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SYFY WIRE House of the Dragon

'House of the Dragon' intimacy coordinator responds to Sean Bean's criticism of her job

House of the Dragon's intimacy coordinator has weighed in after a Game of Thrones star criticized her position.

By Matthew Jackson
Milly Alcock and Fabien Frankel in House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 4

In recent years, more and more film and TV productions have hired "intimacy coordinators" to help actors and directors with sex and love scenes on their sets. The job is, as its title suggests, very similar to what a stunt coordinator might do for a fight scene. Intimacy coordinators help with blocking and body positions, but also with assuring the safety and comfort of each performer. 

One of House of the Dragon's intimacy coordinators, Miriam Lucia, certainly had her work cut out for her in last week's episode, which featured numerous intimate sequences, including one involving star Emily Carey (Queen Alicent Hightower) and two involving Milly Alcock (Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen. Speaking to Deadline about her work on the series, Lucia focused on Carey's scene with co-star Paddy Considine (King Viserys Targaryen) as a particularly focused task, in part because Carey, who just turned 19 this past April, was so nervous about the scene. 

"Well, she basically said she was very frightened ahead of that scene, and that without an intimacy coordinator she wouldn’t have known how to handle it," Lucia said. "It was good to hear that following on from Sean Bean’s comments about how intimacy coordinators ruin spontaneity. But I get why he said that, because he doesn’t have the same experience of it, and because this is a new function on sets.

RELATED STORY: 'House of the Dragon's Emily Carey was initially 'scared' about Alicent Hightower’s sex scene

"People don’t really know what it is that we do. Some question why we’re there. It can still be weird for people who wonder if I’m checking up on whether they’re adhering to the rules of a closed set. But often my work has been done beforehand behind the scenes, talking to the director, the producer, the actors, even lawyers if necessary, in terms of waivers and things that need to happen. And if there’s an issue or a change, or something becomes physically uncomfortable, or mentally uncomfortable, we shift it, but at that point, the work has largely been done, and hopefully it’s seamless. We need to be ready for the shoot date but also to know there won’t be any ugly surprises."

As Lucia mentioned, intimacy coordinators have faced criticism from numerous people in the film and television industry, but one particularly notable recent example is former Game of Thrones star Sean Bean. Back in August, Bean questioned the necessity of intimacy coordinators in the first place, saying that their presence could "spoil the spontaneity" of a given scene and noting that his past performances in sex scenes were more about "chemistry" than preparation. Lucia, who's very aware that many people are still not accustomed to her job description, responded to Bean's criticisms like this:

"I just think he is a man of a certain age, who has been in this industry for a very long time, and he doesn’t have an experience of the other side," Lucia said. "Or maybe he’s had a bad experience of working with an intimacy coordinator. All I would say is that in my experience so far, I don’t think it gets in the way of the creative process. I think it helps to enable the creative process, because I think once you’ve worked out what the actors are comfortable with in terms of touch and consent, and what the movements are going to be, then you add the emotion to it. And then you find the freedom, because you’re not scrambling and fumbling and trying to find it there and then in the moment."

Lucia also noted that every HBO production featuring any kind of intimate scene now has an intimacy coordinator on hand, and it certainly hasn't slowed down the pace of adult content on the network yet. As for House of the Dragon, we've almost certainly not seen the last of Lucia's work on Season 1. New episodes of the hit Game of Thrones prequel series arrive on Sundays.

Looking for more fantasy content to tide you over? Click here for our list of the best fantasy films available on Peacock.