The Affair star Ruth Wilson spills on how season 2 is different and why she wants more male nudity on the show.
Sex, violence and nudity – The Affair (2014- current) is definitely not for family viewing. While it’s best to leave the kiddies tucked into bed before you tuck into this series, there’s plenty for adults to enjoy. Like a complicated tale of deceit and betrayals told from various characters’ points of views, plus a Golden Globe award-winning performance from series star Ruth Wilson, who plays waitress Alison Bailey.
Alison’s very free-wheeling and impulsive. Is she anything like you?
I live by the seat of my pants, I suppose. Doing this job, you’ve got to be a bit free-wheeling and impulsive. I work very hard and I’m quite dedicated to what I do and disciplined when I have to work. If I haven’t got to do a job the next day, I’m fairly impulsive. But otherwise, I’m quite well behaved and boring [Laughs].
What are the most challenging parts for you of doing The Affair: the nudity or the emotional scenes?
They’re all hard and challenging. This show requires you to dig deep and to be emotionally vulnerable and open. It does that on a weekly basis. It’s not just one episode. It’s sort of every episode that you’re in, you have to go somewhere that feels like a risk or very exposing in some respect – whether it’s nudity or emotionally, so it’s been hard but gratifying.
You’ve been quite vocal about your fight for equal nudity between the sexes on the show. And now it’s happened in season 2…
There should be equal opportunity for nudity. I fight for equal nudity. It was a major challenge for me having to face sex scenes every week. I had only done one sex scene before this show. Sex scenes are often the least interesting scenes. The build-up is interesting but sex itself… not that interesting. There is only so much you can keep playing with, so when we have sex scenes it’s always: is it necessary and why is this in here and is it moving the story forward or is it titillation in some form and I’m not interested in being part of just titillation. I want it to challenge and to interest and for people to have to think once they’ve seen it.
It seems that your character is going on a different journey this season.
It’s changed a lot. It’s split to four perspectives. Last season we just had two. Now we have the consequences, which are obviously wide-reaching but both [the cheated-on spouses] Cole and Helen (Joshua Jackson and Maura Tierney) have their perspectives as well. There’s the huge effects of this affair on everyone involved. It’s great for me in some ways as I get a bit more time off. I’m not in every episode and my perspective isn’t in every episode, so I get a bit of downtime but it’s fascinating. It means you get to play their version of you as well – so four versions of Alison. It breaks the story wide open as well. It means that you’re following four individual stories rather than just two, which are linked with everyone else and you’ll see as it goes through this season, it’s about their individual journeys – all of them. I don’t get to act as much as I would like to with all of them. I get to act with lots of other characters, new characters, but we all split off and go a separate journey.
Is there a part of her character that you’d like to explore?
In the first season, it was very much about her journey and about this woman who was going deeper into a hole of despair and was lost in a fog of grief. I wanted to see her become stronger and I wanted the audience to be given the satisfaction of actually seeing her rise from the ashes. This season there’s a slow development and understanding of oneself, growing internally, being stronger. Last season she was a victim of circumstance. This season, Alison’s taking ownership and that excites me.
Brit actress Ruth Wilson is excited by her character’s
growth in season 2.
Ruth wants everything equal in the show, including male nudity from the likes of co-star Dominic West (Noah).