According to Debra Messing, director Alfonso Arau pressured her to perform a nude scene for the 1995 film A Walk in the Clouds and made inappropriate comments about her appearance
Debra Messing spoke during the Makers Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California about shooting her first Hollywood movie, how her initial excitement got clouded by several humiliating events.
Messing recalls her first day of shooting involved a passionate kiss with co-star Keanu Reeves when the director, Alfonso Arau, said “, “How quickly can we get a plastic surgeon in here? Her nose is ruining my movie!”
Messing completed the scene before going back to her trailer and crying. She said that she felt ugly, like garbage and she felt deep shame. The director’s comments echoed the anti-Semitism she experienced while growing up in Rhode Island.
The second day of filming wasn’t much better, Messing was bullied into shooting a nude scene despite being previously told that the movie wouldn’t contain nude scenes.
She confronted the director and, according to her, he said that as the director he makes the decisions, and that she should be grateful to have gotten the part. “Your job is to get naked and say the lines,” he told her.
Messing did the scene, and only her bare back appeared in the final cut. “The whole thing was a power play. I felt violated.” she said. It was intended to demean her, to strip her of her pride and power, she added.
A representative for Arau said that the actress’ account of the events wasn’t correct, he stated that Messing was never nude during the scene she described and that the director didn’t make the offensive comments about her nose.
The studio that released A Walk in the Clouds, 20th Century Fox, declined to comment about the allegations.
During her early days on the NBC sitcom Will & Grace, Messing stated that she was pressed to wear bra inserts, but they were removed from her wardrobe after she threatened to take up the issue with the network’s upper management. When asked about this issue, the NBC spokesperson did not comment.