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Alicia Vikander Recalls Not Feeling Protected Filming Certain Nude Scenes

Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft in 2018's Tomb Raider
(Image credit: Warner Bros )

When it comes to an actor’s job, we often focus on the incredible aspects – such as getting to travel to incredible locations to play characters for a living, filming badass stunt scenes or being recognized by your work by your peers and moviegoers. Alicia Vikander can check off all those things off the list within her career thus far, but recently she got blunt about one aspect of the industry she has felt especially uncomfortable about: nudity and intimate scenes. 

Vikander, who has made waves as the entrancing lead of Ex Machina, our latest Lara Croft in 2018’s Tomb Raider and an actress who frequents other acclaimed movies like The Man From U.N.C.L.E and The Green Knight, shared with Harper’s Bazaar her feelings on shooting nude and sex scenes over the years. In her words:   

The only thing that can’t be improvised is an intimate scene – you have to make choreography and stick to it. It’s the worst thing ever to do those scenes. I am very comfortable with my body and I’ve done quite a bit of nudity and sex scenes, but it’s never easy. [Intimacy coaches] should have existed at the beginning of my career. I’ve been in situations that were not fine, where I didn’t feel I was protected. [On one occasion] everyone was busy doing their own thing and, in the middle, you have an actor who sits there naked for a couple of hours. And someone is supposed to arrive with a robe, and they don’t. It comes afterwards – that was not right. I should have been looked after.

Even for Alicia Vikander, who admits to totally owning being in her own skin on sets, she still calls shooting intimate scenes “the worst.” It sounds like it has to do a lot with the protocols on set, with productions having so many moving parts and not having outlined guidelines to protect the actor undressing and simulating sex in front of a busy cast and crew. 

Vikander recalled a moment when she felt she should have been “looked after” but wasn’t. We don’t know what movie she’s referring to, but as the actress shared, she has stripped down for a number of her films over the years including Ex Machina, The Danish Girl, Tulip Fever and Earthquake Bird

In recent years, there’s been an uptick in the use of intimacy coordinators on the set of movies and TV shows like Bridgerton where sex and nudity are part of the production. Intimacy coordinators make sure there is context to intimacy in a project, make sure communication takes place among the participants and avenues for reporting of harassment is put in place, along with making sure the scenes include consent, are performed according to previously agreed-upon choreography, per Intimacy Directors International.  

These pillars of safe intimacy were created officially only six years ago, meaning that prior to that many productions were exposed to having less sensitive nude and sex scenes occur on set. One example is the controversial scene in Basic Instinct, where Sharon Stone has since claimed that she was asked to remove her underwear for lighting purposes and assured her genitalia would not be captured, yet in the scene all was seen. The director has refuted her claims. If there had been an intimacy coordinator on set, the he said, she said of it likely wouldn’t still be a conversation. 

Alicia Vikander’s next project is a miniseries called Irma Vep, which will premiere at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival before becoming available to stream with an HBO Max subscription. Next, she’ll reportedly return to Lara Croft in a sequel for Tomb Raider, being written and directed by Lovecraft Country’s Misha Green. 

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