‘The Deuce’ Star Emily Meade Is Helping Actors Feel More Comfortable When Filming Intimate Scenes

Emily Meade
Emily Meade HBO

Getting the job done! Actress Emily Meade, who plays Lori on The Deuce, is not only grabbing attention on the screen, but behind the scenes too. The 29-year-old has been in the industry since she was a young girl, is opening up about feeling uncomfortable throughout her career.

To help other actors from feeling this same way and change things for herself going forward, Meade sat down with Alicia Rodis, the drama’s intimacy coordinator, to talk about how to make filming intimate scenes a more comfortable experience.

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The Deuce
The Deuce HBO

Meade said in her interview on HBO.com, “I’m somebody who has played really sexualized characters my whole career. I did my first sex scene at 16, in the first film I ever did. And there are many times I’ve felt uncomfortable, whether I’ve realized it in the moment or looking back retroactively. There was no specific incident or anything outside of what I’ve been used to for the past 13 years. The only thing that makes The Deuce different is the story itself is about sex, and sex scenes are an integral part of the story. And because it’s a series there are more of them.”

To combat any uncomfortable feelings while filming, Meade thought there should be guidelines set in place. “I started thinking about how when you’re doing a stunt of any kind, even as simple as crossing the street with cars, or if there’s a child or animal on set, there are people who legally have to be there to protect and facilitate, people who have expertise. And yet when it comes to sexuality, which is one of the most vulnerable things for all humans — men and women — there’s really no system. There’s never been a person required to be there to protect and bring expertise. I went directly to the creators, David [Simon] and George [Pelecanos], and HBO and told them I’d feel much more comfortable if there was some sort of advocate purely for the sexual scenes — especially on a show where not just my character, but everybody on the show, has so much sex.“

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And everyone got on board. HBO hired Rodlis immediately, and it has set a new tone for the actors when they are filming intimate scenes.
“She [Alicia] comes to me and tells me what the director is asking for, and I can tell her what, if anything, might make me uncomfortable. Then she goes back to the director and we can all discuss,” Meade told HBO.com “To even have 5 or 10 minutes or a whole day to process it before responding is really helpful,” she continued.

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“I think at first a lot of the actors were nervous she’d come in and wipe away all of the sexuality, but that’s not it at all. She’s not taking over the scene, or telling anybody to make it more PG than it is,” she noted. And Meade says it just helps her to know that she has extra support. “You know there’s somebody making sure lines don’t get crossed so you don’t have be worried about it while naked and performing.”

And Meade’s thoughts on if the industry will see more intimacy coordinators on sets? “We’d better! It’s just mind boggling to me I’ve never been on set with an intimacy coordinator before; it felt so natural and so necessary,” she told HBO.com. “It’s crazy it took to 2018 for sexuality to be treated with the same sensitivity and vulnerability as violence, or animals or children. I hope it gets to a point where it’s not a choice, it’s necessity, just like stunt coordinators, or a chaperone for children and animals.”

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