West Side Story star Rachel Zegler defends intimacy coordinators after Sean Bean criticism (2024)

Rachel Zegler, the actor who rose to fame as the lead in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story, has spoken up in support of intimacy coordinators, after criticism of the role by Sean Bean earlier in the week.

Speaking to the Times, Bean said such coordinators – largely brought in post #MeToo to help police on-set safety – can “spoil the spontaneity” of shooting a sex scene.

“It would inhibit me more because it’s drawing attention to things,” Bean said. “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,” he added. Bean, who starred in Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, compared recent experiences to his time shooting a 1993 TV adaptation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover opposite Joely Richardson.

“Lady Chatterley was spontaneous,” Bean said. “It was a joy. 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 DH Lawrence wrote.”

West Side Story star Rachel Zegler defends intimacy coordinators after Sean Bean criticism (1)

Writing on Twitter, Zegler took issue with Bean’s position, saying intimacy coordinators “establish an environment of safety for actors” and that “spontaneity in intimate scenes can be unsafe. Wake up.”

She expressed her gratitude to the coordinator who worked with her and Ansel Elgort on West Side Story, saying “they showed grace to a newcomer like myself + educated those around me who’ve had years of experience.”

The Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union issued a statement saying they found it “disappointing to hear these comments from such a screen favourite and established actor without acknowledging his position of privilege and the vulnerabilities and challenges many in the industry, particularly young and less experienced actors, may face as they engage in shooting intimate scenes.”

Added Bectu head Philippa Childs:

“Intimacy coordination provides vital support for artists during the preparation, rehearsal and shooting of intimate action and its increasing use is a welcome move to further establish an environment of safety for actors on set.

“These comments display a disservice to intimacy co-ordinators and to the knowledge and contributions of the trained, skilled professionals our members who carry out this work are. We applaud their commitment to keeping everyone safe and respected on set.”

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Bean had also criticised post-shoot editing of intimate scenes, saying that he was saddened to see sexual sequences involving himself, co-star Lena Hall and a mango had been cut from TV series Snowpiercer.

“Often the best work you do, where you’re trying to push the boundaries, and the very nature of it is experimental, gets censored when TV companies or the advertisers say it’s so much,” said Bean. “It’s a nice scene, quite surreal, dream-like and abstract. And mango-esque.”

Asked about the origins of intimacy coordinators, who are seeking to protect vulnerable actors, Bean said: “I suppose it depends on the actress. This one [meaning Hall] had a musical cabaret background, so she was up for anything.”

Hall, who has starred in Broadway productions of Kinky Boots, Cats and Hedwig and the Angry Inch responded by saying that Bean is “an awesome actor and made me feel not only comfortable but also like I had a true acting partner in those bizarre scenes.”

She added: “If I feel comfortable with my scene partner and with others in the room then I won’t need an intimacy coordinator. BUT if there is any part of me that is feeling weird, gross, over exposed etc … I will either challenge the necessity of the scene or I’ll want an IC [intimacy coordinator].”

West Side Story star Rachel Zegler defends intimacy coordinators after Sean Bean criticism (2)

Other actors who took issue with Bean’s stance include The Good Place’s Jameela Jamil, who tweeted that sex scenes “should only be technical. It’s like a stunt. Our job as actors is to make it not look technical. Nobody wants an impromptu grope.”

Representatives for Bean said the actor declined to comment further.

In an interview published on Tuesday in Porter magazine, Amanda Seyfried, the Mamma Mia! actor who was Oscar nominated two years ago for her role in David Fincher’s Mank, said regretted the lack of intimacy coordinators when she was beginning her career.

Seyfried said she emerged “pretty unscathed” from her early days as an actor in Hollywood, but reflects on her early experiences with shock at herself and disappointment with others.

“Being 19, walking around without my underwear on – like, are you kidding me? How did I let that happen?” Seyfried said. “Oh, I know why: I was 19 and I didn’t want to upset anybody and I wanted to keep my job. That’s why.”

Speaking to the Guardian earlier this year, the director Adrian Lyne also expressed ambivalence about intimacy coordinators.

