There’s a particular steamy scene in “Bridgerton” that lots of people are talking about, but we won’t spoil it for you.
What we will say is that the “library scene,” as it’s come to be known, took some choreography when it came to that ladder and the action. Staging such scenes involves significantly more strategy and simulation than what happens in real life.
Elizabeth “Lizzy” Talbot is an intimacy coordinator who worked on the series and talked to CNN about the gig that some people don’t even realize exists in Hollywood.
“It’s not very glamorous at all,” she said, laughing.
Talbot was one of the first in her field to work on sets in the United Kingdom and is the founder and director of Intimacy for Stage and Screen (formally IDI-UK).
She is also certified in the US by Intimacy Directors and Coordinators, a professional organization which bills itself as “pioneering the best practices for performed intimacy, simulated sex and nudity for theatre, live performance, tv and film.”
Talbot actually got her start in the business coordinating fight scenes and began researching intimacy coordination in 2015, more than a decade after intimacy coordinator Tonia Sina first started doing work in the field of actors and physical touch on stage and screen.
In a recent interview with CNN, Talbot said that when it came to her work choreographing fights, there were plenty of rules, regulations and protocols.
“And yet when it came to intimacy, there weren’t any [rules and protocols initially],” she said. “It was just really interesting seeing the dynamic between the fact that there were all of these rules and regulations for violence and yet none for intimacy.”
Many people assume that sex scenes come naturally to actors, she said, but that isn’t always the case.
“One of the misconceptions is that because many people have experienced intimacy in their personal lives, it’s assumed that you can replicate it for audience, which are two very different things,” Talbot explained.
Talbot works with actors to determine their boundaries during sex scenes and there’s an “intimacy rider” which spells out exactly what an actor is willing to do in a scene.
“With the concept of consent that we work with, of course, if there’s anything where at any point anyone’s like, ‘Oh, you know, I don’t want to do this,’ they never will,” she said. “And it’s also my job to step in front of any director or producer and be like, ‘Hey, you know, like they’re not comfortable with this.’ I’ve been really lucky to work with great directors and producers so that’s never happened.”
Phoebe Dynevor stars as Daphne Bridgerton in the popular Netflix series and the aforementioned graphic sex scene was the first one she shot.
She hailed Talbot’s work in an interview with Grazia magazine, saying “it was so great, because it felt safe and fun: you choreograph it like a stunt, or a dance.”
“It’s crazy to me that [an intimacy coordinator] hasn’t been there in the past,” Dynevor said. “I’ve done sex scenes before that I can’t believe I did: it was only five or six years ago, but it would not be allowed now.”
Talbot said she’s seen her field take on greater importance in the #MeToo movement, with an increased focus on respect and consent on sets.
“That’s one of the things, the roles that our job can do is set expectations so that you don’t have that awkward moment of like, someone’s assuming it’s a 10 and someone’s assuming it’s a one with the intensity [of a scene],” she said. “It’s making sure that we’re all agreeing on the same page.”