Despite the number of sex scenes in Gregg Araki’s upcoming Starz drama “Now Apocalypse,” the filmmaker said the show had neither the time nor the budget to have intimacy coordinators on set. But the cast and director said it was nonetheless a top priority for everyone on set that actors felt comfortable at all times.
“I’ve done a lot of movies with a lot of sex scenes,” Araki told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour on Tuesday. “It’s really important that you create an environment where the actors feel safe, where they feel protected. I always tell them to pull me aside and we can have a private conversation if they feel weird about something.”
A stylized look at the romantic, sexual and dating lives of 20-somethings in Los Angeles in the dating app era, “Now Apocalypse” doesn’t shy away from the more adventurous aspects of sex, Araki said.
Made up of 10 episodes shot across 40 days, Araki described the show as an “HBO-style, R-rated sex comedy,” something that was made clear to the actors from the very beginning. Longtime sex writer and “Slutever” producer Karley Sciortino is also writer and consulting producer on the series, and all 10 episodes were written and available to actors before casting began.
“If you’re not comfortable in that scenario, then don’t even audition,” Araki said. “It was very clear.”
The show’s stars, Avan Jogia, Kelli Berglund, Beau Mirchoff, Roxane Mesquida and Tyler Posey all agreed that they all felt very safe and protected while filming the show, including sex scenes, even without an intimacy coordinator present.
The position rose to popular attention when HBO announced last year that it had instituted a network-wide requirement that all of its productions have an intimacy coordinator on set during the filming of any intimate scenes between actors.
“I’m all for that concept because the truth is, not every set is as cool and as liberating as ours is, as comforting as ours is,” Jogia said, praising the “30 years of collective sex positivity” of Araki and Sciortino. “So I’m all for that concept, especially when you have scenes that are not so joyful in their nature, as far as sexually joyful.”
Araki concurred, agreeing that he supports the concept of having coordinators on set to help actors feel comfortable even though “Now Apocalypse,” he said, “didn’t have the time or budget or the schedule for one.”
“I like to be my own,” he said. “Certain directors are not as comfortable with that, but I am comfortable with it, so I always talk to my actors. Even if I had an intimacy coach, I would prefer they talk to me first or talk to me as well, because that’s how I work with my actors. They can tell me anything.”
But not everyone saw the need for the specialized position. Mesquida, a French actress, laughed off the idea of intimacy coordinators entirely.
“That’s such an American question,” she said. “We don’t sign nudity waivers or whatever.”
“I just don’t understand. What is so scary about sexuality? … For me, it’s just like cold water, you just jump in and don’t think about it,” she explained.