Poor Things’ intimacy coordinator claimed she was kicked off sets in the wake of Hollywood’s #MeToo movement and revealed that even Emma Stone questioned the need for one during filming.
Elle McAlpine, 33, from London, co-founded her company EK Intimacy with her drama school classmate Katharine Hardman in 2022.
In recent years, the former actress has worked on TV shows such as It’s a Sin and The Great as an intimacy coordinator, providing support to stars and helping choreograph sex scenes.
speaking to The GuardianThe mother of one spoke about having to “sell herself” and constantly explain the role of intimacy coordinators in the #MeToo era.
Seven years ago, Elle agreed that there was an “undercurrent of sexism” around her work, because she was a woman in her 20s working with “very experienced” professionals who had never had to deal with “this bureaucracy” before. ” during filming.
Elle McApline, 33, has worked on It’s a Sin, The Great and Poor Things and became an intimacy coordinator after having a bad experience filming a sex scene as an actress.
Pictured: Emma Stone filming a sex scene as Bella Baxter in Poor Things, which won a Golden Globe for Best Picture.
She explained: “At first, when we were trying to vouch for ourselves, I felt a lot of pressure: the scene had to be good.”
Looking back, Elle said she was often met with hostility on sets and was even removed from productions at times.
He added: “I got sent off a couple of sets because I wasn’t helping, clearly.”
Without naming the production, Elle recalled how she went overboard and yelled ‘cut’ when she could see that an actor was ‘really uncomfortable.’
However, since the Screen Actors Guild made intimacy coordinators mandatory on sets in 2020 in response to #MeToo, Elle says directors are more welcoming and first meetings are “more like a chemistry read.”
In August 2023, Emma Stone said she didn’t think she would need Elle’s support “that much” when filming for Poor Things began.
The La La Land actress said: “I couldn’t have been more wrong. She was so gentle and passionate.
‘She was a great help. She changed the whole energy of the set and the feeling of security.”
Emma Stone and Mark Ruffalo portrayed as Bella Baxter and Duncan Wedderurn in the film Poor Things
Emma Stone (pictured) previously said she didn’t think she would need Elle’s support “that much” when filming for Poor Things began.
Although the film has been met with critical praise, some of the sex scenes, including one in which Bella Baxter has two children watching her work as a prostitute, surprised viewers.
Reflecting on that day of filming, Elle said that the presence of the children made getting the shots “quite difficult.”
Before filming, Elle informed the children’s parents about the scene, prompting one of their mothers to reassure her: “Oh, he watches Game of Thrones all the time, so it’s okay!”
Speaking on the Directors Note podcast, Elle explained how she explained her position to Emma Stone at the start of filming.
Elle said: ‘I remember saying (to Emma), your character has a lot of intimate relationships with men she doesn’t know.
‘And, by default, many supporting artists come.
“My job may be to help them because they are also entering a space where there is a huge power dynamic situation, where you have a very famous actor and a very famous director (…)
“There’s an enormous level of pressure that these supporting actors are going to feel walking into a room like that.
“So let me do my job to give them a space where they can feel safe and let me be in that space.”
In the wake of revelations of sexual misconduct about Harvey Weinstein, millions of people shared their stories of sexual harassment and assault.
The movement began in October 2017 after actress Alyssa Milano followed a suggestion from a friend of a friend and tweeted: “If you have been sexually harassed or assaulted, write ‘me too’ in response to this tweet.” The hashtag was tweeted almost a million times in 48 hours.
In a previous interview with the Daily Mail, Elle revealed that she decided to become an intimacy coordinator after having a bad experience filming a sex scene as an actress.
She said: “I remember filming a sex scene when I was 21 that wasn’t choreographed and the crew was all male, so I had to drag a make-up artist onto the set for moral support.”
‘The team was equally embarrassed and trying not to look, and that made me feel even more embarrassed. If I could go back in time, I would have asked for some time to go over what was expected: what would be shown, what areas of my body could be touched, and I would have also asked for female support.
“The director-actor relationship is unique and very often actors just want to please.
‘Now, if you don’t feel comfortable going to your director and saying ‘I don’t want to do this,’ you can talk to the intimacy coordinator, who will open the dialogue with the director.
‘Often when the director explains why something is part of a scene, why it’s part of the character, the actors will totally agree or might say, “I don’t want to do that kind of sex.” Can we change it? That’s a little more complicated conversation, but we get there. Overcoming obstacles this way often creates better sex scenes.’
With It’s A Sin, Elle worked alongside intimacy coordinator David Thackeray to draw the shapes they sought to recreate in the ‘sex montage’ – 11 separate scenes at the start of the drama.
“Those guys were really comfortable together and so embodied in their characters that it was a dream to work with them,” he says. ‘Russell T. Davies is very detailed and writes very well, but, in other productions, he might just say, “They’re having sex,” and we can help them work it out in a very choreographed way.
“The difficult thing is when an actor, who knows he has to do those sex scenes, doesn’t want to do them. This happened on a set where Ita and I arrived late in the day and the content of the sex scenes was a work in progress.
‘The actors were quite young, in their early 20s, and they had a lot of common sense and they insisted: “I’m not going to do that” and we had to tell the director. In the end it worked out well, but I think it’s important to have sex scenes written at the beginning, so they know what they’re signing up for.’