However, more and more women are being vocal about the problem in the hope of drawing attention to it and changing the experience for those following in their footsteps.
Emmy Rossum, star of the US version of Shameless, is the latest to detail a depressing audition scenario, revealing how she was asked to strip to a bikini – and that was the whole audition.
What’s more, the part she was up for didn’t even call for her body to be shown; Rossum suspects that the director simply wanted to see whether she’d gained any weight.
Speaking at one of The Hollywood Reporter’s round table interviews, with fellow actors Pamela Adlon, Minnie Driver, Kathryn Hahn and Issa Rae, she says she hasn’t had a casting couch situation in the original role-for-sex sense, but goes on to describe getting a call from her agent.
She explains: “Even as recently as a year ago, my agent called me and was like, ‘I’m so embarrassed to make this call, but there’s a big movie and they’re going to offer it to you. They really love your work on the show. But the director wants you to come into his office in a bikini. There’s no audition. That’s all you have to do.’”
As Adlon points out, in Shameless the audience “see your body all the time” – so why the need?
Rossum continues: “He wanted to know if I was fat now. That was basically the question. And I actually had this moment like, ‘Well, how good is the part?’ For a second, I was like, ‘Would I do it? Send me the script. Maybe the character is in a bikini in the movie’.”
But guess what? “[The character is] not in a bikini in the movie. Not naked in the movie. ‘We really love your work, but we just want to see how tight your ass is.’
“Are you f***ing kidding me? Last time I checked, I'm not a f***ing model.”
The other interviews go on to discuss their own experiences, with Better Things’ Adlon describing how she was asked by a director to drop a towel in front of the camera. She was 15.
“I was doing my second movie […] and you're always supposed to have a guardian on set when you're a minor, but mine was gone, and we did a scene where we broke into a house and then we go swimming in the pool.
“The scene is over, and I have a towel on, and the director comes over to me and he goes, ‘Pam, it would be really funny if you dropped the towel and we could just see your butt, like, really fast.’”
She then explains how she managed to find the strength to say no, despite feeling “humiliated”. She also reveals how the same director encouraged a kissing scene between her and a co-star, telling her: “An apple is an apple, a plum is a plum. A kiss isn’t a kiss without the tongue.”
Rossum, 30, made headlines at the end of last year when she fought to be paid the same as, if not more than, her Shameless co-star William H Macy.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, she describes how the “stalemate negotiation” suddenly resolved once the row became public, and she says while she understood that at the start of the series, Macy was the bigger star, ultimately it didn’t feel right for her to be receiving so much less.
Unlike the UK series, Rossum’s character Fiona Gallagher is a key role in the hit show, but Rossum was reportedly paid less for seven seasons – and is said to have asked to be paid more than Macy, who pays Frank.
“When we started the show, obviously Bill Macy was the green light for the show. It's Bill Macy. He's an Oscar nominee, and I was 22 years old. And then as the show started to really have legs [...] It felt a little bit more weighted in Fiona's direction. And I started to take on a directing hat and take a leadership role. So something that at one time felt OK that it was unbalanced started to feel not as good […]
“But it was difficult for me to say, ‘This is what I think I deserve.’ You do want to be liked.”
The actor goes on to say she waited until her contract ran out and embarked on negotiations, revealing on Twitter in December that should would be reprising her role for the eighth series.
Read the full interview at hollywoodreporter.com
Images: Rex Features