© 2023 KVNF Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

#MeToo Reckoning Is Reshaping How Sex Scenes Are Negotiated And Filmed In Hollywood


The #MeToo movement is forcing Hollywood to confront issues of consent. Just this week, Les Moonves was forced out as CEO of CBS after multiple women came forward with accusations of sexual harassment and assault. Journalist Tatiana Siegel has been looking into how this reckoning is reshaping the way sex scenes are negotiated and filmed. She's deputy film editor for The Hollywood Reporter and joins us now. Welcome.

TATIANA SIEGEL: Thanks for having me.

SHAPIRO: You talked with filmmakers, agents and lawyers who negotiate the contracts covering nude scenes in movies. What do they tell you has changed in the last 10 months?

SIEGEL: I mean, some will say it's hollow, but there's a lot more talk of, like, hey, we need to make sure that the actresses on our film or TV show or actors in occasional cases are not being forced to do something or even sort of bullied or pressured or whatever into doing something that they didn't sign up for. We need to have more things in our contracts that will protect our clients. That's when I'm talking to agents and lawyers and managers. But...

SHAPIRO: What does protect our clients mean in this case? What's the big fear?

SIEGEL: The thing that clients need to be protected from is not being coerced into doing something that they didn't negotiate before they started working on the film or TV show. And apparently it's quite common. Like, you will have an actress and sometimes an actor who has a negotiated nudity rider that says, you know, certain things they agree to do, and that's it - that simple. They've signed it, whatever.

They get to the set, and maybe the director says, you know, this isn't working as it is. Just drop the towel, you know? Or can you take off your shirt? And maybe something else had been negotiated. And they feel that they're in a position where it's like, I'm making, like, 50 people stay late this weekend to work because I am not being a pal. And every lawyer and agent says, I don't want my actress or actor to be the sort of - be a pal, and just do it. Like, no, we have a contract, and this is what is negotiated.

SHAPIRO: How detailed do these contracts, these nudity riders get?

SIEGEL: Oh, my goodness, they are very detailed. I had a lawyer tell me that he now inserts up to 40 extremely specific provisions in a fully negotiated nudity rider. And...

SHAPIRO: Forty provisions just for one sex scene.

SIEGEL: Correct - and maybe not even a sex scene. Maybe a - Matt Damon walks away from the camera in "The Martian," and I remember you see his backside. And that's technically nudity, but it probably in his case wasn't even him. But that's also covered in a nudity rider - that you have approval over your body double.

SHAPIRO: When you talk to people in Hollywood, do you get the sense that the fear is legitimate that if a performer does not agree to do something, they will be labeled difficult to work with or blacklisted or otherwise punished?

SIEGEL: Yes, I do think that it is a legitimate fear because your reputation is everything in terms of getting your next bit of work.

SHAPIRO: You know, you began by saying it's surprising how little has changed. Do you think there's a lot more that needs to be done? Do you think women are being taken advantage of in ways they ought not to be right now?

SIEGEL: Yes. And I think that we will start to see more change because there will be cases where somebody will say no in this #MeToo era, and they'll find a reporter who will listen to them. And in the past, people seemed to only listen to A-list actresses. But now people will listen to, like, I was the, you know, fourth extra on some HBO show, and, you know, I didn't feel like I was fully treated properly.

SHAPIRO: Tatiana Siegel is deputy film editor for The Hollywood Reporter, and her recent article is "The New Politics Of Hollywood Sex Scenes In The #MeToo Era." Thanks for joining us today.

SIEGEL: Always a pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.