When OutlanderMarsali gave birth during Sunday’s episode, her husband Fergus not the only coach at hand.
Vanessa Coffey, an intimate coordinator that the Starz series brought into this season, was deeply involved in how the historical drama approached and shot the highly emotional physical exposure.
Star Lauren Lyle told TVLine that avid readers of Diana Gabaldon’s books, based on the show, made her aware of the pivotal moment years ago, shortly after she was cast in the series. In episode 2, Lyle’s Marsali character is slowly evolving, becoming increasingly unsettling when her husband Fergus helps with things by kissing and stroking her bare breasts. The camera leaves the room before his missions go further and then finally works; Marsali gives birth to a baby boy, Henri-Christian, at the end of the episode. (Read the full synopsis.)
“Thank goodness everything is fake,” Lyle said with a laugh. “So that’s lovely and very helpful.” Even more important, she added, was that Coffey was involved in the proceedings. “We had fun conversations and figured out why that was happening and what we wanted to do about it. So we worked out, and it was amazing.”
Cesar Domboy, who plays Fergus, said. “It was almost like a choreography at some point, because Lauren and I would really hit each beat, like, ‘OK, should we do this? Should I move there? ‘ Because you have to have an aesthetic at some point, and to sell something like that, it has to be viewable… We found our rhythm.”
On Monday, TVLine spoke in-depth with Coffey about working with Lyle, Domboy and the show’s production staff to make the scene work for everyone involved.
TV | Correct me if I’m wrong, but the intimacy coordinator is basically someone on set who acts as the liaison between the actors and the production, making sure everyone is comfortable with what’s going on and is just concerned with the logistics and practicality of putting a scene like this together. Did I misunderstand something?
You don’t misunderstand any part, but there are some more things to do, that is research into the scene itself, the nature of the scene, especially for things like this because it’s very specific. , with what will happen. required to wear at birth. And it was around the same time, so just research on that and its choreography as well. Where are the arms, where are the limbs, exactly where it should be so that we can appropriately tell the story through the body.
TV | You’ll be on this show in Season 6 – talk to me about how you’d be in a situation where a show like this did a lot of intimate scenes along the way.
This is the first time I’ve worked on a program that didn’t have an intimate moderator in the first place, where I wasn’t there in the first place. So it’s a different environment to step into. I have to say, in this particular case – and I promise you I’m not just saying this – they were incredibly welcoming, both from the cast and crew, who really welcomed the role. and really care about what the role can add. It’s about protection, sure, but that’s okay, what could this role really add to the storytelling of these moments? What else can we do in Season 6 that we may not have seen before? And diving into some of those will probably be the most important.
TV | Guided me through the birthing scene, from seeing it for the first time in the script to getting ready with César and Lauren, to the actual shoot.
It starts, you’re absolutely right, with script reading. See in detail what is in it, what can we draw, what physical actions have been described in the rooms of the writers they want to see. And then it was a matter of talking to the next executive producers to find out their vision for the crown. more than what’s on the page, really. There may be many things they want to draw out. So after having those conversations, then chat with the director about their artistic vision for the shot and how we’re going to bring that to life, collaboratively and then chat. Talk to each of the original actors to say “OK, these are the parameters of the scene that have been established so far. What are your thoughts?” It sounds really obvious, but ask some really interesting, open-ended questions from the actors to make sure you’re getting as much information as possible from them. about any concerns they have.
Also delve into things like what surname also want to draw in the scene. Anything I need to know before we start choreographing the scene. And once you have individual conversations with each of the other actors, to provide anything back to the director and producer that they need to know. And then the next step was to get in and do a physical rehearsal and in this case – and the arts department was absolutely amazing at it. Outlander because we set up a rehearsal space that was basically equivalent to what we would have on set, because they used the set that day. It’s great because you’re actually working with all the props, whatever you might need to bring that scene to life, you’ve got it in place. Actually, that’s really helpful, because one of the things that I don’t think about is the fact that in this case, there’s a wooden hand that we’re handling in the choreography. So that’s like, OK, we need to change things, because you won’t be able to rely on a hand you can’t rely on. So there are realities in choreography that we have to consider.
TV | Lauren mentioned that she was wearing a prosthetic leg in the scene. Do you have it to use in rehearsal or was it added later?
We have a dummy belly ready for our rehearsal, yes.
TV | I apologize for clarifying this, but does the dummy belly include the breasts and pacifiers we saw on the show?
I’m not sure what the rules are about prosthetics. I was really excited when Lauren mentioned that she was wearing a fake belly. I’m not sure about… [Checks in with a Starz rep who is on the call]
TV | My conversation with her and César was about “this is a weird position for friends/colleagues, Vanessa helped us through that, I’m wearing a prosthetic leg”. It’s the tone. She doesn’t say “That’s not my boob,” but she’s basically saying “That’s not my boob.”
[Laughs] As long as the actor feels comfortable sharing that information with you, that’s totally fine. So yes, we’ve got a fake breast in place. It’s also because apparently with Lauren’s breasts, her breasts aren’t going to look pregnant the way Marsali does. Nipples change quite a bit when you’re pregnant, especially in that state of pregnancy. So again we have to be true to what you will actually see at the time. So yes, we are actually working with a prosthetic.
TV | I always thought that actors could do such scenes with people who were their colleagues and friends. It is very raw and vulnerable.
You’re absolutely right, which is why there’s such a big deal to do around separating actors from characters. Because actors of course have their boundaries, and we need to be honest with those in order to tell the story for the character… If we train actors, we talk to actors about how characters walk, the way they sit, the way they stand, the way they breathe in different weather, all that sort of thing. But we very rarely talk to actors about how characters have sex or how characters kiss. So in those moments, actors will often go back to what they did personally. And it’s a very vulnerable place. But when we approach it through the character, it’s a lot less vulnerable.
TV | I remember Lauren saying that the actors didn’t want to sound like they would in that situation in real life. You want that division, as you said.
Exactly, immediately thinking about the sound of the character when they have orgasm or the sound of the character when they make love has to be completely different from the way the actors do.
TV | Caitriona Balfe has talked about being pregnant and doing sex scenes as a new hole for her this season. Can you talk to me about a time when you had someone pregnant, what conversations are coming up, or some of the things that arise that you might not have with an actress who isn’t pregnant?
The conversations are pretty much the same, then it comes down to what we do in the room to make sure someone is comfortable, whether it’s through choreography, checking position, making sure someone feels comfortable. physically okay. For example, if they want to watch the replay, they can watch it and see what the angle looks like and if they feel comfortable with what’s being shown… I wouldn’t necessarily say that Caitriona asked for it. playback, but definitely different actors I’ve worked with pregnant asked for it, because you want to be able to see what the camera is seeing.
It’s also about looking after the actors afterwards, because part of the work that I didn’t mention to you earlier that I should have mentioned was also about checking in with the actors a few days after we shot. a scene, just to see how they feel about it. I’m a huge fan of Brené Brown, and she talks about something called the “shame hangover,” which can show up two to three days after you’ve done something. You know, that horrible feeling if you’re walking down the street and you suddenly say, “Oh my god, I can’t believe I did that a few days ago.” We want to make sure that, with an intimate scene, someone feels really supported and really comfortable and confident about what they’ve done, especially if they’re in a vulnerable place.
https://tvline.com/2022/03/14/outlander-marsali-fergus-birth-scene-season-6-episode-2-nipple-intimacy-coordinator/ ‘Outlander’ Intimate Coordinator of the Birth of Fergus and Marsali