Yara Greyjoy Actress Confirms What We Suspected All Along About GOT’s Steamy Scenes
“Game of Thrones” premiered in April 2011, but even though that’s a relatively short amount of time, it was a completely different era as far as filming sex scenes is concerned. In a recent interview, Gemma Whelan, the actress who played Yara Greyjoy, confirmed that the show’s sex scenes were not filmed with the care and respect that’s only recently become customary.
“Game of Thrones” is no stranger to controversy when it comes to sexual activity, both onscreen and behind the camera. In a November 2019 interview on Dax Shepard’s “Armchair Expert” podcast, Emilia Clarke, who played one of the series leads, Daenerys Targaryen, described what it was like to film her nude scenes: “I’d been on a film set twice before then, and I’m now on a film set completely naked with all of these people,” Clarke said. “And I don’t know what I’m meant to do, and I don’t know what’s expected of me, and I don’t know what you want, and I don’t know what I want” (via Buzzfeed).
And now, Gemma Whelan’s comments paint a very similar picture. Here’s what she said.
The way sex scenes were filmed on Game of Thrones was a 'mess'
Gemma Whelan discussed filming “Game of Thrones” sex scenes in an interview with The Guardian. According to Whelan, actors received almost no direction beforehand. “They used to just say, ‘When we shout action, go for it!’, and it could be a sort of frenzied mess,” Whelan explained.
This meant that the job of making sure people felt respected fell to the cast members themselves. “But between the actors, there was always an instinct to check in with each other,” Whelan continued. “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.”
Whelan described what it was like to film one of her character’s earliest scenes when Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) returns home to the Iron Islands and touches Yara inappropriately — not knowing that she’s his sister.
“Alfie was very much, ‘Is this OK? How are we going to make this work?’ With intimacy directors, it’s choreography — you move there, I move there, and permission and consent is given before you start. It is a step in the right direction.”
HBO began using intimacy coordinators in October 2018 on the show “The Deuce” (via Deadline), months before “Game of Thrones” ended. Comments like Whelan’s and Clarke’s show why intimacy coordinators are necessary on film and TV sets, and the fact that they’re becoming standard for productions is welcome news.