Fans of the hit Showtime series The Affair audibly gasped when they learned that one of the show’s main characters was killed off with two episodes to go in the second to last season. The character of Alison Bailey, played by British actor Ruth Wilson, is dead, but fans still don’t know whether the long-suffering Alison killed herself, or if she was killed by new character Ben.
But no matter how Alison died, the end result is the same: Ruth Wilson has left the show, and at least part of the reason was the difference in pay between herself and the two male stars of the show. Wilson as Alison was a primary cast member, but Dominic West and Jonathan Jackson each reportedly make more than she does. Wilson and West have always been the two main leads on show, and she says that he is paid more, despite the fact that Wilson won an Emmy for the role.
Wilson gave an interview in February and said while she didn’t want to yell from the rooftops that she was paid less, it’s something that should be discussed, says Newsweek.
“I definitely get less money than a male in my situation would. Definitely. He [Dominic West] definitely gets more than me. I mean, I don’t know what the figure is, but I’m sure he does.”
— The A.V. Club (@TheAVClub) August 6, 2018
Wilson says that it’s a tough discussion to have, and she never discussed the pay disparity with West or anyone else on the cast.
“It’s quite hard to bring that up in a way. But it needs to be an open discussion and men need to help us out.”
But when asked why Ruth Wilson was leaving at such a critical point in The Affair, showrunner Sarah Treem said that Wilson asked to leave with no mention of pay issues.
“Ruth wanted to leave the show. That was a request, so that was decided basically before we started writing. 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 said that fans should stay tuned to see what they think happened to Alison versus what really happened.
It’s unclear whether Wilson will still be seen in flashbacks, and how the story will continue without her, but she will not return in any capacity for the series finale, Season 5, next year.