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This is what happens when actors get turned on during sex scenes, according to an intimacy coordinat...

This Is What Happens When Actors Get Turned On During Sex Scenes

Everyone, stay calm!


For most people, performing a sex scene in front of a room full of people and cameras sounds like a really awkward day at work. But for some actors, it’s a regular part of the job. Still, that doesn’t mean that these steamy moments always go smoothly. Occasionally, actors get turned on while filming sex scenes, and it’s the production team’s job to keep things professional and comfortable for everyone involved — despite the potential elephant in the room.

Speaking to Insider, David Thackeray, an intimacy coordinator for plenty of Hollywood studios, explained how actors and production handle these accidental moments of arousal. Per Thackeray, it’s important to “[make] it really clear that's normal and that the worst thing you can do is carry on.”

According to him, it’s important to acknowledge what’s going on rather than ignoring it. “Just making sure it's out in the room by going, ‘Hey, this can happen,’ Thackeray said. Still, that doesn’t mean you have to pile on to the nervous energy with a ton of attention. “The worst thing we can do is gawk or make it a massive deal.”

Rather than playing oblivious or pointing a finger, Thackeray’s go-to in these scenarios is giving everyone a quick break. “We call that a time-out. Give them five minutes then I come in and check in,” Thackeray explained. “Then we come back into it when they're ready.”

Getting turned on happens, and it can be unavoidable. That said, for everyone’s best interests, it’s important to prepare the whole team ahead of filming sex scenes. “I will say for the crew as well, making sure they're aware of what scene is being shot, what nudity is gonna be seen. You don't want them to be surprised,” Thackeray added.

During a Jan. 2019 interview with Mashable, intimacy coordinator Ita O'Brien (who worked on Netflix’s Sex Education) shared a similar approach to filming sex scenes. “I'm there to help them choreograph it clearly, ensuring everyone was okay with both the physicality and the nudity,” she told the outlet. “I give a structure and process to get through sex scenes.” Having that structure definitely comes in handy in case anyone starts feeling some type of way mid-scene.

How Often Do Actors Get Turned On While Filming Sex Scenes?

It’s a good idea to have a structure in place in case things veer into more steamy than professional territory, but it may not always be necessary. Often, when actors discuss the work behind sex scenes, things sound more arduous than amorous.

During a Jan. 2021 interview with Glamour, Phoebe Dyvenor opened up about filming the steamier scenes — and it was no walk in Hyde Park. “[The masturbation scene] was the hardest scene to shoot... You feel very vulnerable in those scenes,” she explained. “The stage directions are very specific: You have to [perform having] an orgasm. It's a difficult thing to rehearse, which means you don't. You just do it.”

In contrast, her fiery shots with Regé-Jean Page were a little more practiced. “We did the intimate scenes like stunts—we blocked them out, so you have yoga balls in between you and all sorts of things that never make you feel exposed in any way. You always feel safe. I'd rehearse with Regé so much that we both knew what we were doing. It felt very practical.”

Other celebs have also opened up their thoughts on filming sex scenes. Justin Timberlake, who filmed plenty of sex scenes with Mila Kunis for Friends With Benefits, told BBC, “It's actually kind of annoying, you're there for 12 hours, it's exhausting. All those scenes revolve around the dialogue and physical humor, [it] is so tiring.”

Samira Wiler from Orange Is The New Black also felt like her sex scenes were decidedly un-sexy. “It definitely wasn't sexy. It felt very mechanical,” she told Huff Post in 2014.

Outlander’s Caitriona Balfe had a similar opinion on filming these intimate moments. “I can't say that I love all of the sex scenes. They're never the most fun to film,” she told Express in February.

Whether getting turned on during these scenes is a frequent occurrence or more of a rarity, it’s always better to be over-prepared.