West Side Story Star Rachel Zegler Defends Intimacy Coordinators After Criticizing Sean Bean Film Industry

Rachel Zegler, the actor best known for starring in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story, has spoken out in support of intimacy coordinators after criticizing Sean Bean’s role earlier this week.

Speaking to the Times, Bean said such coordinators — largely called in after #MeToo to help police on set — can spoil the spontaneity of shooting a sex scene.

“It would slow me down more because it draws attention to things,” Bean said. “Someone who says, ‘Do this, put your hands there, touching his thing.’

“I think the natural way in which lovers behave would be ruined by someone taking it to a technical exercise,” he added. Bean, who starred in Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, compared recent experiences to his 1993 shooting for a TV adaptation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover opposite Joely Richardson.

“Lady Chatterley was spontaneous,” Bean said. “It was a joy. We had good chemistry between us and we knew what we were doing was unusual. Because she was married, I was married. But we followed the story. We tried to represent the truth of what DH Lawrence wrote.”

A young Sean Bean (right), with Nigel Terry and Tilda Swinton in Derek Jarman's Caravaggio (1986).
A young Sean Bean (right), with Nigel Terry and Tilda Swinton in Derek Jarman’s Caravaggio (1986). Photo: Bfi/Allstar

Write on TwitterZegler disagreed with Bean’s stance, saying that intimacy coordinators “create a safe environment for actors” and that “spontaneity in intimate scenes can be unsafe. Wake up.”

She expressed her gratitude to the coordinator who worked with her and Ansel Elgort on West Side Story, saying, “they showed grace to a newcomer like me + trained people around me who have had years of experience.”

The Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theater Union released a statement saying they found it “disappointing to hear these comments from such a favorite and established actor on screen without acknowledging his privileged position and the vulnerabilities and challenges in the industry, especially young and less experienced actors can be confronted when shooting intimate scenes.”

Bectu head Philippa Childs added:

“Intimacy coordination provides essential support for performers during the preparation, rehearsal and recording of intimate action, and its increasing use is a welcome step in creating a safe environment for actors on set.

“These comments do a disservice to the intimacy coordinators and to the knowledge and contributions of the trained, skilled professionals who are our members who carry out this work. We applaud their commitment to keeping everyone safe and respected on set.”

Bean also criticized the editing of intimate scenes after the shoot, saying he was saddened to see sexual sequences involving himself, co-star Lena Hall and a mango cut from the TV series Snowpiercer.

“Often the best work you do, where you’re trying to push the boundaries and be experimental in nature, gets censored when TV companies or the advertisers say it’s so much,” Bean says. “It’s a beautiful scene, quite surreal, dreamy and abstract. And mango-like.”

Asked about the origins of intimacy coordinators, who want to protect vulnerable actors, Bean said: “I suppose it depends on the actress. This one [meaning Hall] had a musical cabaret background, so she was up for anything.”

Hall, who has starred in Broadway productions of Kinky Boots, Cats and Hedwig and the Angry Inch, responded by saying that Bean is “a great actor and that I felt not only at ease, but as if I had a real acting partner.” in those bizarre scenes.”

She added: “If I’m comfortable with my scene partner and with others in the room, then I don’t need an intimacy coordinator. BUT if there’s a part of me that feels weird, rude, overexposed etc…I’ll either challenge the need of the scene or I want an IC [intimacy coordinator].”

Amanda Seyfried in 2012 Rian Johnson Linda Lovelace Biopic
Amanda Seyfried in 2012 Rian Johnson Linda Lovelace Biopic Photo: Millennium Films/Sports photo/Allstar

Other actors who disagreed with Bean’s stance include The Good Place’s Jameela Jamil, who tweeted that sex scenes “should only be technical. It’s like a stunt. It’s our job as actors not to make it look technical.” No one wants an impromptu touch.”

The Guardian has reached out to representatives for Bean for comment.

In an interview published Tuesday in Porter magazine, Amanda Seyfried, the Mamma Mia! actor who received an Oscar nomination two years ago for her role in David Fincher’s Mank, said she lamented the lack of intimacy coordinators as she began her career.

Seyfried said she emerged “pretty unscathed” from her early days as an actor in Hollywood, but looks back on her early experiences with shock at herself and disappointment at others.

“At 19, walking around without my underwear on – like, are you kidding me? How did I let that happen?” said Seyfried. “Oh, I know why: I was 19 and I didn’t want to upset anyone and I wanted to keep my job. That’s why.”

Speaking to The Guardian earlier this year, director Adrian Lyne also expressed ambivalence about intimacy coordinators.

Ana de Armas and Ben Affleck in deep water.
Ana de Armas and Ben Affleck in deep water. Photo: Photo credit: Claire Folger/Claire Folger

“It indicates a lack of confidence. And that’s all I have. If the actors don’t trust me, I might as well go home. I have to make myself vulnerable to them; so they’d know I’d waste my guts, do anything for them. Then, with a bit of luck, I’ll get the same back.”

He contrasted shooting his most recent film, Deep Water, with Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas, who began a relationship on set, with making Fatal Attraction in the 1980s.

The stars of that film, Glenn Close and Michael Douglas, drank champagne for their first sex scene and margaritas for their second. “You can’t do that now!” said Lynn. “Why is everything so serious? God, it’s not like they’re getting paralyzed or anything.”

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