Debra Messing Says She Was Body-Shamed On Set & It Was A "Power Play"

Photo: Vlasta Pilot/BFA/REX/Shutterstock.
Before she was Grace Adler, everyone's favorite interior designer, Debra Messing was an up-and-coming actor hoping to make it big. Her first role was a bit part on NYPD Blue, but her first big break was in the 1995 film A Walk In The Clouds. Remember that one? It co-starred Keanu Reeves and was set in a winery. While the movie might be forgettable, for Messing the experience was something she'll never forget. You'd imagine that her first major film would be something to celebrate, but Messing remembers it as a traumatic experience.

Messing told The Wrap that on the second day of filming, she was told that she'd be doing a nude scene. When she approached director Alfonso Arau and said that she wasn't comfortable with it, Messing says that he told her that she was there to follow directions, not ask questions.

"Are you kidding me?" he allegedly said. "Your job is to get naked and say the lines, that's it. You should be grateful to have this part. Get out!" When Messing approached her agents about it, all they said was "you can say no and they fire you or you can do it and you keep your job."

That's not all, Messing claims that he also criticized her appearance. She says that after wrapping a scene, Arau shouted "How quickly can we get a plastic surgeon in here? Her nose is ruining my movie! [...] I can’t do this! Look at this!"

Messing says that the experience left her feeling ugly. "I felt like garbage," she said. "I felt deep shame."

After enduring all of that humiliation, Messing told The Wrap that all of her nude scenes were cut from the film. "It turns out, after all this trauma, the only part of my body that is seen naked in the film is my back," she said. "The whole thing was a power play, a game. And the goal, to demean me, to strip me of my power and make me feel on a cellular level his dominance over me."

Fox, the film's producer, didn't offer a comment. Representatives for Arau haven't responded to The Wrap’s requests for comment, either.
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