Yorgos Lanthimos’s Candid Defense of Intimacy Coordinators Was Refreshing

His next film, "Poor Things," opens later this year

Yorgos Lanthimos
Lanthimos attends a red carpet for the movie "Poor Things" at the 80th Venice International Film Festival
Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

The fact that intimacy coordinators are now a regular presence on film and television sets should be neither surprising nor shocking. If a project involves combat or weapons, you’d have trained personnel on set to make sure no one gets hurt; the same thing goes for scenes involving sex, nudity or some other form of intimacy. And yet some voices within the industry have cast aspersions on the need for intimacy coordinators — including actors Sean Bean and Frank Langella and director Mia Hansen-Løve. All of which makes it curiously refreshing when a high-profile voice weighs in on the subject of intimacy coordinators to argue that, yes, they are in fact vitally important to have on set.

The latest person to speak out in favor of intimacy coordinators is director Yorgos Lanthimos, who addressed the media at the Venice Film Festival while promoting his forthcoming film Poor Things. (Also, the novel it’s based on is highly recommended.) As Deadline’s Zac Ntim reports, Lanthimos made it clear that intimacy coordinators made aspects of the filming of Poor Things a better experience for everyone involved with the production.

“I have to credit Elle McAlpine, our intimacy coordinator. At the beginning, this profession felt a little threatening to most filmmakers, but I think it’s like everything: if you’re with a good person, it’s great and you realize you actually need them,” the director said. “She made everything much easier for everyone.”

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Lanthimos also credited his working relationship with the film’s star, Emma Stone — who was not on hand to promote the film because of the ongoing SAG strike — and the “shorthand” they’ve developed over the course of several projects.

An acclaimed filmmaker like Lanthimos making a vocal endorsement of the importance of intimacy coordinators feels like a good thing for the film industry moving forward. And given that both Stone and the film’s handling of sex are drawing critical praise — Vulture’s Rachel Handler called Stone’s Bella Baxter “one of the most charming, shamelessly sexual characters committed to screen” in her review — it’s also refreshing to hear a filmmaker crediting the crew member who helped the film get to that point.

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