Aussie Actress Samara Weaving Leaves US Show Show Over On Set Misconduct
With SMILF about to air its second season, the show's creator has come under fire for alleged on-set misconduct.
According to a report from The Hollywood Reporter, various cast and crew members have come forward anonymously with several complaints again the show's creator and star, which lead to ABC Studios -- which produces the series -- to launch an investigation which has since concluded.
Claims against Frankie Shaw -- who created the series from her Jury Prize-winning Sundance short film -- included abusive behaviour on set as well as two inappropriately handled sex scenes, which culminated in Aussie actress Samara Weaving leaving the show, citing breach of contract.
The first sex scene incident allegedly happened during shooting for season two when Weaving was informed with just 40 minutes notice that she would be participating in a sex scene which required her to be nude -- despite having a no-nudity clause in her contract.
According to sources, Shaw then brought Weaving, who was apprehensive to perform the scene, into a trailer and then took off her own shirt to ask why Weaving had a problem with nudity when she herself didn't.
Frankie Shaw's lawyer has since said her breasts were not exposed during the pair's conversation.
The second sex scene incident during production for season two is apparently what lead the former Home and Away star to leave the show.
The claim stated that Weaving was expected to participate in another sex scene, working with co-star Miguel Gomez playing on-screen love interest Rafi -- who would be fully nude while Weaving would be required to wear underwear and a shirt.
The actors reportedly requested a closed set so that their privacy could be respected while shooting the scene. This meant that monitors outside of the room in which they were filming were to be shut off during shooting.
However, Frankie Shaw allegedly told a member of staff to turn the monitors back on after hearing they were off (Shaw was not on set at the time), which then meant the actors were exposed to more than a dozen people outside the closed set who were able to witness the intimate scene.
Shaw and Weaving's co-star Rosie O'Donnell initially declined to comment on the fallout, with her publicist saying that the show is “in a legal situation” and thus O'Donnell would not comment.
However, after Shaw contacted her, she gave the following statement to THR:
"I have worked with Frankie Shaw for two and a half years. She is an immensely gifted young talent. I love acting on SMILF, a show that I am extremely proud of.”
As well as this, there were other complaints lodged against Shaw via Disney's anonymous tip line, which claimed that writers were separated by race and denied compensation for their work, as well as assistants undertaking writing assignments without being paid or credited.
Shaw denied any bias via an attorney, saying in a statement:
"I work daily to create an environment in which everyone should feel safe, and in which I can continue to grow as a leader and manager. I am now and always have been open to hearing and addressing all concerns and issues that fall within my control. It pains me to learn that anyone felt uncomfortable on my set. I sincerely hope we can work together to resolve any and all issues, as I am committed to creating a workplace in which all people feel safe and heard.”
Regarding the race allegations, Shaw said she was committed to amplifying under-represented voices and creating “an intersectional workplace in which more than a third of writers were women of colour.”
Multiple anonymous sources have since backed complaints about alleged manipulative treatment on-set, saying that they were scared Shaw would attempt to destroy their careers if they spoke out against her.
One source told THR, “She uses this idea of being feminist and a progressive as camouflage. A lot of shows are generally unpleasant. Production is stressful. There are a lot of shows where people are angry at each other and then it’s over and then you celebrate the work. This was not like that. People were really traumatised. It was pretty upsetting.”
In its own statement to THR, ABC Studios said it is “committed to a safe work environment, and when we are made aware of issues we address them appropriately. Complaints were brought to our attention after season two production wrapped, and we are investigating. We will take appropriate steps going forward if season three is ordered.”
ABC Studios’ investigation has since concluded and found that there had been no wrongdoing on Shaw’s part, while Samara Weaving was released from her contract as per her request.
You can read the full report at The Hollywood Reporter.