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Ruth Wilson says she’s “not allowed to talk about why” she is leaving the show she has starred on for four seasons.
The co-star of Showtime’s The Affair gave her first interview since it was revealed that her character, Alison Bailey, had been killed on the shocking Aug. 5 episode.
“I did want to leave, but I’m not allowed to talk about why,” said Wilson, who was promoting her upcoming movie, The Little Stranger, on Thursday’s CBS This Morning.
When Gayle King pressed her on whether or not her decision was over salary parity, Wilson replied, “I’ve never complained to Showtime about pay parity.”
In February, Wilson had called for equal pay when she told Radio Times that her male co-star Dominic West “definitely gets more” money than her on the series. “Certainly when I signed up to that project, I would have got paid less,” she said. “Then [the producers] might argue, ‘Well, he’s already done a major American TV show [The Wire], so he’s already got a level.’ But even after a Golden Globe, I’m not going to be on parity. So he definitely gets more than me. I mean, I don’t know what the figure is, but I’m sure he does.”
Wilson said the conversation of pay parity “needs to be an open discussion, and men need to help us out,” but she added that she hadn’t spoken to West about it.
When talking to The Hollywood Reporter after the Aug. 5 reveal, The Affair showrunner Sarah Treem said Wilson requested to leave the show. “That was a request, so that was decided basically before we started writing,” she said. “It wasn’t a discovery of any kind. That was very deliberate. And actually, we shot all of her work first. Her whole storyline was shot before we shot anything else.” Treem also said viewers “don’t know the whole story at the end of [the episode].”
Showtime later responded to Wilson’s appearance, saying that Alison’s story “had run its course.”
“We can’t speak for Ruth, but heading into season four everyone agreed the character’s story had run its course,” said the network in a statement to THR. “Ultimately, it felt like the most powerful creative decision would be to end Alison’s arc at the moment when she had finally achieved self-empowerment. The impact of her loss will be felt as the series concludes next season. We thank the many fans who embraced the character of Alison and especially thank Ruth for her indelible work over the past four seasons.”
The Affair follows the different perspectives of main characters Alison, Noah Solloway (West), Helen Butler (Maura Tierney) and Cole Lockhart (Josh Jackson). After revealing in a Noah and Cole-centric episode — spoilers ahead — that Alison had died, this past Sunday’s episode (Aug. 12) showed Alison’s perspective on the event. In a twist, however, the episode featured two differing points of view from her character, leaving some mystery surrounding how her death happened.
“It was a huge challenge. It was like a play,” said Wilson on Thursday about performing the dueling perspectives. “The differences were very slight, but we had two weeks in the same room. It was like a chamber piece.”
Wilson does have an opinion on which one she thinks is the true depiction. The first perspective implied that Alison took her own life — the same conclusion the police have arrived at, while the second showed that she was murdered by her new boyfriend, Ben, played by Ramon Rodriguez.
“I think it’s murder,” Wilson said. “It’s not entirely clear. Is the fantasy version the first half? The second half is reality?”
One thing she is sure of: “I’m not coming back, so she’s dead.”
Later on Thursday at the New York premiere for The Little Stranger, Wilson elaborated slightly when she told reporters that she did not give any input on how Alison’s story ended.
“I had no say over how the character’s arc was going to end or how she would die or leave,” said Wilson. When asked about the sense of acceptance in Alison’s final words about the death of her son, she said: “I always had an image that she would walk into the sunset with her son with no man. That’s what I hoped for her.”
The Affair was renewed for a fifth and final season ahead of the reveal of Alison’s death. The season four finale airs on Sunday. Watch her appearance on CBS below.
Rebecca Cohen contributed to this story.
Aug. 16, 12:35 p.m. Updated with Showtime statement.
Aug. 17, 6:30 a.m. Updated with Wilson’s premiere quote.
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