‘Too many sex scenes’: Why Ruth Wilson left The Affair

Allegedly ‘toxic environment’ of hit TV show also contributed to actor’s abrupt exit

End of The Affair: Ruth Wilson with Dominic West in the first season. Photograph: Steven Lippman/Showtime/Sky

End of The Affair: Ruth Wilson with Dominic West in the first season. Photograph: Steven Lippman/Showtime/Sky


Ruth Wilson quit the hit US television drama The Affair because of a “very toxic work environment”, according to testimonies given to the Hollywood Reporter. The 37-year-old actor, who is also known for her role as Alice Morgan in the BBC series Luther, left the show because of the frequency and nature of the sex scenes she had to perform, and friction with the showrunner, Sarah Treem, the sources say.

Since leaving the show, which is broadcast on Sky Atlantic in Ireland, in 2018, Wilson has claimed she was “not allowed” to speak about the reasons behind her departure. She had previously confirmed it was not due to the apparent pay disparity with male costar Dominic West but hinted at issues with the show’s production.

In a 2018 interview with the New York Times, the actor said that leaving the show “isn’t about pay parity, and it wasn’t about other jobs… but I’m not really allowed to talk about it”, adding that there was a “much bigger story” at play involving Treem.

According to sources working on the show, Wilson was uncomfortable with the frequent nude scenes, and pushed back against what is described as “tone deafness from Sarah Treem, about recognising the position she was putting actors in”.

It is also alleged that Treem praised the appearance of women actors, including Wilson, in a way that was perceived as inappropriate, and that these comments were “things you would think would be coming out of a man’s mouth from the 1950s… The environment was very toxic.” Wilson is said to have expressed concern, only to have been labelled “difficult”.

A source also alleged that footage of sex scenes while they were being filmed was visible on monitors to multiple parties, leading to an incident where it was able to be watched by someone not involved with the production.

Treem, who previously worked on the Netflix hit House of Cards, has denied the allegations, stating: “I 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.” Treem also claims to have cut scenes that Wilson was uncomfortable with, among other measures.

Vehemently denying the picture painted by the sources, she added: “The idea that I would ever cultivate an unsafe environment or harass a woman on one of my shows is utterly ridiculous and lacks a grounding in reality.”

Sources claim that Wilson was able to leave the show following an investigation into its executive producer Jeffrey Reiner, who, it is claimed, discussed intimate details of filming and showed a picture of a male colleague’s genitalia to the Girls creators Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner. Some intimate scenes on the show were shot with a body double – who then sued Showtime in 2017, after being described on a call sheet as the “Sexytime double” of Wilson’s character, Alison.

Wilson won a Golden Globe for her role in the drama, in which she and West told the respective sides of their characters’ torrid love affair. Described by Treem as “the Rashomon of relationship dramas”, the show ran for five series before concluding earlier this year. – Guardian