How Actors Deal with This Issue During Intimate Scenes

By: Beth Moreton | Published: Feb 27, 2024

While many actors are pro at what they do, one aspect of acting that can get a little awkward is intimacy scenes.

Even though they might look good for the audience, it can take quite a while to shoot the perfect intimate scene.

Actors Can Become Aroused on Set

Arousal is one of the main issues when it comes to intimate scenes and is what can prolong shooting a scene.

A scene from ‘My Fault’. The two characters, Noah and Nick, are leaning in to kiss each other. Nick has a cut on his face.

Source: Amazon Prime Video UK & IE/YouTube

The reason this type of problem on the scene can take up so much time is because the crew needs to give the actor time to sort the issue out.

Arousal Is Completely Normal

Intimacy coordinator David Thackeray spoke to Business Insider and said that an actor getting aroused while filming an intimacy scene is completely normal.

An intimacy scene from ‘Bridgerton’. The scene features two characters kissing each other. The woman is lying in the man’s arms.

Source: World of Films/YouTube

Thackeray said that intimacy scenes are physically and mentally challenging and that this is what can cause them to be aroused. 

Cast and Crew are Made Aware of Arousal Being Normal

It can be a tricky situation for anyone, especially the actors, to become aroused when filming an intimate scene.

An intimate scene from Bridgerton. The two characters are kissing in bed.

Source: World of Films/YouTube

However, the intimacy coordinators have to make the entire cast and crew aware that this is normal, and while it might be frustrating, these things happen. 

Intimacy Coordinators Will Be on Set

Whenever a film or TV show requires an intimate scene, there will always be an intimacy coordinator on hand to help with the proceedings.

An intimacy scene from ‘Bridgerton’. The two characters are lying in bed and looking towards a door.

Source: World of Films/YouTube

They are there to help with the intricacies of the scene and to ensure the safety of those involved, fulfill the director’s wishes, and help avoid unnecessary production delays, according to Variety

The Protocols for Dealing with Intimacy

Like all film and TV sets, there are protocols for everything, including for when an actor becomes aroused during an intimate scene.

An intimacy scene from ‘After We Collided’. The two characters are leaning in to kiss each other.

Source: DOD Multimedia/YouTube

This includes allowing the actor to be more involved in regards to what they are and aren’t comfortable with, such as having a body double perform the intimacy scenes for them, according to Business Insider


Sometimes a Timeout Might Be Called

Not everything always goes to plan, and intimate scenes are one of those times when things can go wrong. Filming might have to come to a halt, as it commonly does for other on-set issues.

An intimacy scene from ‘Grown-ish’. The two characters are kissing against the wall.

Source: Freeform/YouTube

In intimacy scenes, reasons for a stoppage include the choreography not being quite right, a modesty garment coming undone, or arousal.


The Crew Can Also Call a Timeout If Necessary

While the actor is always able to call a timeout during an intimate scene if they aren’t quite happy with things (regardless of the reason), so can the crew.

An intimacy scene from ‘Normal People’. The two characters are lying in bed together and are kissing each other.

Source: Hulu/YouTube

The crew can do this if they feel there is something going on in the scene that they are not quite happy with, per the Guidelines for Doing Intimate Scenes in Camera Work.


Intimacy Coordinators Normalize Things Going Wrong

Sometimes for an actor, it can be quite off-putting when something goes wrong during an intimate scene and they have an entire film crew watching them.

An intimacy scene from ‘Bridgerton’. The two characters are kissing each other.

Source: Laverdeta/YouTube

However, this is where the role of the intimacy coordinator comes in as they can assure the actor that these things happen quite regularly and that they don’t have anything to be embarrassed about. 


The Crew Needs to Be Aware of What Is Happening

While the actors will all have a script of the scenes they’re in and know what to expect, sometimes some of the crew might not be as aware of what is going on.

An intimacy scene from ‘Fifty Shades Darker’. The two characters in the scene are kissing each other against a wall.

Source: CelineChl/YouTube

This is another area where the intimacy coordinator can help, as they make sure that the people who are on set during the filming of intimacy scenes know exactly what is going on and when. 


Sometimes the Fun Is Taken Out of It

During an interview on “The Johnathon Ross Show,” Kate Hudson was on with British rapper Stormzy, and he was asking her about how intimacy scenes work.

An intimacy scene from ‘Good People’. The two characters are in the shower and looking at each other.

Source: Love Scene HB/YouTube

As reported by LadBible, Hudson replied by saying that it can be quite mechanical and that with the amount of people around watching, it’s not as enjoyable as some people might think.


It’s All About Safety

One of the main things for actors in intimate scenes is safety, especially when it comes to the people they are filming the scene with.

An intimacy scene from ‘How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days’. Both characters in the scene are kissing each other.

Source: Binge Society/YouTube

According to Hudson, as long as they feel safe around the actor they are filming the intimate scenes with and the crew there, then it can be a good experience. Otherwise, things tend to get a little awkward. 


Communication Is Key

Clearly, when it comes to intimate scenes, one of the most important factors to consider is communication.

An intimacy scene from ‘Love Victor’. The two characters in the scene are kissing each other.

Source: deriky123/Hulu/YouTube

As long as the actors and crew can communicate well with each other, especially when it comes to what they are and aren’t comfortable with, this helps with the overall filming experience and helps make it a positive one.