The ‘Bridgerton’ Intimacy Coordinator Treated Simon and Daphne’s Sex Scenes Like Stunts
Fans have lots of reasons to love Bridgerton—the many sex scenes are one of them. Things take a turn for the steamy in the Netflix series halfway through season 1 after Daphne Bridgerton and Simon Hastings’ wedding. The Shonda Rhimes show is based on a series of romance novels by Julia Quinn, so physical intimacy was always going to be part of the show.
Bridgerton star Regé-Jean Page hosted Saturday Night Live on Feb. 20, and he and the cast created a parody of the show’s intimacy coordinators. The actual Bridgerton intimacy coordinator opened up about choreographing the many sex scenes, and she said it was like stunt coordinating.
What does an intimacy coordinator do?
Intimacy coordinators are a relatively new position on film and TV sets. Still, they’re already a staple of any crew, especially for shows like Bridgerton, Hulu’s Normal People, and STARZ’s Outlander.
Tonia Sina originally coined the job title in her master’s thesis in 2006. She became one of the first people to stage intimate scenes for stage and film. The #MeToo movement made the job even more relevant, to the point where it’s uncouth not to have proper intimacy direction for any project.
An intimacy coordinator meets with actors participating in sex scenes (whatever the scene may entail) and learns the actors’ individual boundaries. From there, the intimacy coordinator choreographs the scene with those boundaries in mind.
The scenes require careful preparation, rehearsal, and execution with the actors and director to keep the participants comfortable. Still, as Bridgerton intimacy coordinator Lizzy Talbot explained, the rehearsal process can be a lot of fun.
Phoebe Dynevor and Regé-Jean Page shot their first ‘Bridgerton’ sex scene on day 1 of filming
Right from the start, Talbot knew the Bridgerton sex scenes would be told from the female gaze—a rarity.
“The very first scene, day one, we were doing a scene of female sexual pleasure in a gentlemen’s club that didn’t allow women in until 1980,” Talbot told The Sunday Times. “It was, like, ‘Oh, I see what you’re up to, Shondaland!’ It was very clear that from the outset this was going to be viewed from the female perspective.”
Talbot worked in fight direction before becoming an intimacy coordinator. She revealed that when she first started intimacy directing, there were barely any protocols, making the actors uneasy. She said:
“We would never have an issue working through the violence because there are so many protocols and procedures and techniques that you have to create the violence safely and it’s almost methodical to a point. “But then when we got to the intimacy part of it, that’s when everything started to . . . fracture. There weren’t any rules. There were no protocols for this. Everyone was relying on the good graces of their scene partner and the good intentions of their director, but that’s the safety net, and you can see for so many people that just wasn’t enough.”
The ‘Bridgerton’ sex scenes were treated like stunts
Given the fact that there are more sex scenes than fight/action scenes in Bridgerton, the sex scenes were given the same time and resources a stunt coordinator would.
“Normally you have to rehearse the same day that we shoot and that didn’t happen for Bridgerton,” Talbot said. “Because we had the time, we turned up prepared and all the choreography was laid out.”
Prioritizing the intimacy coordinator sessions helped normalize the role on set. As Talbot explained:
“When you’re treating the intimacy scenes in the same way that you are treating the stunt rehearsals, as you are treating the dance rehearsals, it takes the awkwardness and the fear out of them because it’s just another scene at that point.”
As with any creative process, there were mishaps along the way. And Talbot said those moments were some of the funniest memories from filming. One of those moments was during a rehearsal for a sex scene between Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) and Sienna Rosso (Sabrina Bartlett). Talbot said:
“At one point in the rehearsals, Sabrina slipped and sort of did this fireman’s pole down Johnny to the floor. And I don’t think we recovered for about 10 minutes. Production was calling up — ‘Are you finished?’ ‘One minute, I’m regaining the room!’ You’ve sort of got to find the joy in it because it is there inherently — bodies are funny and messy and they don’t always do what we want them to do.”
Bridgerton has been green-lit for season 2 at Netflix. And now that Simon and Daphne are comfortable in their relationship, prepare yourselves for a lot more steamy sex scenes.