It was her first professional acting job, and filming would take place in Romania. But before sending her to set, neither the film's producers nor her agent showed her the film's full script, Payton says. So it wasn't until halfway through her flight that the sophomore at University Of North Carolina's drama program read the screenplay for the first time and discovered a scene in which a character comes out of the shower naked. When she stepped off the plane, knowing no one else on set and without enough money to even place an international phone call, Payton decided to go straight to the top: She mustered up her courage, and approached Seagal in his trailer.
After thanking him for the opportunity, she explained that she hadn't been informed about the expected nude scene, and she wasn't comfortable performing it.
Then he called Payton back in to question her. Was she really not going to perform the nude scenes? Wouldn't she just take her top off? In a December New York Times essay, Salma Hayek said the disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein threatened to shut down production on the film Frida if she didn't appear fully nude in a sex scene with another woman.
Other well-known actresses, including Sarah Jessica Parker and Debra Messing, have gone public with similar ordeals involving different men Parker did not end up doing the scene. Often, as with these now-famous women, as well as the women The Washington Post interviewed for this story, the strong-arming happens early in a performer's career, when they have little to no influence on-set and are working to establish themselves in the industry.
Some reported worrying they would get a reputation for being "difficult" if they said no to the requests. Others feared being replaced, fired or put on an industry blacklist. Still more felt cornered or frightened in the moment, and agreed to go along with the demands in order to make the coercion end. Actresses have spoken about these events throughout the years, but it's not until now, with the MeToo and Time's Up movements working to combat sexual misconduct and fight for true gender equality, that their concerns are being taken more seriously.
Everyone says, 'You're holding stuff up, can you make a decision? For several decades in the early half of the 20th century, the industry was self-censored via regulations known as the Motion Picture Production Code. Around the mid-to lates, those regulations eased, and films began to depict actors in various states of undress.
But those depictions were never spread equally between men and women. These figures have were relatively consistent in the decade since In addition to other requirements, producers must alert performers to any expected nude scenes or sex scenes prior to their audition, obtain separate written consent from the actor for any such scenes and enforce a closed set when filming the scenes.
These rules are the bare minimum, says Dang. Those may include an in-depth conversation between the director and her client about the scene, the ability for her client to review footage after filming the scene and the destruction of any footage from the scene that isn't going to be used. Her negotiations also include explicit detail about what will and will not be shown onscreen, from nipples to pubic hair to shots of an actor's backside.
But even with these protections in place, some directors or producers push for more explicit performances once actors arrive on-set. SAG-AFTRA also employs representatives tasked with visiting sets to ensure compliance, but with thousands of productions happening every year, the union does not have enough personnel to send to each location.
Producers and directors are expected to abide by the rules in good faith - and not all of them do. While filming the largely improvised independent feature film, she spent hours each day with her director and co-star working out dialogue and scenes.
So when the director, Michael David Lynch, suggested they do a full frontal nude scene, Robledo says she felt comfortable telling him in no uncertain terms that she didn't want to do it. But, she says, upon her refusal, Lynch became demanding, telling her the scene depicted something "real" and the movie needed to be authentic. He eventually agreed to film two versions of the scene - one that framed the shot without exposing her - and promised to give her approval on the final version.
It wasn't until several months later, though, when Robledo was in a theatre full of people for the film's first screening, that she saw his final cut, she says. He called her back, she says, and began berating her. She was so disturbed by his behaviour, though, that she opted out of appearing publicly in support of the film, despite winning an award for best actress at the Hill Country Film Festival in Texas.
She says, "I will never know what I missed out on by not doing press," which can be an important opportunity for actors to network, get publicity and meet industry insiders. When reached for comment, Lynch denied the allegations, stating that the nude scene in question was in the script, that Robledo "wanted to do it," and that her recollection of his statements are inaccurate.
Everyone is hustling to make that work; grips, wardrobe, everyone. If you're not playing along, then you're the a-hole. Many women interviewed said they had experienced sexual misconduct on such sets. And their experiences with nude scenes follow a pattern: An actress reaches a verbal agreement with a director or producer, but it goes out the window once cameras begin rolling. Actress and filmmaker Croix Provence says she was working on a non-union film in when she was coerced into taking off a nude-coloured swimsuit for a shower scene after the director explicitly agreed that she could be covered.
She recalled the director telling her things like, "There's no way around it, it's ruining the shot. Can you just be cooperative? Writer and actress Tatiana Paris says she was coerced into taking her clothes off during a sex scene on the set of a short film in after reaching a verbal and written agreement with director establishing that she would not perform nude. During the scene, the actor with whom she was performing began hitting her on the backside, and continued even after she asked him to stop.
The cameras kept rolling. Later, when the crew gathered to watch footage from that day, Paris says one of the assistant directors turned to the rest of the group and asked, "Does anyone else feel like we just watched a girl get raped? That's because nudity contracts can be amended, says Dang, and a verbal, on-the-spot agreement is tantamount to legal consent.
For that reason, some industry insiders are pushing for a system in which an advocate would be present on-set during filming of nude scenes or sex scenes. That person could be an agent or manager, a friend or a person assigned by SAG-AFTRA who would intervene if an actor is asked to do something he or she hasn't agreed to. Reiner says she has informally had co-conspirators who helped her avoid on-set coercion, including a female co-star in one case and a male co-star in another.
She would like to see such allies become required. The advocate would "have the contract in front of them, and say, 'By the way, stop. It's something that you can do today. When Payton's post-shower scene in Flight Of Fury was finally filmed, she convinced on-set higher-ups to let her wear a negligee rather than appear nude. Producers of Flight Of Fury did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Seagal also has not been available for comment, and Anthony Falangetti, an attorney representing Seagal, states that, "It appears based upon Ms.
Payton's assertions, that she did not have to do anything she didn't want to do. I just felt really terrible , and very powerless.
She's speaking up now in the hopes that others won't have to go through what she went through.