UPDATE – In an unusual move, SAG-AFTRA has notified members that they have the right to withdraw from scenes requiring nudity or participation in “graphic sexual situations” on the set of HBO’s “Westworld.”
The union, in a member alert posted on its website early Wednesday, said it had become aware that background actors employed on the production had been required to sign a document agreeing to possibly “perform genital-to-genital touching.”
“The SAG-AFTRA Agreement provides that consent to appear in scenes requiring nudity or sex acts may be withdrawn at any time (consent may not be withdrawn as to scenes already shot),” SAG-AFTRA said. “The Agreement further provides that the set must be closed to anyone not having business with the production and that no still photography may be authorized without the consent of the background actor.”
The union said that it will have a representative on the set Wednesday to answer questions.
The union also posted a link to the consent form, which reads: “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.”
HBO did not immediately respond to a request for comment but issued a statement at 2:42 p.m. that placed the responsibility on Central Casting, which put out the document:
“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.”
The one-hour drama, inspired by the 1973 film of the same name, is “a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin.” The series, set to air in February, stars Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden and Thandie Newton.
Jonathan Nolan serves as executive producer/writer/director and Lisa Joy is executive producer/writer. Executive producers are J.J. Abrams, Jerry Weintraub, and Bryan Burk; Kathy Lingg is co-executive producer; Athena Wickham is producer; and Susie Ekins is co-producer. The series is produced by Bad Robot Productions, Jerry Weintraub Productions and Kilter Films in association with Warner Bros. Television.
“Westworld” was selected in July by the California Film Commission for a conditional $12 million tax credit as one of seven shows receiving a total of $55 million through its incentive program during this fiscal year.