Game of Thrones actor Gemma Whelan refers to filming sex scenes as a ‘frenzied mess’

Gemma Whelan stars as Yara Greyjoy in HBO's Game of Thrones
Gemma Whelan stars as Yara Greyjoy in Game of Thrones. Pic credit: HBO

Let’s face it, many fans of HBO’s Game of Thrones first checked it out because everyone was talking about the gratuitous sex scenes. We all then stayed for the detailed plots and the riveting characters. (At least in the early seasons.)

Now, Gemma Whelan, who played Yara Greyjoy in the hit epic fantasy series, has revealed that those scenes were often not choreographed or staged until filming began.

‘When we shout action, go for it’

Whelan was involved in a few infamous scenes in Game of Thrones, most notably, the awkward scene on the back of a horse when Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) fondled her. He was the only person who didn’t know Yara was his sister at this point in Game of Thrones.

However, there were also other scenes involving Whelan that required nudity.

Usually, these days, intimacy directors are onboard during the filming of such romantic and sexual scenes.

Now, the actor suggests that things were a lot more casual during the filming of sex scenes when it came to the HBO series.

“They used to just say, ‘When we shout action, go for it!’, and it could be a sort of frenzied mess,” Whelan revealed during an interview with The Guardian.

At times, some directors would give hints about what they would like to see in the scene but, often, it was left up to the discretion of the actors involved.

Gemma Whelan as Yara Greyjoy, as seen in HBO's Game of Thrones
Gemma Whelan as Yara Greyjoy, as seen in Game of Thrones. Pic credit: HBO

Actors still checked in with each other, though

While it may have been a hot mess with little direction given by the director of the scene, Whelan did confirm that the actors involved usually discussed the upcoming intimate scene ahead of time in order to work things out.

“Between the actors, there was always an instinct to check in with each other,” Whelan confirmed. “There was a scene in a brothel with a woman and she was so exposed that we talked together about where the camera would be and what she was happy with.”

However, Whelan is happy that intimacy directors are now involved with these sorts of scenes.

“With intimacy directors, it’s choreography – you move there, I move there, and permission and consent is given before you start. It is a step in the right direction.”

As to whether or not intimacy directors will be involved in HBO’s spinoff series House of the Dragon remains to be seen as there has been little talk yet regarding just how much nudity will be involved in the prequel series. However, considering it is based on House Targaryen, many fans are expecting things to get heated when the series premieres next year.

All seasons of Game of Thrones are available on HBO Max. Season 1 of House of the Dragon will premiere on HBO in 2022.

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