The Truth Behind Ruth Wilson’s ‘The Affair’ Exit Finally Revealed

Patrick Wymore/SHOWTIME

Fans have been wondering since summer 2018 what led to The Affair killing off Alison and Ruth Wilson’s exit from the Showtime drama.

“I did want to leave, but I’m not allowed to talk about why,” the actress said on CBS This Morning at the time, adding, “I’ve never complained to Showtime about pay parity.” That was in response to the rumor that Dominic West‘s salary played a role.

The actress can’t address her exit because she signed an NDA, but The Hollywood Reporter has spoken to sources that detailed a conflict with showrunner Sarah Treem about Wilson’s character, “ongoing frustrations with the nudity required of [Wilson],” such as how often and the context of it, and “a hostile work environment.”

For example, at one point, Wilson wondered why the same level of nudity wasn’t required of her male costar. According to sources, the nudity seemed to be more for “titillating” purposes. She was called “difficult” for her concerns.

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Plus, how did fans react to that original cast member's departure?

“There was a culture problem at the show from the very beginning and a tone-deafness from Sarah Treem about recognizing the position she was putting actors in,” a source said, calling the environment “very toxic.” “Over and over again, I witnessed Sarah Treem try to cajole actors to get naked even if they were uncomfortable or not contractually obligated to.”

Treem said she “did everything [she] could think of to make [Wilson] feel comfortable with these scenes,” including removing some, storyboarding in advance, and getting her approval for some ahead of the final cut of episodes. “I have devoted my entire professional life to writing about and speaking to women’s issues, women’s causes, women’s empowerment and creating strong, complex roles for women in theater and in Hollywood, on- and offscreen,” the showrunner said. “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.”

(Ali Goldstein/SHOWTIME)

Wilson’s exit came about after producer Jenni Konner shared a conversation she and Girls‘ Lena Dunham reportedly had with The Affair executive producer and director Jeffrey Reiner. As Konner wrote in a blind item on her and Dunham’s site, Lenny Letter, Reiner initiated a sexually explicit conversation and had a graphic photo of an actress from the Showtime series alongside a nude male actor. The Affair assistant director Cleta Ellington said that while the photo was part of the conversation, it “did not happen as portrayed by Konner” and “did not once ever pause in discomfort.” Though Treem went to the set and Reiner was called in to HR, some didn’t feel it was “properly addressed.”

Wilson wasn’t comfortable working with the director again. According to sources, she filed a complaint alleging a hostile work environment with Showtime in February 2017. There was an investigation by CBS, and “appropriate and decisive action was taken,” according to a Showtime rep. Specific details were not revealed.

She reportedly used this incident to leave the series, and she disagreed with Treem regarding the storyline for her character’s exit. Alison was murdered, but according to sources, the showrunner wanted her to “fight off an attempted rape” before her death, due to Alison’s “complex psychological issues.”

Stay tuned for more to come on this developing story.