Apple Tree Yard: Emily Watson felt 'traumatised' by rape scene

'It was an incredibly hard day for everyone. We wanted to be very sudden and very real'

Clarisse Loughrey
Tuesday 24 January 2017 11:48

Emily Watson has admitted she "felt a bit traumatised" by a rape scene she filmed for the BBC's latest drama, Apple Tree Yard.

Based on the novel by Louise Doughty, it sees her character Yvonne Carmichael, a married research scientist, embark on a passionate affair with Mark Costley (Ben Chaplin). However, the first episode ended with a brutal rape scene at the hands of one of Yvonne's colleagues; with director Jessica Hobbs looking to actual testimonies from rape victims to help inform the scene, and making it seem as genuine as possible.

Watson told The Mirror that, although she was able to "zone out" during filming, the subsequent "mental impact I found harder"; specifically, when she really began to reflect on what her character had been through in that moment.

"It was an incredibly hard day for everyone. We wanted to be very sudden and very real. The people we spoke to described it as an out of body experience and so we tried to reflect that," she added.

Watson did, however, also praise the show in its representation of sexuality in older women; telling The Radio Times, "How great to be playing a woman who’s my age, and sexual, complicated, grown up, aware that female sexuality is a very powerful thing at this age."

"It’s a very different thing from being a sexualised being in your twenties – it’s a vibrant, creative, powerful thing, which isn’t necessarily about having affairs but just part of who you are. As you grow older, you really feel that this isn’t culturally acceptable or acknowledged in storytelling."

She also detailed the amount of care that went into the sex scenes between her character and Chaplin's; adding, "We’ve known each other a long time, and we didn’t want to fumble about, waiting for someone to shout ‘Cut!’, which usually happens. We plotted and planned every detail. We wanted it to be realistic – what would it be like in that situation, in a cupboard with a complete stranger? Which was great. I’d never laughed so much and it felt... empowering!"

Apple Tree Yard airs at 9pm on Sundays, on BBC One.

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