The #MeToo movement has been paramount for exposing decades of sexual misconduct in Hollywood. Though the progress has been slower than many might have hoped, prominent influencers such as Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Bill Cosby have lost their jobs. But gutting the entertainment industry of alleged serial abusers is only one part of an intricate puzzle to make working conditions safer for all actors, especially in the digital age.
This dilemma became ever-more apparent on Thursday, when The Hollywood Reporter published a story questioning how the industry should handle sex scenes in the #MeToo era. It's a powerful read that gives a thorough explainer on "nudity riders" and what legal rights actors have when filming at their most vulnerable. But the piece also addressed something many fans often overlook: What happens with unused sex-scene footage?
While THR reports much of it is supposed to be erased, one source told the outlet that disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, allegedly, may have held onto unused sex-scene footage from the film Carol, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, for his "personal collection."
"I don't even think it's possible to destroy anything in the digital age," the source said. "The idea of anything being erased from existence is naive."
The serious allegation has not been substantiated, and Refinery29 has reached out to both Weinstein's lawyer and agent for comment. Representation for the film's production companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The thought that unused sex-scene footage could be floating around is alarming, especially given how many actors — specifically women — have already been victims of unlawful photo hacks. Actresses such as Jennifer Lawrence, Amanda Seyfried, Emma Watson, Adele, and Lucy Hale are all still reeling after hackers released some of their private photos to the public. Actors deserve to feel safe on set, and a huge part of that entails knowing that the people handling sensitive material will use what THR calls "good faith efforts" to properly dispose of unused nude materials. If actors can't trust the legal systems put in place to help them, Hollywood — and every future love scene — could be in major trouble.