'Lady Chatterley's Lover' star Jack O'Connell says he wishes he had an intimacy coordinator as a teen on 'Skins'
- Jack O'Connell stars in Netflix's new adaptation of "Lady Chatterley's Lover" with Emma Corrin.
- He told Insider that he had never previously worked with an intimacy coordinator on sex scenes.
Jack O'Connell has called intimacy coordinators "necessary" after working with one for the first time in "Lady Chatterley's Lover," and said that "in hindsight," he wishes there was one on the set of his teen drama series, "Skins."
The British actor spoke to Insider ahead of the release of Netflix's new adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's seminal novel, in which he plays the role of Oliver Mellors, the taciturn but tender working-class gamekeeper who embarks on a passionate affair with his employer's wife, Lady Constance Chatterley (Emma Corrin).
Staying true to the story's erotic nature, the film features several intimate scenes between the two, culminating in a euphoric sequence in which they dance completely naked in the rain.
Full-frontal nudity was required of the actor and his costar, and O'Connell said that such scenes were only possible thanks to the help of "fantastic" intimacy coordinator and movement director Ita O'Brien, who previously worked on the BBC/Hulu series "Normal People."
Noting that it was his "first experience" of working with someone who has been specifically employed on set to facilitate the filming of sex scenes, he said he was glad to have them there.
"I think that it is necessary," he told Insider. "To have someone who's officially appointed to oversee that everyone is comfortable, I think it is vital."
O'Connell said it previously fell to other people on set to make sure the actors were comfortable
"In my experience, that job was unofficially designated to the costume department or the makeup department — the people who you're working closest with," O'Connell said, reflecting on explicit scenes he shot earlier on in his career.
The 32-year-old said that he always found those who had the task of unofficially overseeing intimate scenes fall to them "to be very considerate," but acknowledged that it wasn't necessarily their job.
"There would always be a sensitive approach to those types of days," and "the costume department would always make sure that you weren't naked for any longer than you had to be," he continued.
"And then, if you're fortunate enough, your director is also mindful of what's being required from you on that day," he added.
"I can totally understand why we're in a day and age where that role has to be a specific and official role," he continued. "Obviously, there are very highly publicized accounts of where there's been massive, massive failings in safeguarding. It seems to be a massive step in the right direction, and I'm all for it."
Looking back, O'Connell says he wished 'Skins' had an intimacy coordinator
O'Connell landed his breakout role at the age of 18 on the British drama series "Skins," which became a sensation among its teenage audience when it aired, but also caused controversy due to its explicit nature.
The series — which ran from 2007 to 2013 with a revolving cast of characters every two seasons — was an unflinching look at substance abuse, sex, mental illness, and a myriad of other teenage issues. It launched not only O'Connell's career but those of Nicholas Hoult, Dev Patel, Daniel Kaluuya, Joe Dempsie, and Hannah Murray, too.
O'Connell made his debut as the lovable but troubled Cook in the 2009 season three premiere, which concludes with his character having sex with his classmate Effy (Kaya Scodelario). He appears in four more sex scenes during the 10-episode-long season and has a few more in the show's fourth season.
Asked whether he wishes there had been an intimacy coordinator on set at the time, O'Connell responded: "Yeah. In hindsight, yeah."
Last year, April Pearson, who played Michelle Richardson in seasons one and two of the teen drama, said that she "didn't feel protected" during her own nude scenes.
On an episode of her podcast titled "Are You Michelle From Skins?," she spoke to Laya Lewis, who played Liv Malone in seasons five and six, who said she felt a similar way. Lewis also said she was told to "skip meals" amid "pressure" to be slimmer during scenes in which she appeared semi-nude.
"Nowadays you have an intimacy coordinator as a standard for nude, intimate scenes and that just simply wasn't a thing," Pearson said, noting how things have changed over the last decade.
Sean Bean — who played the role O'Connell is playing in the 1993 miniseries adaptation — previously said intimacy coordinators 'spoil the spontaneity' of sex scenes
Interestingly, it has been O'Connell's predecessor in the role of Mellors who has been the loudest detractor of the use of intimacy coordinators.
Sean Bean, who starred in the BBC's 1993 miniseries "Lady Chatterley" opposite Joely Richardson, said earlier this year that he believes intimacy coordinators "spoil the spontaneity" on a set during sex scenes.
"It would inhibit me more because it's drawing attention to things," Bean told UK's The Sunday Times. "Somebody saying, 'Do this, put your hands there, while you touch his thing... I think the natural way lovers behave would be ruined by someone bringing it right down to a technical exercise."
The actor noted how "spontaneous" his sex scenes were with Richardson, who returns for the 2022 adaptation to play the young lovers' ally, Mrs. Bolton.
"It was a joy," he said. "We had a good chemistry between us, and we knew what we were doing was unusual. Because she was married, I was married. But we were following the story. We were trying to portray the truth of what D.H. Lawrence wrote."
While O'Connell thinks Bean is a "brilliant actor," he said he didn't watch the earlier adaptation.
"I wouldn't really consider that too helpful beforehand, before going and doing our version," he said, adding: "I wanted to kind of approach it fresh."
"Lady Chatterley's Lover" is streaming on Netflix now.
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