Debra Messing Reveals A Famous Director Demeaned + Harassed Her On Set
Debra Messing -- who has built an impressive, lengthy career since her initial foray into acting several decades ago -- recently opened up about a deeply traumatic, but all-too-familiar, experience she faced while on the set of her first major movie, A Walk in the Clouds.
Messing delivered a revelatory speech at the MAKERS Conference in California, where she explained director Alfonso Arau cruelly body shamed her when she was 22 years old.
"I’d never been on a film before," she said via Elle. "I was doing a love scene with Keanu Reeves. We started filming and the very famous director screamed, 'Cut' and said, 'How quickly can we get a plastic surgeon in here? Her nose is ruining my movie.'"
Messing went on to explain how Arau’s derogatory comments affected her confidence.
"I was so confident coming out of graduate school with my Masters in acting," she said. "I’d studied in London and I was so well equipped with skill sets, and then to walk on set and have that happen – I was reduced to an un-Hollywood nose."
The Will & Grace star also recounted another humiliating experience on-set, when she was forced to shoot a nude scene she hadn’t agreed to do. Despite expressing her discomfort with the scene, Messing’s agent reportedly told the actress she’d be fired if she refused, and when she confronted Arau directly, he reportedly told her, "Your job is to get naked and to say the lines. That’s it. You should be grateful to have this part!”
Messing, who felt pressured into doing the scene for the sake of her career, then went on to explain Arau allegedly lifted the sheet covering her between takes to look at her naked body: "He dropped the sheet on top of me like a used Kleenex, then walked away without a word."
"It turns out," Messing continued, "after all this trauma, the only part of my body that's seen naked in the film is my back. The whole thing was a power play, a game. And the goal, to demean me, to strip me of my power and make me feel on a cellular level his dominance over me."
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