Actor Debra Messing has spilled the beans on the absolutely awful treatment she experienced filming her first movie more than 20 years ago. She was intentionally humiliated by the director, who criticized her appearance while she filmed a nude scene alongside Keanu Reeves.
Messing revealed the details of the ordeal during an interview with Elle. Not only did the director tell her to get a nose job, but he also exposed her naked body to those on set by lifting up a sheet that was covering her during a love scene, before dropping it "like a used Kleenex" and walking away silently.
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Named And Shamed
The film Messing is referring to is A Walk in the Clouds, her first ever film back in 1995. She starred alongside Keanu Reeves, who at the time had already become a big star.
The film was directed by Alfonso Arau, who apparently called "cut" on their love scene to say the following:
"How quickly can we get a plastic surgeon in here? Her nose is ruining my movie."
Messing was also told she had to be naked for the scene, despite only a shot of her back being used in the movie. She said the incident was Arau's attempt to "demean me, strip me of my pride, my power."
"It Was A Shock"
Suffice to say, Messing was appalled. Being a young, inexperienced actor, she wasn't sure how to respond— thought the incident definitely had a profound and lasting effect on her self-esteem:
"It's taken me years and years and years to finally own my differences and to love what's different about me, and to come face to face with a truth within my industry, within our culture. There is a very narrow definition of what a beautiful, vital, vibrant, interesting woman looks like, and that's the thing we're constantly fighting against. My entire career I've been swimming in that pond, where it's like, 'Oh no, you don't look right'."
Messing's confession just goes to show how demeaning words like Arau's can impact someone for the rest of their life, regardless of who they are.
The Women Of Hollywood Will Not Be Silenced
Messing isn't the only one to speak out against unfair and sexist treatment during her acting career. Last year, Mila Kunis wrote a very personal essay detailing the various acts of sexism she'd encountered. One incident she described involved a photographer telling her she would never work again unless she got naked for a photoshoot.
Even Michelle Rodriguez almost left Fast and the Furious because she wasn't happy with how the franchise portrayed her character:
"I’m really picky about the parts I choose. I can’t be the slut. I cannot be just the girlfriend. I can’t be the girl who gets empowered because she’s been raped. I can’t be the girl who gets empowered and then dies."
"I'm A Fucking Original"
Despite her experience, Messing has refused to allow people to reduce her to her "un-Hollywood nose":
"I have a strong nose, I have small breasts. I'm a fucking original. My nose and I have come this far, and like Barbra Streisand I'm defiantly keeping it."
One thing's for sure: women in Hollywood have had enough of being treated poorly because of their gender, and they're not going to keep quiet about it. Hopefully more celebrities will follow Messing's example and hold people accountable for their damaging actions.
What do you think of Debra Messing's story?