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Ruth Wilson Reveals Why She Left 'The Affair': She 'Didn't Feel Safe' On Set

Ruth Wilson Wearing Red Lipstick
Source: MEGA

Nov. 4 2020, Published 8:46 p.m. ET

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Honesty hour. Ruth Wilson revealed why she really left the hit show The Affair in 2018 after four seasons. 

"The reason I haven’t gone into The Affair is that I haven’t worked out how to discuss it," she told Stylist. "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," she continued. "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.

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"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," she confessed. 

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In August 2018, the 38-year-old actress — who played Alison Lockhart on the Showtime series — revealed that she would no longer be starring on the drama show. "It isn’t about pay parity, and it wasn’t about other jobs," she told The New York Times. "But I’m not really allowed to talk about it. There is a much bigger story."

Later on, The Hollywood Reporter reported in December 2019 that Wilson, 38, didn’t want to film nude scenes on the show. Insiders said the set was "very toxic" and showrunner Sarah Treem would "try to cajole actors to get naked."

However, Showtime maintained that their environment was "safe" so that actors could "do their best work."

"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 Showtime rep told PEOPLE.

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That same month, Treem cleared the air and told her side of the story. "A little less than two weeks ago, writers from The Hollywood Reporter reached out to say they would be publishing an article about how I created a hostile work environment and asked for a response," she wrote for Deadline. "Unfortunately, not much of my perspective made it into the story, nor the perspectives of many of the half dozen senior-level producers, director and other key crew members who spoke up."

Treem also touched upon a sex scene that was filmed during the second season of The Affair. THR reported that Wilson refused to partake in the "rapey" scene, and as a result, a body double was brought in. 

"Did I know that scene reads as a male fantasy? Of course," Treem wrote. "That was the whole point. The Affair was about perspective. And specifically, about subverting the male narrative."

Treem was aware that Wilson didn’t see eye to eye on her vision since they "had been disagreeing on the character’s choices since the second episode."

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"So that day, as in most cases, we had a lengthy discussion about the scene, notes went back and forth, changes were made, and then Ruth played the scene the way she felt her character would," Treem explained. "Which did alter the intent of the scene to something that seemed non-consensual. But we had discussed the scene and Ruth made her choices as an artist. Then we brought in a body double to do any nudity. And that was the scene we aired."

THR also reported on a group dinner — which Lena Dunham and The Affair executive producer Jeffrey Reiner attended — where Reiner allegedly showed Dunham a graphic image and tried to get Wilson to "show her tits, or at least some vag" on the series. 

"When I heard about the incident, I came back to New York and tried to figure out what actually happened," Treem said. "I repeatedly urged Showtime to do something. I wanted to shut down production, do sensitivity training, address the cast and crew and apologize 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."

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