A year after Ruth Wilson left The Affair, a recently published report revealed the alleged reasons behind her abrupt departure from the show.
In August 2018, the 37-year-old actress, who portrayed Alison Lochart, told The New York Times in a profile that she was “not really allowed to talk about” her reason for quitting the show.
“There is a much bigger story,” Wilson said at the time, telling the press to speak to showrunner Sarah Treem about her choice.
In the new story published by The Hollywood Reporter, insiders claimed that the actress objected to filming some of the show’s frequent nude scenes, especially when it appeared not to be necessary for her to be disrobed.
Another source claimed to overhear Wilson ask, when referring to a male co-star, “Why do you need to see me and not more of him?”
One insider claimed to the outlet that Treem would “try to cajole actors to get naked even if they were uncomfortable or not contractually obligated to.”
The insider alleged that Treem would put pressure on the actresses to be nude on set with compliments such as “you look beautiful” or “everyone is waiting for you,” which the insider told The Hollywood Reported that it sounded like “things you would think would be coming out of a man’s mouth from the 1950s.”
“The environment was very toxic,” the source claimed.
Since the circulation of the report, Treem has denied ever pressuring the actresses and clarified to the publication that she “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,” she stated, adding that she “did everything I could think of to make [Wilson] feel comfortable with these scenes.”
Treem professed that she has “devoted [her] entire professional life to writing about and speaking to women’s issue,” and the reason she created the show was “to illuminate how the female experience of moving through the world is so different from the male one.”
Another source told the outlet that Wilson refused to shoot a “sexual assault-type” scene, and a body double was cast instead.
The Hollywood Reporter story also focused on a group dinner attended by Girls creator Lena Dunham, The Affair‘s executive producer Jeffrey Reiner, and others. Allegedly, Reiner showed Dunham a graphic image and tried to persuade her to get Wilson to “show her tits, or at least some vag” on the series.
However, Cleta Ellington, who is a longtime associate of Reiner’s and an assistant director on the show, said she recalled the conversation differently than what was described in the report. “While this quick, funny conversation took a few explicit twists and turns, Lena was the provocateur in the conversation,” she said. “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.”
According to the publication, Wilson raised her concerns with Showtime in February 2017 about Reiner’s alleged behavior, and claimed that the company was allowing a “hostile work environment.”
However, the network’s representative said in a statement claiming Showtime has “a safe environment for [actors] to do their best work.”
The Showtime representative continued: “When confronted with a report of inappropriate behavior involving anyone within our offices or productions, we immediately initiate a process overseen by our compliance team in the case of our own shows, or in the case of series we license from others, we collaborate closely with the relevant production studio. In the instances that THR is referencing, appropriate and decisive action was taken.”
Wilson did not return for the fourth season of The Affair; her character was brutally removed from the show, she did fight against the idea of using a “violent sexual assault” scene to end her character that Treem proposed and fought to keep in but was ultimately canned.