(This post contains spoilers for House Of The Dragon season 1, episode 4. Proceed with caution!)
From the perspective of this non-actor, there are few aspects of showbiz that seem more uncomfortable than filming a sex scene—one of them, however, is definitely filming an incestuous one. In Game Of Thrones, familial sexual tension was all but par for the course, whether between Cersei and Jaime Lannister or Daenerys and Viserys Targaryen.
Now House Of The Dragon, HBO’s Targaryen-focused prequel to the series, is following in the same footsteps with (spoiler!) a romance between Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) and her uncle, Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith). In episode 4 of the series, Rhaenyra and Daemon share a kiss while in the midst of a brothel after venturing out into the city in disguises.
The kiss is weird, it’s wrong, and it’s an inherently Targaryen move (how else do they all stay so blonde?) But according to Alcock, filming a scene where Rhaenyra is decidedly unsafe still felt safe somehow. The actor credited two main things for this: her comfortable onset relationship with Smith and the support of an intimacy coordinator.
“[Smith and I] were just kind of mates. So, it was quite comfortable,” Alcock tells the New York Post. “We had an intimacy coordinator, and we worked with her through the rehearsal process and blocked it out months before.”
Although they choreographed the kiss for months in advance, Alcock also reveals that she and Smith hadn’t practiced with the active brothel around them—in fact, they hadn’t even laid eyes on the setup.
“Clare Kilner, our director, made sure that we hadn’t seen any of the brothel stuff until we were shooting,” said Alcock. “So, that was our first time walking through the brothel, and he’s guiding her through the room with all of these other bodies. So, that was quite shocking. You’re like, ‘This is kind of weird and silly.’”
She continues: “There were extras who we had just met who were like, 69-ing for 12 hours. It’s pretty gnarly. We felt pretty overdressed, because everyone else was nude.” Overdressed or under, it seems pretty clear from Alcock’s read: you’re never fully dressed without an intimacy coordinator, blocking, and a whole lot of friendly trust.