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“A toxic environment” on the set of The Affair: the reasons for the departure of actress Ruth Wilson

In 2018, British actress Ruth Wilson had abruptly left the soap The Affair, of which she was the heroine, after four seasons. At the time, she had not explained her choice, simply inviting the media to investigate the working atmosphere on the set of this series broadcast in the United States on the cable channel Showtime.

In a long investigation published on December 18, Hollywood Reporter has gathered many testimonies from people linked to the departure of Ruth Wilson. The latter shed light on the reasons that led the actress to leave her role as Alison Lockhart, who won her a Golden Globe in 2015.

Too many nude scenes

Several accounts say that Ruth Wilson long wanted to stop The Affair because of the many nude scenes he was asked for and a “hostile work environment,” reports The Hollywood Reporter. The actress would indeed have been asked, on numerous occasions, to undress completely for scenes where nudity did not seem to be justified by any artistic or scriptural reason.

“Why do you need to see me and not him?” She would have asked, for example, referring to her male partners on the screen, who were asked less often to get naked. Ruth Wilson is said to have violently opposed on several occasions to the showrunneuse Sarah Treem on this subject, as tells a source of the American magazine.

“There was this problem since the beginning of the series to which Sarah Treem was deaf, on the fact of realizing the position in which she placed the actors”, she confides. “On several occasions, I saw Sarah Treem trying to comfort the actors so that they put themselves naked, even if they were not comfortable and that nothing obliged them contractually to do it” in their saying “You are very beautiful” or “Everyone is waiting for you”. “These are things that could have come out of a man's mouth in the 1950s (…) The environment was extremely toxic.”

Witnesses also say that the supervision of the shooting of the sex scenes was far from secure. People who were not working on the series were able to access the control monitors, allowing to view the scenes in question. Facts that Ruth Wilson could not denounce at the time of her departure, since she was subject to a confidentiality agreement.

The creator of The Affair defends

For its part, the showrunner of The Affair, who agreed to respond to Hollywood Reporter, denied the accusations.

“I would never say that to an actor. It's not me. I'm not a manipulator, I'm a feminist,” she said. (…) The very idea that I could create a dangerous work environment or that I could harass a woman is simply ridiculous and baseless, “assured Sarah Treem.

Ruth Wilson finally left the series after learning that Jeffrey Reiner, one of the producers of The Affair, would have asked the actress and creator of Girls, Lena Dunham to convince Ruth Wilson to agree to show her body more on the screen. Alison Lockhart's interpreter would have found a way to negotiate his departure here. His character was then killed.

This case once again highlights the need to use sex scene coordinators on film shoots, as several channels and platforms already do, such as HBO and Netflix. The goal: create a safe working atmosphere and ensure that all the scenes involving sexual acts and nudity are fully agreed by the actors.

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