Outlander is known for its steamy intimacy scenes between stars Sam Heughan (Jamie Fraser) and Caitriona Balfe (Claire Fraser). But according to Heughan, they were “thrown into the deep end” when it came to filming those scenes during the first season.
Now that Heughan and Balfe are both producers on the Starz series, they decided to bring in an intimacy coordinator for guidance. But that doesn’t mean fans will see less explicit scenes in season 6.
Intimacy Coordinators weren’t ‘commonplace’ when ‘Outlander’ began
It’s been nearly a decade since Heughan and Balfe landed the roles of Jamie and Claire in the time-traveling drama. And during that time, a lot of things have changed on the Outlander set due to the #MeToo movement in the industry. One of the most notable is the addition of intimacy coordinators to help actors navigate explicit scenes that involve nudity and intimacy.
“Those things just weren’t available,” Balfe told Entertainment Weekly, in reference to intimacy coordinators during Outlander season 1. “Or if it was available, it just wasn’t commonplace.”
Heughan and Balfe’s contracts expired ahead of season five, which led to each actor negotiating a new deal. Both Outlander stars negotiated to become producers of the series, which allowed Heughan to bring in Intimacy Coordinator Vanessa Coffey. He explained that her presence was needed on set, just like a fight choreographer, so the actors can do their job properly.
“With fight scenes, you have a fight director. You choreograph it, you know exactly what’s going to happen, and then, it allows the actor to then explore and to do their job — to act,” Heughan explained.
Sam Heughan says it was ‘helpful’ to have Vanessa Coffey on set
Heughan promised that Jamie and Claire still have a lot of sex in season 6. But the way they shot those scenes changed with Coffey on set. He told the Radio Times that he and Balfe have “obviously developed an amazing relationship and feel very comfortable with each other.” But, it’s also important that others feel comfortable, too.
“We have a lot of sex; it’s part of Jamie and Claire’s relationship, the thing that binds them and the way they find their way back to each other. [Vanessa] gave us tools to try and show that intimacy. It was helpful to have someone there to help us navigate it as it can be quite awkward,” Heughan revealed.
Heughan explained that working with Coffey made him realize “how much we were thrown into the deep end” during Outlander’s very first season. He said there was “a lot of pressure” on less experienced actors like himself to “get it right.”
“Each year as it went past or each season, I felt the pressure. It landed on us,” Heughan admitted. “[Vanessa] has given us the tools to explore those scenes, to take out the actor and take us out of it and approach it through a character way.”
‘Outlander’ star Caitriona Balfe says it was ‘amazing’ to have an intimacy coordinator for season 6
Balfe added that she and Heughan had been put in a position where they were deciding what was going to be in the scenes. While constantly negotiating with the director and producers over what was shown and what the actors felt comfortable with.
Balfe says she was grateful to have Coffey on set in season 6, especially because she was filming sex scenes while pregnant.
“She’s able to come in and really use language that neutralizes it for everybody. She liaisons between us and the producers or the director as to what’s going to be acceptable for everybody” Balfe explained.
“Especially this season, I was pregnant, and it was very vulnerable for me to put myself in those situations. It was not the easiest, and to have her there advocating and to be a support was amazing.”
New episodes of Outlander air Sunday nights on Starz.