That sexy scene on your favorite show? It might just be an actress working under coercion.

lost

Escapism isn’t so escapist these days.

Let’s start with Evangeline Lilly:

It’s a well known fact at this point that Evangeline Lilly considered quitting acting after her tenure on the ABC scifi drama Lost, only deciding not to quit after her experience on Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films.

“In Season 3, I’d had a bad experience on set with being basically cornered into doing a scene partially naked, and I felt had no choice in the matter,” she said, as transcribed by Variety. “And I was mortified and I was trembling when it finished. I was crying my eyes out, and I had to go and do a very formidable, very strong scene thereafter.”

The producers apologized after this story emerged, for what it’s worth.

Lilly’s story reminded me of what happened to Selma Hayek:

Halfway through shooting, Harvey turned up on set and complained about Frida’s “unibrow.” He insisted that I eliminate the limp and berated my performance. Then he asked everyone in the room to step out except for me. He told me that the only thing I had going for me was my sex appeal and that there was none of that in this movie. So he told me he was going to shut down the film because no one would want to see me in that role.

He offered me one option to continue. He would let me finish the film if I agreed to do a sex scene with another woman. And he demanded full-frontal nudity.

I arrived on the set the day we were to shoot the scene that I believed would save the movie. And for the first and last time in my career, I had a nervous breakdown: My body began to shake uncontrollably, my breath was short and I began to cry and cry, unable to stop, as if I were throwing up tears.

Since those around me had no knowledge of my history of Harvey, they were very surprised by my struggle that morning. It was not because I would be naked with another woman. It was because I would be naked with her for Harvey Weinstein. But I could not tell them then.

This kind of stuff has been going on forever.

They engage in some steamy clinches, the most famous involving Schneider face down on the apartment floor while Brando applies butter to her nether regions and performs a sex act on her.

“That scene wasn’t in the original script. The truth is it was Marlon who came up with the idea,” she says.

“They only told me about it before we had to film the scene and I was so angry.

“I should have called my agent or had my lawyer come to the set because you can’t force someone to do something that isn’t in the script, but at the time, I didn’t know that.

“Marlon said to me: ‘Maria, don’t worry, it’s just a movie,’ but during the scene, even though what Marlon was doing wasn’t real, I was crying real tears.

“I felt humiliated and to be honest that it’s hard to sit through any such scene, I felt a little raped, both by Marlon and by Bertolucci. After the scene, Marlon didn’t console me or apologise. Thankfully, there was just one take.”

Now. I don’t think that every nude or partially nude scene with a beautiful actress is always the product of coercion. (And coercion in such matters is wrong, wrong, wrong.) But it happens often enough that when you see such a scene, tiny alarm bells should be going off in the back of your mind.

The actors unions have rules for how nudity and sex are to be depicted, but it’s easy to see that they’re maybe not strictly enforced. It’s possible that animals are better protected on movie and TV sets than women.

I’m not sure what advice to give viewers here, except maybe: Trust your gut. If it seems gratuitous and exploitative, it might be exactly that. You might want to adjust your viewing accordingly.

Author: joeldermole

Joel Mathis is a freelance writer who lives in Lawrence, Kansas with his wife and son. He spent nine years as a syndicated columnist, co-writing the RedBlueAmerica column as the liberal half of a point-counterpoint duo. His honors include awards for best online commentary from the Online News Association and (twice) from the City and Regional Magazine Association.

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