Ruth Wilson has said there was a time on steamy Showtime series, The Affair, where things ‘didn’t feel right’ but she ‘managed to protect herself’.
It was claimed in 2019 that the actress’, 38, who earned a Golden Globe for her role as Alison Lockhart, abrupt exit was due to her concerns over the amount of gratuitous sex scenes.
It was also alleged that a ‘toxic’ on set environment saw industry standards about sex scenes ignored, pressured actors to perform nude scenes and then tried to dismiss the issues when complaints arose. Co-creator, Sarah Treem, has denied the claims.
Speaking out: Ruth Wilson has said there was a time on steamy Showtime series, The Affair, where things ‘didn’t feel right’ but she ‘managed to protect herself’ (pictured in 2019)
Talking in a new interview with Stylist magazine, Ruth admitted that she hasn’t ‘worked out’ how to discuss her time or abrupt exit from The Affair.
The actress also claimed that it was ‘important’ for people to know that she did ‘speak up’ and ‘protect’ herself.
Ruth told the publication: ‘The reason I haven’t gone into The Affair is that I haven’t worked out how to discuss it. There’s a lot of noise and anger surrounding it, and really the power rests with me to choose how I discuss my life and my experiences.
‘What’s important to say is that I did speak up. I did have a voice. I did stand up for myself. There was a situation on The Affair where things didn’t feel right, and I dealt with them, and I managed to protect myself.’
Concerns: It was claimed in 2019 that the actress’, 38, who earned a Golden Globe for her role as Alison Lockhart, abrupt exit was due to her concerns over the amount of gratuitous sex scenes (pictured with co-star Dominic West)
She added: ‘It was before #MeToo and before Harvey Weinstein – and yet my instincts were very clear and strong about what I felt was wrong, about what was going on, and what I didn’t feel safe about.’
MailOnline has contacted showrunner Sarah Treem and Showtime network for comment.
In December 2019, showrunner and co-creator Sarah Treem defended herself against accusations that she created a hostile work environment which led to Ruth’s departure.
Treem acknowledged that she had disagreements with the 38-year-old English actress, who shocked the entertainment world when she announced her abrupt departure from the show in the summer of 2018.
While Ruth was allegedly said to be prevented from commenting on the circumstances of her exit due to a ‘nondisclosure agreement’.
Concerns: It was also alleged that a ‘toxic’ on set environment saw industry standards about sex scenes ignored to which co-creator, Sarah Treem, denied (Ruth and co-star Dominic pictured in show still)
The Golden Globe-winning actress reportedly refused to perform one shocking aggressive sex scene where her character was forced up against a tree at a yoga retreat after saying it was ‘rapey’, meaning a body-double had to be called in, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
On set she also allegedly complained about the disparity between how often male and female characters were expected to be naked, saying ‘why do you need to see me and not more of him?’
While performing sex scenes, insiders also alleged there were ‘people there who didn’t need to be’ and that monitors were ‘in plain view’ during the performance.
According to THR, Treem was said to have told Wilson ‘everyone is waiting for you’ and ‘you look beautiful’ in an attempt to get them on set while naked for the scenes.
Hitting back: In December 2019, showrunner and co-creator Sarah Treem defended herself against accusations that she created a hostile work environment which led to Ruth’s departure (pictured in 2018)
Though Ruth knew that nudity would be involved when she signed onto the project, she is said to have been bothered by ‘frequency and nature of certain nude scenes’ which she deemed to have little purpose other than to be ‘titillating.’
While THR also claimed that when the actress expressed her concerns, she was ignored and labelled ‘difficult’.
A spokesman for SAG-AFTRA told THR that industry standards still demand talent must ‘provide meaningful consent and be treated with respect and dignity during production,’ a standard which The Affair may have failed to achieve.
Co-creator Treem denied that she used manipulative means to get the actors to do more nude scenes than were necessary.
She told THR: ‘I would never say those things to an actor. That’s not who I am. I am not a manipulative person, and I’ve always been a feminist.’
Treem 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.
‘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.’
