The Crown Vet Claire Foy Opens Up About Still Feeling 'Exploited' During TV Sex Scenes

claire foy a very british scandal
(Image credit: BBC)

The television and film industry has changed quite a bit over the past few years, with more and more people being held accountable for inappropriate and / or abusive behavior behind the scenes, and inequality in the workplace. With the impact of the #MeToo movement, one thing that has changed is the way sex scenes are approached, so that productions can do a much better job of making sure all of the actors involved in them feel safe and in control of how their bodies are shown and used. But, The Crown vet Claire Foy recently opened up about still feeling ‘exploited’ when it comes to filming sex scenes.

Anyone who watched Claire Foy’s award-winning performance in The Crown, which she led for the first two seasons as Queen Elizabeth II, will know that her part in that series didn’t require much of her when it came to sex scenes. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t come up for the actress recently, though, especially with her new series, A Very British Scandal, being extremely heavy on the topic of sex and showing a lot of it. While talking to the BBC about the show, Foy revealed that she still doesn’t feel great about those intimate scenes, and said: 

It’s a really hard line, because basically you do feel exploited when you are a woman and you are having to perform fake sex on screen. You can’t help but feel exploited. It’s grim — it’s the grimmest thing you can do. You feel exposed. Everyone can try to make you not feel that way, but it’s, unfortunately, the reality.

This must be a tough thing to work through. Plenty of actresses in recent years have spoken about how it feels to do sex scenes, especially with regards to adding nudity to an already uncomfortable situation. Many, at times, have felt pressured to do it or ended up in situations where the filming of it was kind of a free-for-all, with few (or no) guidelines having been set up previously. At the same time, those actresses can feel that the scenes are necessary to the story, much like Foy did with A Very British Scandal, so you might have to find a way to reconcile your negative feelings for actually doing the sex scene, with also believing it needs to be there.

Foy’s part as Margaret, the Duchess of Argyll, in A Very British Scandal calls for her to engage in several sex scenes, as it focuses on her character’s infidelity, which led to one of the longest and most costly divorces of the 20th century in England. Her husband claimed that she was a nymphomaniac during the 1963 hearing in their divorce, and provided photographic evidence of her many affairs, leading to him being granted a divorce because of her adultery. The reveals ruined her life, even though the Duke of Argyll had many affairs of his own. 

While Foy admits that she, unfortunately, still has negative feelings towards doing sex scenes, even with an intimacy coordinator to help organize things, she also noted her belief that those parts of the story had value, and added:

My thing was that I felt very strongly that it had to be in it, but I wanted it to be female. I did not want it be that sort of awful climactic sexual experience that you often see on the cinema screen.

It sounds like Claire Foy was able to work out the sex scenes in A Very British Scandal so that they focus more on Margaret and what she got out of her experiences, which, hopefully, helped Foy feel better about filming them.

A Very British Scandal (which also stars Paul Bettany) will stream on Amazon sometime after it’s completed its run on BBC One (it airs there from December 26 through December 28). For more to watch while you wait for the show, be sure to check out our Christmas movies and TV schedule.

Adrienne Jones
Senior Content Creator

Yennefer's apprentice, Gilmore Girl; will Vulcan nerve pinch pretty much anyone if prompted with cheese...Yes, even Jamie Fraser.