Outlander Intimacy Coordinator Vanessa Coffey, Stars Lauren Lyle and César Domboy Take Us From Script to Screen on That Revealing Birth Scene

When Outlander's Marsali gave birth in Sunday's episode, her husband Fergus wasn't the only coach on hand.

Vanessa Coffey, an intimacy coordinator the Starz series brought on board this season, was deeply involved in the way the historical drama approached and shot the highly emotional, physically revealing scene.

Star Lauren Lyle tells TVLine that ardent readers of Diana Gabaldon's books, on which the show is based, had made her aware of the big moment years ago, soon after she landed the part. In Episode 2, Lyle's character Marsali is in slowly progressing, increasingly worrisome labor when her husband Fergus helps things along by kissing and caressing her bare breast. The camera leaves the room before his ministrations go farther and then ultimately work; Marsali delivers a baby boy, Henri-Christian, by the end of the episode. (Read a full recap.)

"The godsend is that everything is prosthetic," Lyle says, laughing. "So that's lovely and very helpful." Even more important, she adds, was Coffey's part in the proceedings. "We had good conversations and figured out why is it that that's happening and what we wanted to do with it. So we worked it out, and it was great."

César Domboy, who plays Fergus, chimes in. "It's almost like a choreography at some point, because it's me and Lauren literally going beat after beat, like, 'OK, should we do this? Should I move there?' Because you have to be aesthetic at some point, and to sell something like that, it has to be watchable… We found our rhythm."

On Monday, TVLine spoke in depth with Coffey about teaming up with Lyle, Domboy and the show's production staff to make the scene work for everyone involved.

TVLINE | Correct me if I'm wrong, but an intimacy coordinator is basically someone who's on set, acting as a liaison between the actors and production, making sure everyone's comfortable with what's happening and just kind of being concerned with the logistics and the practicalities of putting a scene like this together. Did I get any part of that wrong? You didn't get any part of that wrong, but there are a few more things to it, which is to research the scene itself, the nature of the scene, particularly for something like this because it was so specific, with what would be required to bring on birth. And also for the time period as well so just doing research on that and also the choreography element of it as well. Where are arms, where are limbs going, exactly what the placement is going to look like so we can tell the story appropriately through the body.

TVLINE | You're coming into this show in Season 6 — talk to me about coming into a situation where a show like this already has done a ton of intimate scenes in its run. It's the first time that I"ve worked on a show that hasn't had an intimacy coordinator from the start, where I haven't been there from the start. So it is a different environment to come into. I have to say, in this particular case — and I promise you I'm not just saying this — they've been extremely welcoming, both from cast and from crew who really welcomed the role and were really interested in what the role could add. It's about protection, sure, but it's also about OK what can this role actually add to the storytelling of these moments as well? What could we do differently in Season 6 that we maybe haven't looked at before? And going into depth on some of that would probably be the biggest thing.

TVLINE | Walk me through the birth scene, from seeing it the first time in the script to prepping with César and Lauren, on to the actual shooting.It starts, absolutely you're right, with reading the script. Seeing what the detail is in there, what we can draw out already, what are the physical actions that have already been described by the writers' room that they want to see. And then it's a matter of speaking with the executive producers next to find out what their vision is for the scenet o make sure that again, we're being true to what they're trying to say for that particular scene, because it might be more than what's on the page, actually. There might be more things they want to draw out. So after having those conversations, then having a conversation with the director about their artistic vision for the scene and how we're going to bring that to life, collaboratively, and then having conversations with the actors individually at first to say "OK, these are the parameters of the scene that have been set out so far. What are your thoughts on that?" It sounds really obvious, but asking some really nice, open questions of the actors to make sure you're eliciting as much information from them as possible about any concerns they've got.

Also going into things like what they want to draw out in the scene, too. Anything I need to be aware of before we go into choreographing the scene. And once you have those chats individually with each other actors, to feed anything back to the director and to production that they need to know. And then the next step is getting in and doing a physical rehearsal and in this case — and the art department are absolutely fantastic on Outlander because the set up a rehearsal space for us that was essentially the equivalent of what we would have on set, because they were using the set that day. It was fabulous because you actually are working with all of the props, anything you might need in order to bring that scene to life, you've got it in place. Actually, that was really helpful, because one of the things that I hadn't brought my mind to was the fact that in this case, there is also a wooden hand that we're dealing with in the choreography. So that was like, OK, we need to change things, because you won't have you leaning on a hand you couldn't possibly be leaning on. So there were practicalities in the choregraphy that we had to consider.

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