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SAG-AFTRA adjusts intimacy coordinator confidentiality rules after Jenna Ortega movie

SAG-AFTRA is clarifying when intimacy coordinators are permitted to speak publicly about actors' work after an interview about the controversial new Jenna Ortega movie "Miller's Girl."

The actors union has adjusted its Standards and Protocols for the Use of Intimacy Coordinators, which SAG-AFTRA describes as liaisons between actors and production for nudity and intimate scenes. The protocols now state that an intimacy coordinator must maintain confidentiality of an actor's work and experience in performing such sensitive scenes, unless they have the actor's permission to share the information.

USA TODAY reached out to SAG-AFTRA for comment.

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News of the rule comes after the intimacy coordinator for the movie "Miller's Girl" recently gave an interview about the film to the Daily Mail. Directed by Jade Bartlett, the movie depicts the relationship between an 18-year-old student, played by Ortega, and her older teacher, played by Martin Freeman. At one point, it features an intimate scene between the two actors after Ortega's character writes a graphic short story about a sexual teacher-student encounter.

Jenna Ortega, left, and Martin Freeman during a screening of "Miller's Girl" at the Palm Springs International Film Festival on Jan. 11, 2024 in Palm Springs, California.
Jenna Ortega, left, and Martin Freeman during a screening of "Miller's Girl" at the Palm Springs International Film Festival on Jan. 11, 2024 in Palm Springs, California.

After the scene drew backlash due to the 31-year age gap between Ortega, 21, and Freeman, 52, intimacy coordinator Kristina Arjona told the Daily Mail that Ortega was fully comfortable with it.

"There was many, many people throughout this process, engaging with (Jenna) to make sure that it was consistent with what she was comfortable with, and she was very determined and very sure of what she wanted to do," Arjona said, adding, "I'm hyper aware of both of my talent and making sure that we're consistently checking in and that at no point are any of their boundaries being surpassed."

Arjona also talked about discussing the "level of nudity" with Ortega and Freeman and said the film had "different variations of how they wanted to shoot these scenes so that audiences could watch them at test screenings to see what was too much."

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SAG-AFTRA's latest guidelines state that the "public release of details about an actor's scene work or confidences entrusted to the intimacy coordinator without the performer's consent is unacceptable." According to Deadline, intimacy coordinators who fail to adhere to these rules could be removed from SAG-AFTRA's registry.

SAG-AFTRA released recommended standards and protocols for intimacy coordinators in 2020, which former SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris said would "help to normalize and encourage the use of intimacy coordinators in productions, therefore ensuring the safety and security of SAG-AFTRA members while they work." Among the recommendations were that the coordinators meet one-on-one with performers before the filming of an intimate scene and ensure consent throughout.

The agreement reached between SAG-AFTRA and the major studios last year to end the actors' strike stated that studios and production companies must take performers' requests for an intimacy coordinator under consideration, without retribution.

Contributing: Andrea Mandell, KiMi Robinson

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Jenna Ortega movie: SAG adjusts intimacy coordinator rules