Kate Winslet And Salma Hayek’s Interviews Prove That Intimacy Coordinators Are A Dire Need On Set
If when the name ‘Bridgerton’ pops up, and you do not think about that three-minute montage of the Duke and Daphne making passionate love all across their estate, then did you even appreciate the show? For us, the audience, sex scenes are all about the chemistry and how they look, or how they make you feel while you watch them. But for the people making that scene happen—especially the actors—it can become an extremely difficult experience on set. Luckily, one of the biggest impacts of #MeToo has been making the entertainment industry realise the importance of employing intimacy coordinators on set, a fact that Ammonite actor Kate Winslet is highly appreciative of.
During her appearance on the How I Found My Voice podcast, Kate Winslet talked about how it would’ve been great to have an intimacy coordinator on set during her earlier films. So wished she could’ve used them to convey any awkwardness or discomfort she might have felt during the filming.
“I definitely wish I had them in the past, I definitely do. I just could have done with that friend really. Just having a friend to say, ‘Can you ask him just to not put his hands there?’ So it’s not you having to say, which can be pretty awkward.”
The actor, who will soon be seen in her new show for HBO, Mare Of Easton, also elaborated on how she herself turned intimacy coordinator on the show to help her 20-year-old costar Angourie Rice.
“Because there were no clothes that come off in the scene they didn’t consider bringing in an intimacy coordinator,” the actor explained. “And I just got the sense that she was nervous. So I said to her, ‘I’m going to be around for this, I’m going to stay, I won’t leave the set.’ She said: ‘Thank God Kate, thank you so much.’”
She explained how she had to sit in the boot of the car during filming to help with the scene, but she didn’t mind because she knew her costars would “feel better to have that one person who would be able to put their hand up and say: ‘Actually we need to cut now, is everyone feeling OK?’”
Don’t we love her for it, how she ensured that her younger costar was feeling safe on set?
For those not aware, yes, film and television productions now employee intimacy coordinators, and not just if their production is heavy on sex scenes. During the #MeToo movement, several instances came to light where actors were uncomfortable while shooting simulated sex scenes or scenes that involved nudity, but couldn’t do much about the invasiveness and uncomfortableness of it all. In the aftermath, the need for intimacy coordinators has witnessed a rise.
Not to be confused with an intimacy choreographer, who ‘choreographs’ what a simulated sex scene would entail, movements et. al, an intimacy coordinator is more like a monitor who ensures that the actors are feeling comfortable and safe during those scenes. Some of their tasks include ensuring that the actors are aware that such scenes are part of the film, that the context of these simulated sex scenes is understood clearly, and that the actors have given their explicit consent to it.
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They also have to act as liaisons for safe communication, where actors can tell them, instead of the director or fellow actor, that they’re not okay with certain touches, angles or scenes. A lot of times, the actors’ personal traumas can also make them uncomfortable with certain touches or gestures, and in such cases too, having an intimacy coordinator who can convey this to the director can feel more comfortable.
Most importantly, the coordinator has to ensure that the intimacy choreography that was agreed upon before the scene was shot is followed, so as to avoid any potential harassment or discomfort. There are also things called ‘post-closure exercises’ which the coordinators often engage in with the actors to make certain that when they leave the set, they’re doing so without stress and residual discomfort. You can read more here.
Also Read: Keira Knightley Says She Won’t Do Sex Scenes “Under The Male Gaze.” That’s A Pretty Powerful Statement.
Just as with Bridgerton, if I were to say Titanic, it would immediately conjure up flashes of the steamy lovemaking scene between Winslet’s Rose and Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jack in that vintage car. Pleasing to us, but can you imagine the awkwardness of shooting the scene with a fellow actor you’re working with for the first time, surrounded by lights and cameras and film crew, while someone shouts instructions in a mic on how you should kiss them or hold them and where your clothes need to go?
Years later, Winslet worked with Leo, now her dear friend, on Revolutionary Road, in which they played a dysfunctional married couple. Even though there was that ease and camaraderie now, if you think doing intimate scenes could’ve gotten any easier, you’re likely to be wrong. It never does get easy, does it?
In an interview with Metro UK, Lizzy Talbot, who was the intimacy coordinator for Bridgerton, talked about how things in the industry were changing as her profession gained more importance.
“Having an intimacy coordinator is becoming more standard. There is still a long way to go but it is exciting working with young actors now whose experiences of simulated sex scenes have only been with intimacy coordinators and have only been positive. With more experienced actors, every single one of them has a horror story about either them personally or someone they know. So they are coming into a sex scene with a bit of trepidation or anxiety.”
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And that is indeed quite true. Recently, actor Salma Hayek, while appearing as a guest on Dax Shepard and Monica Padman’s podcast “Armchair Expert”, revealed a rather difficult moment she experienced during the shoot of her 1995 film Desperado, alongside Antonio Banderas. Turns out, when she signed the film, there was no mention of a sex scene. However, eventually, it was added after the studio demanded that there be some chemistry between the leads.
Hayek spoke about the sex scene which was filmed on a closed set, with director Robert Rodriguez, his then-wife and producer Elizabeth Avellán and Banderas present. She had to let go of her towel, but she just couldn’t and broke down into tears repeatedly.
“I had a really, really hard time with that. “When we were going to start shooting, I started to sob. One of the things I was afraid of was Antonio, because he was an absolute gentleman and super nice and we’re still very close friends but he was very free. So it scared me that for him it was like nothing. I was not letting go of the towel. They would try to make me laugh and things and take it off for two seconds but I’d start crying again,” she said.
During the release of Sex Education Season 2, it was revealed to be one of the first Netflix shows to have employed an intimacy coordinator on set. Rightly so, since the show has quite a young cast and other than the fact that it is a show with lots of intimacy, you’d be contradicting the ethos of a show called Sex Education if your actors weren’t comfortable and informed.
While Hollywood seems to be getting onboard more and more with the idea, it still faces some hurdles, according to Talbot. But while they might come around in Hollywood, I find that a hard road back home in the Indian film industry. It’s one that thought had a #MeToo wave of its own, failed to let the moment mean something. Its impact is almost negligible. It would perhaps take a long, long time for intimacy coordinators to become regular features on film and TV show sets. But it doesn’t take away from the fact that they ought to be a mandatory requisite for filming.