In a lengthy rebuttal she posted on Deadline, Treem wrote that the frequency of the nude scenes were required due to the ‘Rashomon-style’ narrative device that told the same story twice, though each time from the differing perspectives of the show’s characters.
Treem acknowledged that she had numerous disagreements with Wilson over several nude scenes, including the one in which she and her character’s married lover, Noah, who was played by Dominic West, have ‘aggressive’ sex against a tree.
Noah is married to Helen, played in the series by Maura Tierney. He has an affair with Wilson’s character, Alison, and ends up ruining his marriage.
In 2014, around the time of the show’s first season, Ruth told the Mail On Sunday that filming multiple nude scenes had ‘put me off sex for life.’
Cast: Treem acknowledged that she had disagreements with the 38-year-old English actress, who shocked the entertainment world when she announced her abrupt departure from the show in the summer of 2018 (pictured together centre, left, in 2015)
Reports of The Affair’s alleged hostile work environment put her previous comments about the show in a new light.
‘I’m a British prude and dread any sex scene that has to be performed,’ she told the Mail On Sunday in 2014. ‘For an actor they are miserable and vaguely embarrassing. It’s put me off sex for life,’ she said.
But back then, she defended the show, explaining that she didn’t see the sex as ‘gratuitous.’
‘The sex isn’t gratuitous. I was intent on trying to tell a story within those scenes. It’s not just about the sex, it’s about what is going on in each individual’s mind during it. If it’s just for titillation I think it slows up a story.’
Obliquely addressing her exit during a 2018 interview with the New York Times, Ruth explained: ‘It isn’t about pay parity, and it wasn’t about other jobs, [but] I’m not really allowed to talk about it.’
THR also reported in 2019 there was further upset on set due to the alleged conduct of The Affair’s executive producer and director Jeffrey Reiner.
Dispute: Girls co-show runner Jenni Konner wrote about a night out with Reiner in a blind item for her and Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter, alleging that Reiner praised Lena’s comfort with nudity and asked her to persuade Ruth to ‘show her t*ts’ (Konner and Dunham pictured in 2017)
The report detailed a September 2016 incident during filming in Montauk, New York when, after wrapping for the day crew members working on The Affair ran into the production team on hit show Girls, who were also shooting in the area, in a local bar.
Girls co-show runner Jenni Konner wrote about the meeting in a blind item for her and Lena Dunham’s now defunct Lenny Letter, alleging that Reiner praised Lena’s comfort with nudity on Girls.
They claim he asked the show’s star and co-creator to have dinner with Ruth to persuade her to try and get her to ‘show her t*ts, or at least some vag.’
While Reiner declined to comment on the matter, Cleta Ellington, an assistant director on The Affair, disputed Konner’s account. She said she participated in the conversation.
‘The 2016 Montauk conversation described in Jenni Konner’s September 2016 Lenny Letter did not happen as portrayed by Konner,’ Ellington told THR.
‘While this quick, funny conversation took a few explicit twists and turns, Lena was the provocateur in the conversation.
‘Yes, we did discuss nudity, body doubles, the ins and outs of filming sex scenes, what the various networks expected, and even shared a nude picture of male genitalia after Lena accused The Affair of not showing equal male nudity.
‘But our candid conversation did not once ever pause in discomfort. I feel the Lenny Letter, which inexplicably erased me from the conversation, was a clickbait smear against a trusted colleague.’
Dunham and Konner declined to comment at the time.
Co-creator Treem also wrote that she learned of the incident from California, where she was taking care of her newborn baby while doing edits for the show.
‘When I heard about the incident, I came back to New York and tried to figure out what actually happened,’ she said.
‘When the Lenny Letter came out, I repeatedly urged Showtime to do something. I wanted to shut down production, do sensitivity training, address the cast and crew and apologise for what had occurred.
‘But instead, I was told to stick to certain talking points and let the network handle the response. By the time the third season was over, Showtime executives told me to write Ruth out of the show.’
Interview: ‘I’m a British prude and dread any sex scene that has to be performed,’ Ruth told the Mail On Sunday in 2014. ‘For an actor they are miserable and vaguely embarrassing. It’s put me off sex for life’ (pictured in 2019)