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Toni Collette: Intimacy Coordinators Are ‘There as a Safety Net’ but ‘Not Always a Necessity’

The star of HBO's "The Staircase" told IndieWire she sometimes feels intimacy coordinators are "encroaching upon the process."

The Staircase, Toni Collette, Colin Firth

“The Staircase”

screenshot/HBO Max

As one of the most virtuosic and respected actresses in Hollywood, Toni Collette has earned the right to speak her mind. From her iconic comedic debut in “Muriel’s Wedding” to her Oscar-nominated turn in “The Sixth Sense” to her hair-raising performance in “Hereditary,” it’s clear she knows how to navigate show business. And while she recognizes that many people and situations may require intimacy coordinators, she prefers to work unencumbered.

“I have to say, in a couple of scenes and different various jobs, I have been offered an intimacy coordinator,” Collette said during a recent interview with IndieWire. “But I have felt so connected and safe with my creative partners that the intimacy coordinator felt like they were encroaching upon the process, and I’ve denied them access to the actual scene because I didn’t feel like I needed them.”

Collette’s most recent project that hired an intimacy coordinator was HBO’s “The Staircase,” directed by prolific indie filmmaker and producer Antonio Campos. Collette starred opposite Colin Firth in the true crime drama, which featured many sex scenes, including one rather infamous rim job. Collette expressed a similar sentiment earlier this year, during an interview with Variety.

“They hired an intimacy coordinator — I didn’t want to talk to her, because I felt, between Antonio and Colin, completely safe. There was a lot of trust. And I knew the crew, and that was my team,” she said. “If I’d been with other people where I didn’t feel as comfortable, I probably would have welcomed her there. But I just I felt so secure in our world that I didn’t feel the need for her presence.”

Collette did not come up as a traditional Hollywood starlet; she rose to fame as a supporting character actress in highbrow genre films, period pieces, and romantic comedies. She’s worked with everyone from Bong Joon-ho to Catherine Hardwicke. She can currently be seen in the fluffy ensemble comedy “The Estate,” in which she plays a scheming niece angling for an inheritance. It’s possible that her versatility and discerning choices insulated her from taking on too many romantic roles that would require sex scenes.

“I’ve always tried to find stories that are more focused on self-love or different kinds of love,” she said. “It’s not always romantic love and being chosen. I’ve never been attracted to those kinds of scripts. So I guess maybe they just don’t really come my way that often anyway. I think I get to read some really interesting stuff and it’s not always that simple.”

There’s no doubt that Collette supports the progress being made in Hollywood for women, but for her, that includes having the choice of whether or not to use an intimacy coordinator. “It really is there as a safety net,” she said. “I’ve worked with some wonderful, wonderful people and I have felt so safe. So it’s not always a necessity, but it’s there if you need it.”

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