“I think two of my top scenes would be my scenes with Alfie Allen [Theon Greyjoy],” Game of Thrones’ Esme Bianco, who played entrepreneurial sex worker Ros, told Refinery29 on the season 8 premiere red carpet last night. “We had a scene together in Winterfell and then we had a great scene together on the back of the turnip cart.”
Fans without a photographic memory may not realize Bianco is talking about two moments (from the first season in 2011) featuring full-frontal nudity, explicit sex, or both. A few episodes after Ros' two Theon romps, she would take part in a sorta-threesome that would inspire the term “sexposition.” During the hookup, Ros pleasures another sex worker (Sahara Knite) as brothel owner Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish (Aidan Gillen) monologues his evil master plan over the women’s increasingly load moans.
Over half a decade after that now-iconic sex scene, the actress has come out as a domestic abuse survivor and is working as a sexual assault advocate. The revelation puts Ros’ journey in a completely new light — and Bianco is ready to talk through it.
“I was just chatting with someone about the fact that I think because of my experience, some things other people might have struggled with were sort of normalized to a certain extent,” Bianco said, using “things” as a euphemism for the series' many intense nude moments. “My trauma clouded over them and made them actually more palatable for me, which in retrospect, it worries me a little bit.”
Still, the actress' history as a survivor hasn't taken away her appreciation for Thrones. “I don’t have any regrets about any of the scenes that I did. I feel very comfortable with what I did, and I was treated with respect the entire time,” Bianco continued during GoT's New York event. “But I do worry about young actresses who come into this business and may be coming in with their own baggage and not necessarily dealing with the scenes in the healthiest way for their mental health.”
Time will tell if television’s latest attempts to curb harassment — including the intimacy coordinators Bianco is “so glad” to see on HBO sets now — will actually move the industry forward.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).