Abrahamson and the lead actors have taken what’s at the heart of those sex scenes and made them feel even more intimate on screen. That is partly thanks to the show’s on-set intimacy director, as the team hired Ita O’Brien - the same intimacy coach who worked on Netflix’s Sex Education.
Both of the lead actors in Normal People are relatively young - Daisy is 21, and Paul is 24 - with little to no experience of filming sex on screen, but it does feature prominently in the book.
Showing how much the filming industry has changed over the years, Daisy and Paul both now feel very strongly that they wouldn’t feel comfortable working without an intimacy director on future projects that involve filming sex scenes.
Edgar-Jones says animatedly: “It was wonderful [having Ita on set]. It was amazing. I can’t imagine doing anything like that without one. She was such a brilliant person to have on set and it meant that those scenes became quite positive, actually really positive, for Paul and I.
“They’re so, so integral to the book and we wanted it to feel like we did them justice in the series because they say so much about their relationship and I think Ita just allowed us to concentrate more on the acting beats while she focused on the choreography, and also the safety of both of us, and our comfortableness in the scenes.”
First-time TV actor Paul agrees. He says not only does the experience for an actor suffer without the hiring of one, but the work suffers too.
“I’ve obviously got no experience of those [sex] scenes prior to it, so it’s something that I’m really grateful that I’ve encountered at the start of my career because I couldn’t imagine doing a job without it [an intimacy director] going forward.
“On a political level, I’d be saying that it should be necessary. I just can’t envisage a way for it to be possible [without one] and also I think the work would suffer both for actors and for audiences if intimacy co-ordinators weren’t involved. I think the work is better as a result of an intimacy co-ordinator, so it’s a big thumbs up from me.”
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