An actress is cast in a big-name drama, and then, a few days later, journalists are quick to ‘unearth’ sex scenes from their previous TV or film roles. Depressingly, it’s a news cycle that’s tragically outdated - but it’s still, in 2019, very much a thing. This week, it just happened that the incredibly talented Jodie Comer - who plays ruthless assassin Villanelle in Killing Eve - was the target, just as season two of the show dropped in America. ‘Jodie Comer frolics naked on a bed in a raunchy scene for a historical drama – a YEAR before finding international stardom on Killing Eve,’ The Sun Online hysterically screamed, with a video to the aforementioned scene from American programme The White Princess.
Predictably, the same thing happened to Keeley Hawes when she was starring in Bodyguard as Home Secretary Julia Montague - the Express going with the headline ‘Bodyguard BBC star Keeley Hawes STRIPS OFF in seriously raunchy serial killer film’ along with screengrabs, from the film, of Keeley almost completely naked. The film in question, Complicity - which, bizarrely, her Bodyguard co-star Richard Madden starred in as a 13-year-old - was released 18 years ago. Hardly news, you know, as it happened 18 fucking years ago.
And the same hysteria just doesn't happen to men, does it? In the amongst the Bodyguard hype, Richard Madden - aka David Budd - did not get the same treatment as Keeley. As Robb Stark, the actor had sex on screen in Game of Thrones before his role in the hit BBC series - but, unsurprisingly, there was little mention of his previous ‘steamy' sex scenes.
The number of women who have had their naked bodies printed in papers, or splashed online, just because they’re an actress is ridiculous - and there are far too many to mention. (Dakota Johnson, Emilia Clarke, Gemma Arterton spring to mind.) But it’s not as if royal women are immune either, Meghan Markle might be Prince Harry’s wife now, but she’s also known, if you want to believe headlines, as a woman who had numerous sex scenes in Suits (‘Royal flush: Meghan Markle sets pulses racing in SEXIEST Suits moments.’)
Why do we keep on doing this to talented women? Who are, literally, being slut-shamed for doing their jobs? Unfortunately, it’s probably because showing their naked bodies is the closest thing you can do to leaking private nudes or a sex tape. But, because they’re on camera in a drama, somehow editors don't really see it as exploitative - ‘they consented! It’s their jobs!’ - and instead, it's somehow perversely seen as a more legitimate type of porn.
It’s 2019, we should be able to appreciate actresses for their talent - and not for their bodies. It really isn’t that hard.