Emma Thompson has joined the actors pushing back against Sean Bean’s criticism of intimacy coordinators, describing the profession as a “fantastic introduction” that has made actors feel comfortable and safe.

Bean, best known for his work on Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, said earlier this week that coordinators reduce “the natural way lovers behave” into a “technical exercise”.

“It would inhibit me more because it’s drawing attention to things,” he said. “Somebody saying, ‘Do this, put your hands there while you touch his thing.’”

Coordinators have been introduced to film and TV production over the past five years in response to concerns raised by the #MeToo movement about safeguarding on set.

Speaking on the Fitzy and Wippa radio show in Australia, Thompson said: “Intimacy coordinators are the most fantastic introduction in our work. And no, you can’t just ‘let it flow’.”

Thompson continued: “There’s a camera there and a crew – it’s not on your own in a hotel room. You’re surrounded by a bunch of blokes carrying things. So it’s not a comfortable situation, full stop.”

She added that she’d been in positions where people said of the coordinator: “‘It made me comfortable, it made me feel safe, it made me feel as though I was able to do this work.”

Thompson was promoting Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, in which she plays a widow who hires a sex worker. That film, directed by Sophie Hyde from Katy Brand’s script, did not employ an intimacy coordinator despite an abundance of nudity and sex scenes.

“Intimacy coordinators are really important, and their work is so valuable and so useful and needed,” Thompson’s co-star, Daryl McCormack, has said. “But at the same time, we were able to come to each other and go, ‘What do you think is going to best serve our relationship with this?’ And we just found that out of the safety and out of the connection that we had already found. It felt real exciting to us to actually build that ourselves with the director.”

The film has been bought by Searchlight in the US, making it eligible for awards season despite having premiered on the small screen in the US.

Other actors to have criticised Bean’s opinions include Rachel Zegler and Jameela Jamil.

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