Ruth Wilson on taking control of The Affair’s sex scenes: “It's about standing up for yourself”

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Amy Swales
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Filming sex scenes is probably rarely much fun for the actors involved, whatever the final cut looks like. And given the prevalence of sexism in the industry, female stars can often feel objectified, pressured and abused when it comes to simulating sex on camera.

In a new interview, The Affair’s Ruth Wilson says she’s learnt to stand her ground during the show’s many sexually-driven scenes, explaining: “There are times when I have to say, ‘I’m not happy doing that anymore’.”

Having previously revealed that in the early seasons, she’d argue with the show’s team to try and level the playing field (“I kept insisting, ‘Why have I always got to do the orgasm face? There should be a male orgasm face. Why is it always the woman who’s orgasming?’”) and that she and co-star Dominic West were determined that the scenes were never “gratuitous”, she tells The Edit magazine that she trusts her instinct.

“It’s hard because there is so much pressure, including on yourself. But there are times when I have to say, ‘I’m not happy doing that anymore’. It’s about understanding and trusting yourself, then standing up for yourself.”

Brit actor Wilson, 35, also discusses how she wanted her character, Alison, to be as full and real a person as possible, explaining that it was her prompting that ensured the death of the character’s child wasn’t simply a footnote to her affair with Noah (West).

“She [Alison] suffered a major grief,” she explains in the interview. “It was important to serve that properly, to try to understand what it’s like to lose a child, so I was intent that that [grief] was going to shape who she is.

“It can’t just be said early on and forgotten. Since then, the show has become more plot-driven.”

Similarly, Wilson, who has recently been appearing on stage in Hedda Gabler at the National Theatre, reveals she’s banging the drum for exploration of Alison’s relationship with Noah’s ex-wife Helen (Maura Tierney): “I love playing with Maura, because she’s funny, brilliant and surprising. But last season, we had one scene. It’s sort of outrageous. I think there is a lot to excavate in that.”

Viewers have been hooked on the drama – the unfolding and repercussions of an extramarital affair told from several characters’ perspectives – since its premiere in 2014, and the fourth season will begin filming in summer.

Read the full interview here.

Images: Rex Features


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Amy Swales

Amy Swales is a freelance writer who likes to eat, drink and talk about her dog. She will continue to plunder her own life and the lives of her loved ones for material in the name of comedy, catharsis and getting pictures of her dog on the internet.