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Ruth Wilson quit The Affair over ‘pressure to perform gratuitous nude scenes’

Reason for actor’s sudden departure from Golden Globe-winning show was the subject of widespread speculation

Ellie Harrison
Thursday 19 December 2019 09:47
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Ruth Wilson quit The Affair after being “pressured” to perform “gratuitous” nude scenes, according to a new report,

The actor’s sudden departure from the show, for which she won a Golden Globe, had gone unexplained until The Hollywood Reporter interviewed “many of those involved in Wilson’s exit and the events that precipitated it”.

According to insiders, Wilson, who was restrained by an NDA, “had long wanted to leave the show because of ongoing frustrations with the nudity required of her” and “friction” with showrunner Sarah Treem.

After quitting The Affair in 2018, Wilson told The New York Times: “It isn’t about pay parity, and it wasn’t about other jobs, [but] I’m not really allowed to talk about it.”

She urged the reporter to contact Treem, adding: “There is a much bigger story.”

A source who was on set at the time told The Hollywood Reporter: “There was a culture problem at the show from the very beginning and a tone-deafness from Sarah Treem about recognising the position she was putting actors in.

“Over and over again, I witnessed [her] try to cajole actors to get naked even if they were uncomfortable or not contractually obligated to.”

According to this individual, actors were coaxed with phrases such as “Everyone is waiting for you” or “You look beautiful”.

They added: “It’s things you would think would be coming out of a man’s mouth from the 1950s. The environment was very toxic.”

“I was never witness to a conversation with Ruth that was, ‘I don’t want to do that just ’cause,’” said one insider of the discomfort Wilson. “It was, ‘This seems gratuitous,’ or, ‘I’m not comfortable in this scenario.’”

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Allegedly, one producer/director asked Girls star Lena Dunham to take Wilson out to dinner while the two shows were filming near one another, and persuade her to “show her tits, or at least some vag”. He reportedly then proceeded to “critique and crudely evaluate the bodies of all the women on his show”.

The report also claims that while filming the second season of The Affair, Wilson declined to shoot an aggressive sex scene that involved her being pushed up against a tree at a yoga retreat by her co-star Dominic West. “It was rapey,” a source said. “Ruth was very unamused by it.”

Treem denies ever pressuring performers. “I would never say those things to an actor,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “That’s not who I am. I am not a manipulative person, and I’ve always been a feminist.”

She added: “I have devoted my entire professional life to writing about and speaking to women’s issues, women’s causes, women’s empowerment and creating strong, complex roles for women in theatre and in Hollywood, on- and offscreen.

“It’s what I think about, what I care about, it’s what drives my life and work. The reason I even created The Affair was to illuminate how the female experience of moving through the world is so different from the male one, it’s like speaking a second language. The idea that I would ever cultivate an unsafe environment or harass a woman on one of my shows is utterly ridiculous and lacks a grounding in reality.”

The Independent has contacted Wilson’s representatives for comment.

Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke also recently revealed she was pressured to perform nude scenes.

“I’m a lot more savvy [now] with what I’m comfortable with, and what I am okay with doing,” she said. “I’ve had fights on set before where I’m like, ‘No, the sheet stays up’, and they’re like, ‘You don’t wanna disappoint your Game of Thrones fans’. And I’m like, ‘F*** you.’”

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