Over the last few years, a specific job has gained a lot of traction in the entertainment industry: the intimacy coordinator. As per SAG-AFTRA, they’re the people on set whose jobs are to act as “an advocate, a liaison between actors and production … in regard to nudity and simulated sex.” If a show or movie has a sex scene, they’re there on set, choreographing intimate action, ensuring closed sets stay that way, even working with costumes and prosthetics. They’re even there during pre-production, helping plan what kind of intimacy will be captured on camera. It’s a job that’s become especially pronounced in the #MeToo era. But not all films use intimacy coordinators, even ones with tabloid-grabbing sex scenes.
One such film was Don’t Worry Darling, director Olivia Wilde’s highly anticipated — then tabloid-grabbing — follow-up to Booksmart. One of the first attention-nabbing bits of the film, which purports to be about a closed community in the 1950s, was some torrid action between stars Florence Pugh and Harry Styles, including a roundelay on a kitchen table. So did they use an intimacy coordinator?
The answer: Nope. The Cut studied the film’s end credits, and while there were 11 people in the “health and safety” section — including COVID-19 precaution gigs — there was no intimacy coordinator to be found.
Wilde has not specifically addressed the lack of that job on her latest film, but she has spoken about the film’s sex scenes. She told AP that “we still live in a really puritanical society,” she argued that “the lack of eroticism in American film is kind of new,” perhaps alluding to the decline of erotic thrillers and other films that prominently feature sex — once a significant part of the cinematic and TV landscape.
“Then when it comes to female pleasure, it’s something that we just don’t see very often unless you’re talking about queer cinema,” she added. “You know, it’s interesting because in a lot of queer films, the female characters are allowed to have more pleasure. Audiences aren’t as puritanical as corporations think they are.
“And yet people get upset,” she continued. “I mean, people are upset with me already over this. I think it’s a testament to the film. We want to be provocative. The idea is not to make you feel safe.”
Still, it’s clear some would prefer intimacy coordinators on set. Over the summer, Amanda Seyfried lamented the lack of those positions on films she made when she was younger. And Sean Bean earned scorn when he lambasted the job, saying they ruin sex scenes — a take that prompted many to take umbrage.
Don’t Worry Darling now streams on HBO Max.