Gemma Whelan, who played Yara Greyjoy on Game of Thrones, made a comment in 2021 about her sex scenes in GOT being a “frenzied mess” without an intimacy coordinator. That statement went viral, and now, the actress is setting the record straight about her quotes and how intimate scenes were handled on the HBO hit.
In the past, Gemma Whelan’s comments about the sex scenes on Game of Thrones, and specifically the one she shared with Alfie Allen, who played her brother Theon Greyjoy, were taken out of context. She mentioned they were a “frenzied mess” at times after being asked if the actors were “just left to get on with it.” There was a lot more to her initial explanation about how the cast worked together to make those scenes comfortable and safe for each other, and she reiterated that point to the Daily Mail, saying:
You’d say to the other person, ‘How about this, shall we do this, are you OK if I do this – ooh, this feels a bit weird, doesn’t it!’
Intimacy coordinators were not around when Game of Thrones was in production. So, there wasn’t as much discussion about or choreography for scenes like the one between Theon and Yara on the horse before he realizes he’s trying to have sex with his sister. That was the point she was getting at, as she explained the cast of GOT worked together to figure out the sequences in a professional and comfortable way.
If you go back to the original article that included her saying these scenes could be a “frenzied mess,” you’ll notice that she did clarify that the actors were constantly checking in with each other while they shot those sex scenes. She told The Guardian back in 2021:
Almost literally. They used to just say, ‘When we shout action, go for it!’, and it could be a sort of frenzied mess. But between the actors there was always an instinct to check in with each other. There was a scene in a brothel with a woman and she was so exposed that we talked together about where the camera would be and what she was happy with. A director might say, ‘Bit of boob biting, then slap her bum and go!’, but I’d always talk it through with the other actor.
In the same story, Whelan also explained that during the horse-ride scene between her and Allen, he was consistently asking if she was “OK,” and they would talk about how they were going to play out the scene.
Now, when shows feature a lot of sex and nudity, an intimacy coordinator is almost always involved. GOT’s prequel series House of the Dragon had one on set to help out with scenes, like that brothel sequence between Rhaenyra and Daemon that featured extras “69in for 12 hours,” as Milly Alcock put it.
Between these intense sex scenes, the gruesome deaths and moments of violence on Game of Thrones, I imagine shooting it can be difficult. However, based on Whelan’s comments from both 2021 and today, it seems like the cast was always there to support one another.
If you are looking to stream either Game of Thrones or House of the Dragon, you can do so with a Max subscription.