Ruth Wilson Left The Affair over Nude Scenes and 'Very Toxic' Environment: Report
Insiders are now detailing the alleged reasons behind Ruth Wilson's decision to leave the Showtime series
In August 2018, the actress, 37, who played Alison Lockhart on the series, told The New York Times in a profile that she was “not really allowed to talk about” what made her quit the show.
“There is a much bigger story,” she said at the time, telling press to speak to showrunner Sarah Treem about her decision.
In a new story on Monday from The Hollywood Reporter, insiders claimed that Wilson objected to filming some of the frequent nude scenes on the show, especially when it seemed unnecessary for her to be unclothed.
One source claimed to overhear Wilson discussing a male costar on set and asking, “Why do you need to see me and not more of him?” according to THR.
A source claimed to THR that Treem would “try to cajole actors to get naked even if they were uncomfortable or not contractually obligated to.”
The source claimed that Treem would pressure actresses to be nude on set with compliments such as “you look beautiful” or “everyone is waiting for you,” which the source told THR 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 added.
The showrunner denied ever pressuring her actresses and explained to the outlet 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 said, adding that she “did everything I could think of to make [Wilson] feel comfortable with these scenes.”
She asserted that she has “devoted [her] entire professional life to writing about and speaking to women’s issues” and that the reason she created The Affair was “to illuminate how the female experience of moving through the world is so different from the male one.”
One insider told THR that Wilson refused to shoot a “rapey” scene, and a body double filmed it instead.
The report also detailed a group dinner attended by Girls creator Lena Dunham, The Affair executive producer Jeffrey Reiner, and others. Reiner allegedly showed her a graphic image and tried to persuade Dunham to get Wilson to “show her tits, or at least some vag” on the show.
Representatives for Wilson and Dunham did not immediately return PEOPLE’s requests for comment.
Cleta Ellington, who is a longtime associate of Reiner’s and an assistant director on the show, recalled the conversation to be different 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,” said Ellington. “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 did not respond to THR‘s requests for comment.
According to THR, Wilson raised a complaint with Showtime in February 2017 about Reiner’s alleged behavior, asserting that the company was allowing a “hostile work environment.”
However, Showtime claimed to have “a safe environment for [actors] to do their best work,” a Showtime rep said in a statement to PEOPLE.
“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,” the rep said.
Wilson did not return for season 4 of The Affair and was killed off from the show in a violent murder, although THR reports that she successfully shot down the concept of a sexual assault in her final episode.