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Westworld sex scene controversy: HBO says it will rectify concerns

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John P. Johnson/HBO

HBO has distanced itself from a controversial consent form given to background actors for the upcoming sci-fi series Westworld asking them to agree to scenes featuring nudity and graphic sexual situations.

“The document that the background actors were given was created by an outside extras casting vendor,” HBO said in a statement to EW. “It was not requested, written or approved by HBO, Warner Bros. Television, or the producers, and contains situations that we do not require of any actor.”

The premium cable network added, “We are rectifying immediately the discrepancies in this vendor’s document with our actual on-set practices, which provide a professional and comfortable working environment for all performers.”

Earlier Wednesday, Deadline had reported that Westworld extras were asked by Central Casting to sign a document agreeing that their work on the show could require them to “appear fully nude,” “perform genital-to-genital touching,” “contort to form a table-like shape while being fully nude,” and “other assorted acts that the Project may require.”

The performers union SAG-AFTRA expressed concern over the form, issuing a member alert that “to the extent [the form] conflicts with the SAG-AFTRA Television Agreement, it is unenforceable.” The guild also sent a representative to the set Wednesday for any members who had questions.

A spokesperson for the guild told EW, “It’s important that performers understand their rights, especially in circumstances like these that pose a high risk of exploitation. Employers should not be requiring performers to sign consent forms that do not accurately describe their rights under the collective bargaining agreement.”

In response to HBO’s statement, SAG-AFTRA said, “The Union is very pleased to hear that HBO is doing the right thing now but it is disappointing that we had to take such public measures to ensure compliance with our contracts and protect our background actors.”

A spokesman for Central Casting and its parent company, Entertainment Partners, told EW that it is company policy not to comment on current client projects, citing confidentiality reasons.

Westworld is based on the 1973 film written and directed by Michael Crichton and centers on a futuristic theme park where visitors can indulge in their deepest, darkest fantasies with lifelike robots.