HBO’s highly anticipated Westworld—a futuristic Western about “the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin” starring Anthony Hopkins and Evan Rachel Wood—is already drawing controversy for its graphic depictions of sex, and the series hasn’t even premiered yet.
On Wednesday, a consent form signed by Westworld background actors was leaked online. From the Central Casting document:
“This document serves to inform you that this project will require you to be fully nude and/or witness others fully nude and participate in graphic sexual situations. By accepting this Project assignment, you may be required to do any of the following: appear fully nude; wear a pubic hair patch; perform genital-to-genital touching; have your genitals painted; simulate oral sex with hand-to-genital touching; contort to form a table-like shape while being fully nude; pose on all fours while others who are fully nude ride on your back; ride on someone’s back while you are both fully nude; and other assorted acts the Project may require. The Project will also include language and sexual situations that some may consider personally objectionable or uncomfortable.”
It’s not TV. It’s HBO.
But the consent form—as with most things involving this much porking—is not kosher. The network has since received a scolding from SAG-AFTRA, with the union informing all involved performers that—as per their SAG contract—consent to appear in nude or sex scenes can, according to Deadline, “be withdrawn at any time.” A SAG representative will also be present at the time of the shooting to ensure that it’s filmed on a closed set, that no still photography is allowed, and that all the actors are treated appropriately.
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While SAG-AFTRA is putting most of the blame on HBO, the network insists that the consent form was written by Central Casting without any additional input.
HBO released the following statement:
“The document that the background actors were given was created by an outside extras casting vendor. It was not requested, written or approved by HBO, Warner Bros. Television, or the producers, and contains situations that we do not require of any actor. We are rectifying immediately the discrepancies in this vendor’s document with our actual on-set practices, which provide a professional and comfortable working environment for all performers.”
A SAG-AFTRA union rep responded:
“SAG-AFTRA sent the consent form to HBO [Tuesday] afternoon and requested that the document be changed to more accurately reflect the contractual provisions. HBO had every opportunity to rectify this situation, and it was only after their direct refusal to remedy this that we posted the notice on our website. The union is very pleased to hear that HBO is doing the right thing now, but it is disappointing that we had to take such public measures to ensure compliance with our contracts and protect our background actors.”
For fuck’s sake, HBO. If you’re going to paint your actors’ genitals and “contort to form a table-like shape while being fully nude,” please do it aboveboard.
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Image via Westworld/HBO.