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Intimacy coaches on Hollywood film sets are 'absolutely essential' to protect young women, says Emma Thompson

9 February 2023, 18:42 | Updated: 10 February 2023, 01:54

Emma Thompson said intimacy coordinators are "absolutely essential" to protect young women
Emma Thompson said intimacy coordinators are "absolutely essential" to protect young women. Picture: Getty/LBC
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

It is "absolutely essential" intimacy coaches are used on Hollywood film sets to protect young women in an industry still dominated by men, Dame Emma Thompson has told LBC .

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Speaking on LBC's Tonight with Andrew Marr, the Oscar-winning actress spoke of her experience filming sex scenes on one of her most recent films, Good Luck To You, Leo Grande.

Andrew asked Dame Emma about comments made by high-profile actors, including Sir Ian McKellen, about intimacy coaches being unnecessary.

"I think if you're a young woman on a set which is largely peopled by men...that's a very uncomfortable position for a young woman who is starting in the industry," she told Andrew.

"It is absolutely essential that there is someone there to protect them, absolutely essential."

Emma Thompson talks about the need for intimacy coordinator's on set

Dame Emma also said that there is "no parity on any level" between men and women on film sets, adding that 90 per cent of people on set are men.

"You cannot imagine what some people went through on some of those big series when they first started. [Women] were just told 'you have to take your clothes off'," Dame Emma added.

She said her passion for intimacy coordinators arose after hearing "truly traumatic" experiences from fellow actors and that the problem affects men too.

Watch Tonight with Andrew Marr exclusively on Global Player every Monday to Thursday from 6pm to 7pm.

Emma Thompson
Emma Thompson. Picture: Getty

The British actress became a staunch defender of the use of intimacy coordinators on movie sets after fellow actor Sean Bean said they can "spoil the spontaneity" of sex scenes.

Speaking to Australian radio station Nova, Ms Thompson said they were "fantastically important".

"You might find that people go, 'It made me feel comfortable, it made me feel safe, it made me feel as though I was able to do this work.'," she said.

She added that intimacy coordinators have been "the most fantastic" additions to sets.

"And no, you can't just let it flow," she said. "There's a camera there and a crew. You're not on your own in a hotel room, you're surrounded by a bunch of blokes, mostly. So it's not a comfortable situation full stop."

You can also listen to the podcast Tonight with Andrew Marr only on Global Player.

Sir Ian McKellen
Sir Ian McKellen. Picture: Getty

Sir Ian McKellen also caused controversy when he questioned the need for intimacy coaches, suggesting they can get in the way of "pure" production.

“But why can’t it be the director who does that? Why has it got to be somebody who’s been trained in how to do it?," he asked Radio 4.

“This has been a huge change and it’s a little bit of beef for me, because with all these names of people doing all these jobs which would previously seem to have taken care of themselves, you won’t see any actors other than those you see in the play that night because they’re not permanently employed."

However, while Dame Emma said the use of intimacy coaches could help men, she said that it's an issue that disproportionately impacts women.

"It's all very well if you're a bloke - it's a different thing," Dame Emma told LBC.

She added: "It's not to say they're going to be in there all the time arranging your boobs, it's that they can be there in case you might feel that there's a position that you've got into that you're not quite comfortable with."

Dame Emma Thomson doesn't think she would be on a dating app now

Dame Emma also called for the menopause to become a protected characteristic in the Equality Act calling the cause championed by Davina McCall and other celebrities a "wonderful idea".

"The fact of the matter is, what women need or want, or need protection from, or desire has never been at the top of anyone's agenda in any country, in any part of the world until very recently," she said.

"So, it's fantastic that we're having these conversations and really recognising that there are 50% of the population that goes through this enormous change.

"We need to recognise it… We haven't got the period thing, right. Anyway, you know, there's still tax on tampons. That's ridiculous. It's insane, actually. So, yes, we need to do a lot more to support women through their lifespan. \

"And the more we do that, I think the more we will come to understand one another. There really isn't a great deal of discussion I don't think between men and women about their bodies and what happens to their bodies."

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