West Side Story star Rachel Zegler defends intimacy coordinators after Sean Bean criticism (3)

“It implies a lack of trust. And that’s all I have. If the actors don’t trust me, I might as well go home. I’ve gotta make myself vulnerable for them; for them to know I would spill my guts, do anything for them. Then, with any luck, I get the same back.”

He contrasted shooting his most recent film, Deep Water, starring Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas, who began a relationship on set, with making Fatal Attraction in the 1980s.

The stars of that film, Glenn Close and Michael Douglas, swigged champagne before their first sex scene, and margaritas before their second. “You can’t do that now!” said Lyne. “Why is everything so serious? God, it’s not like they’re gonna get paralysed or something.”

West Side Story star Rachel Zegler defends intimacy coordinators after Sean Bean criticism (2024)


West Side Story star Rachel Zegler defends intimacy coordinators after Sean Bean criticism? ›

Writing on Twitter, Zegler took issue with Bean's position, saying intimacy coordinators “establish an environment of safety for actors” and that “spontaneity in intimate scenes can be unsafe. Wake up.”

Who are Rachel Zegler's parents? ›

So my parents are my heroes." Gina and Craig Zegler have been married since 1992 and have two daughters. Jacqueline Zegler was born on Jan. 4, 1999, followed by Rachel on May 3, 2001.

What has Rachel Zegler been in? ›

Rachel Zegler (born May 3, 2001) is an American actor and singer who starred in Steven Spielberg's remake of "West Side Story" (2021), for which she won the Golden Globe for best actress in a comedy or musical, and Disney's live-action remake of "Snow White." Zegler was born in Hackensack, New Jersey, and named after ...

How old is Rachel Zegler in West Side Story? ›

“I wanted (Maria) to be very young,” Spielberg says. “Rachel was 17 when she got the part and blew out her birthday candles on set when she turned 18.

What ethnicity is Rachel Zegler? ›

Her mother is of Colombian descent. Her maternal grandmother immigrated from Barranquilla, Colombia to the United States in the 1960s. Her father is of Polish descent. She was raised in Clifton, New Jersey, where she attended St. Philip the Apostle Preparatory School.

What ethnicity is Rachel House? ›

House was born 20 October 1971 in Auckland and raised in Kamo, Whangarei by her adoptive Scottish parents John and Sheila House. Her Māori iwi (tribal) affiliations are Ngāti Mutunga, Te Ātiawa and Ngāi Tahu.

What is the age gap between Tony and Maria? ›

Tony is 30. Maria is 21. Anita is 32. "Winning a Tony this year is like winning Best Attendance in third grade: no one will care but the winner and their mom."

Is Rachel Zegler Lucy Gray? ›

Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray Baird in 'The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes'.

Does Rachel Zegler speak Spanish fluently? ›

(Poor Zegler, who is seen chatting with Jennifer Lawrence throughout the encounter, was dragged into the fracas by association: Raised in New Jersey, she doesn't speak Spanish either.)

Does Rachel true have a sister? ›

True was born in New York City, the middle of three children. Her father is of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, whereas her mother is of African American heritage. Her younger sister, Noel, is also an actress.

How was Rachel Zegler discovered? ›

– How did Rachel Zegler get discovered? Rachel Zegler responded to Steven Spielberg's 2018 open casting call on X (then Twitter) for The West Side Story with videos of her singing Tonight and I Feel Pretty. She eventually beat 30,000 others to clinch the role.

Can Rachel Zegler sing? ›

And if you're wondering if that's her singing them all... the answer is yes. Rachel Zegler, who is an incredibly talented singer and musical performer (have you seen West Side Story?!), does all her own vocals for the film. Even more impressive than that? She sang every single take live.

Who played Maria in West Side Story? ›

Maria: Natalie Wood and Rachel Zegler

Natalie Wood originally played Maria in the 1961 film. Even though the late Oscar-nominated actress had many notable roles throughout her career, including Miracle on 34th Street, Splendor in the Grass and Gypsy, her part in West Side Story is often regarded as one of her greatest.

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