brien, an intimacy coordinator, explained to Esquire exactly what the profession is all about as it has only emerged in the last few years. Intimacy coordinators help choreograph intimate scenes on camera, but “it’s also a constant negotiation of consent and communication, with intimacy coordinators balancing the safety of performers alongside the vision of writers and directors,” according to the article. It was O’Brien that created a set of Intimacy on Set Guidelines that have become industry standard, and she and actor Paapa Essiedu both liken the role to stunt coordinators—a critical safety officer on set. In short, they ensure each participant's comfort and consent throughout the production.

When the interviewer reportedly pointed this out to Bean, he defended his stance, saying, “I suppose it depends on the actress. [Lena Hall, for example] had a musical cabaret background, so she was up for anything.”

Hall responded to the comments on Twitter shortly after the interview, writing, “Just because I am in theater…does not mean that I am up for anything…” In the same thread, 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.”

She added that Bean did make her feel comfortable during their scenes together in Snowpiercer, but, “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 response to a Variety article that reported the actresses were “fighting back” against Bean’s criticism, Hall responded, “Am I fighting? Or am I clarifying my needs and any misinformation in the article?”

Jameela Jamil also wrote, in part, “Nobody wants an impromptu grope…”

Comments in support of intimacy coordinators from non-actors flooded in, too.

One user wrote: “An intimacy co-ordinator is there to protect and support often vulnerable, often young, often female actors in situations that have on many occasions in the past led to pressure, exploitation, or regret. It's a vital role, that is long overdue in the business.”

Another pointed out, “Yeah, it's definitely not appropriate to start improvising…”

“Sure, sure, bc the Intimacy Coordinator is what would ruin the "natural way lovers behave" & not the camera, director, ADs, lighting crew, sound people, etc or being on a set that would do it,” it continued.

Intimacy coordinators clearly play a vital part on film and television sets, and its time for even the old-school actors to get on board.

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