Debra Messing, like many Hollywood actresses, has had difficult, demeaning experiences with male directors and she is not afraid to name names.
Messing made an appearance at this year’s MAKERS conference in Paso Robles. Elle spoke with Messing and she got to talking about the 1995 film A Walk in the Clouds directed by Alfonso Arau. She alleged that Arau started with criticizing her face, which he’d presumably seen before the shoot day, then moved on to more predatory behavior.
“I’d never been on a film before,” said Messing, “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.’”
“It was a shock,” Messing continued, “I was so confident coming out of graduate school with my Masters in acting. 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.”
Despite Arau’s nasty comments, production continued. At an after-dinner performance during the MAKERS conference, Messing revealed more of her experience with Arau, saying he surprised her with a nudity scene that hadn’t been discussed. She says during the shoot, he lifted the sheet covering her and examined her body. Then:
“He dropped the sheet on top of me like a used Kleenex, then walked away without a word,” she said, describing it as a power move that was intended to “demean me, strip me of my pride, my power.” There was no nudity in the final cut of the film, aside from Messing’s back.