Outlander’s intimacy co-ordinator gives insight into working on season six of hit Starz show

In a recent interview, Sam Heughan revealed that Outlander bosses hired an intimacy coordinator for the sixth season.

Vanessa Coffey joined the Outlander team, but has worked on many impressive projects like Billie Piper’s I Hate Suzie, ITV’s No Return and BBC’s Rules of The Game.

Sam, 41, made the revelation that an intimacy coordinator had joined the Starz show during a recent appearance on the Drew Barrymore Show.

The Dumfries born actor told Drew: “An intimacy advisor is kind of a more common practice now in the industry, when we started, we were totally green. You know, in your career, you’ve had to do similar stuff.

Outlander intimacy coordinator Vanessa Coffey
Outlander intimacy coordinator Vanessa Coffey

“As an actor or actress, you’re kind of just thrown in the deep end.

“And we were, and we sort of found our way through it together, and we’ve supported each other through it.

“But actually bringing someone on board means we’re all more supported.

“We can find new ways to, I guess, be more intimate and to add more to those scenes. So I think it’s a really welcome addition… Let’s just all get an intimacy advisor, right?”

“I fell into it in quite a weird way,” Vanessa told Digital Spy. “I worked as a lawyer in corporate law, and before that, I trained as a dancer.

Sam Heughan and Catriona Balfe in Outlander season six
Sam Heughan and Catriona Balfe in Outlander season six

“After law, I went and retrained as an actor, so I had these three seemingly unrelated things that were floating around.

“Then because of my work at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, which is also where Sam Heughan studied, I started putting things in place for actors who were coming to me saying “Can we have a conversation about my nudity rider, or my contract?” “What sorts of things can I put in place to make sure I am safe?” or “What kind of choreography can I look at to make sure this scene is exactly what I want it to be?”

An intimacy coordinators job is to choreograph a love scene, plan the level of nudity an actor is comfortable with and even working with costume departments on garments to protect an actor’s modesty or prosthetics.

Vanessa added: “I think the thing that would surprise people is the level of choreography that is involved in the role, there is a lot of movement background to it.

“People sometimes come at this thinking this is just an agreement [between actors and directors], that it is about having open conversations, and of course it is about that, but there is a lot more to the role than that.

“It is very specific and we come in with a host of movement tools that will really help the actors and support them in helping them make that distinction between character and actor.

Sam and Caitriona already previously worked together without an intimacy co-ordinator on Outlander for five seasons, Vanessa added: “There is a lot of trust between Sam and Caitriona already and he has talked about that a lot in interviews, that they had already built up this very physical trust, and relationship between them.

“What I would hope is that by having an intimacy coordinator, when we are able to talk through those scenes we are talking really specifically about the detail of the scene, about the choreography of it, exactly what is going to be happening and why, rather than leaving anything open to the actors in the moment.

“It is all pre-planned and arranged, and then because they’re brilliant actors they put tension behind of all that, just as they would with a fight scene.”

Outlander season 6 is now streaming on STARZPLAY in the UK and STARZ in the US.

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