Emily Carey, AKA Alicent Hightower, has opened up about how “scared” she was to film *that* uncomfortable sex scene in House of the Dragon — and how important having an intimacy coordinator was for her.
Episode four of House of the Dragon was all about different women’s relationships with sex. For some in the Game of Thrones universe, it’s fun and hot and passionate. For others who are trapped in political marriages they never wanted to be in, it’s a chore at best, sexual assault at worst.
This week, we saw 17-year-old Targaryen princess Rhaenyra (Millie Alcock) finally do it with her hot knight bestie and it was steamy AF, minus the scene earlier where she nearly railed her uncle. No thank you. Erasing that from my memory.
However, it was impossible to fully enjoy her newfound sexual empowerment during her tryst with Ser Cole (Fabian Frankle) because it was contrasted with a scene of her ex-BFF and Queen Alicent Hightower laying flat on her back, disassociating as she passively laid there while her pestilent, withering corpse of a husband used her to please himself.
The parallel between Alicent in the marital bed and Rhaenyra exploring her desires during the episode made me feel even sadder for Alicent. She is stuck in the role of the Queen and terribly alone. #hotd #houseofthedragon pic.twitter.com/ZZUEx7vJnX— House of the Dragon (@GameOfDaily) September 12, 2022
Yeah, that was fucking awful. Confronting even. It wasn’t supposed to be a rape scene but it certainly felt like one. And that’s why Emily Carey, who is only 19 years old IRL, is so relieved she had an intimacy coordinator to support her through it.
“We have an intimacy coordinator who was amazing,” Carey said in an interview with Newsweek.
“Again, still being 17, the first scene that I read from the show was my sex scene and my intimacy scenes, that includes the scene where I’m bathing the king—anything that felt intimate was considered an intimacy scene, which I thought was great.
“But, it scared me, because at that point I still hadn’t met Paddy [Considine] (who plays her character’s much older husband), I didn’t know how much of a joy he was and how easy he was going to make [the scene], and all I saw was, you know, a 47-year-old man and me, I was a bit concerned.
“And having that outlet of the intimacy coordinator, to be able to talk everything through and not be shunned, or not feel awkward, or not feel like ‘Oh, this isn’t your job. I don’t want to make you feel uncomfortable but can I ask you…’ it was never any of that, it was just that open dialogue.
“In the rehearsal room she was a massive help and on set she was a massive help. Yeah, it was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be.”
Emily Carey also revealed she hadn’t watched Game of Thrones prior to being cast as Alicent, so when she sat down and did her homework, she was confronted by how it treated its women characters.
“I think I was still 17 when I started this job, I was 18 by the time we started shooting but there was a few months of me in this role as a 17-year-old,” she said.
“I’ve never seen Game of Thrones before, and so in the pre-production period I sat down to try and watch [it] and of course the first season, even just the first episode of Thrones, there’s a lot of violence upon women.
“There’s a lot of violent sex and it made me nervous. I was like, ‘Oh God, what am I gonna have to do in this show?'”
Thankfully, nothing she didn’t feel comfortable doing. Someone call up Sean Bean and make him read Carey’s interview so he can retract his rancid take on intimacy coordinators, who are clearly imperative for young female stars in roles like these. And for everyone else, too.