Jennifer Aniston sparks backlash with 'disrespectful', 'flippant' attitude towards intimacy coordinators on set

Jennifer Aniston.
Jennifer Aniston is under fire for recent comments about intimacy coordinators. Photo credit: Getty Images

Jennifer Aniston, widely regarded as one of the more likable celebs in Tinseltown, is currently under fire for her "flippant" and "disrespectful" comments about intimacy coordinators, a role that has become increasingly important in post-#MeToo Hollywood. 

During a new interview with Variety alongside Reese Witherspoon, the 54-year-old reflected on filming sex scenes with her co-star, Jon Hamm, for the third season of The Morning Show - the first time in her career she had performed a scene of that nature. 

Speaking to the magazine, Aniston noted that Hamm - her friend of over 12 years - had been incredibly supportive and made an effort to check in with her during filming.  

"I never felt uncomfortable," she said. "Jon was such a gentleman, always - I mean every move, every cut, 'You OK?' It was also very choreographed."

She revealed she and Hamm had opted not to have an intimacy coordinator present while filming, instead crediting director Mimi Leder for helping her feel "protected". 

For context, an intimacy coordinator liaises between actors and the production team to ensure everyone is comfortable and advocated for during "nude, simulated sex or other intimate and hyper-exposed scenes", according to the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA).   

As well as supporting the cast and crew, the coordinator will also often assist with choreographing the scenes to ensure the stars feel safe throughout the performance. 

While production teams are not legally required to have an intimacy coordinator on set, the role has become more commonplace in the wake of the Me Too movement; certain broadcasters, like HBO, have since made it mandatory for shows that simulate sex or nudity to have a coordinator present.   

In the interview, Aniston said she and Hamm were offered a coordinator but ultimately refused, with the Friends alum implying that "seasoned" actors from "the olden days" of Hollywood didn't need the support or guidance.    

"They asked us if we wanted an intimacy coordinator. I'm from the olden days, so I was like, 'What does that mean?'" she said.   

"They said, 'Where someone asks you if you're OK', and I'm like, 'Please, this is awkward enough'.   

"We're seasoned - we can figure this one out," she added. "And we had Mimi [Leder] there."

Since the interview was published on Monday, Aniston's quotes have continued to attract negative feedback from commentators online, with several claiming the actor had "minimised" the work of intimacy coordinators and their important role in the industry.   

"'Where someone asks if you're okay' is such a minimizing and disrespectful description of what an intimacy coordinator actually does," one person wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.   

Others accused the actor of having a "flippant" attitude that diminished the impact intimate scenes can have on actors, particularly those who are fledgling stars or just starting out in the industry.   

"Having seen firsthand the kind of work an intimacy coordinator actually does, it actually deflates the awkwardness and helps actors build boundaries and trust with one another," another wrote. "If it's not for her that's fine, but it's legitimate work that can be effective for performance."   

"An intimacy coordinator basically [choreographs] the intimacy and takes into account the actors' boundaries," another added. "Saying 'someone who asks if you are okay' is not only [dismissive], but also completely wrong."   

Others argued that in today's climate, intimacy coordinators should be "a requirement, not an option".   

"I feel like everyone is missing that intimacy coordinators aren't just there for the comfort of the actors. It's everyone on set," one argued, adding: "I'm glad she was comfortable without an intimacy coordinator but there are other people involved who should also be comfortable in their workplace."

Aniston's reference to the "olden days" also came under scrutiny, with commentators noting that the "olden days" in question are the reason for new precautions and safety measures - in a bid to avoid the predatory and problematic behaviour that marred the industry for so long.    

The Morning Show itself draws on themes of the Me Too movement, examining the characters and toxic culture that can lurk behind the cameras of broadcast television. After allegations of sexual misconduct, the male co-anchor of the fictional programme featured in the show is forced off-air.

"The irony of playing the role [of a] talk show host who ignored her cohosts sexually predatory behavior not getting why an intimacy coordinator should be encouraged by and how it empowers actors without her clout," one wrote in reference to The Morning Show's premise. 

Others defended Aniston, with one tweeting: "Watching people flip out over #JenniferAniston say she and Jon Hamm didn't need an intimacy coordinator cracks me up. Do you all have nothing better to do? And who cares?"

In the interview, co-star Witherspoon reflected on the series' ability to showcase the realities of the industry through a fictional lens, telling Variety the show "mirrors a lot of what's going on in the world".   

"It's creating adult conversations about issues that we're dealing with every day in real time in our workplace environments and in our personal lives, so it helps us process," she said.