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‘Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights’ Star Romola Garai: Producers Body-Shamed Me

Romola Garai and Diego Luna in 2004's Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights
Romola Garai and Diego Luna in 2004’s’ Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights’ Miramax/courtesy Everett Collection

Not a happy memory. Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights star Romola Garai claims that producers body-shamed her while filming the 2004 romantic drama.

Garai, now 34, was in her early twenties when she played Katey Miller in the Guy Ferland-directed movie opposite Diego Luna. She called the atmosphere “a cesspit of horrific misogyny” and said that she was weighed every day. A dietician was also flown in to make sure that she was underweight during the entire production.

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“It screwed me up for years,” Garai told The Guardian in an interview, which was published on Sunday, April 16. “Not only did it completely change how I felt about my body, but I felt like I’d failed because I hadn’t fought back. I felt complicit, because I didn’t say no. I signed off on Photoshopped images and felt terrible for perpetrating this … lie.”

At one point, a female producer even pointed at Garai’s thighs and commented, “This isn’t good enough.”

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The difficult experience led Garai to quit acting for some time. “I did a bit of modeling when I was a teenager and, even then, nobody asked me to lose weight,” she recalled. “It’s different with film, because it’s not about weight, it’s about control. It’s an industry with a clear agenda of ensuring women’s relationships with their reflection on screen make them feel inadequate. I never went back to Hollywood again.”

Garai has continued to add some film and TV projects to her résumé, however, and more recently appeared in the TV miniseries Born to Kill. Still, she’s continued to be criticized for her appearance.

Romola Garai attends the IWC Schaffhausen Dinner in Honour of the BFI at Rosewood London on October 4, 2016 in London, England.
Romola Garai attends the IWC Schaffhausen Dinner in Honour of the BFI at Rosewood London on October 4, 2016, in London. David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for IWC Schaffhausen

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“I’ve had sporadic acne in my life and have extraordinary conversations with them about how I can’t have spots on screen, telling me about the drugs I should take,” she told The Guardian. “There’s this idea that in order to propagate visions women aspire to, you have to make other women feel bad.”

In a separate incident on another, unnamed film, a female director asked her to be “delicate” with the way she spoke with her male costar because he’s “challenged” by aggressive women. “I said: ‘I can’t tell you how hard that will be for me. I am not that kind of person.’ There are hundreds of misogynistic directors, but an equal number who are not. It’s a mistake to make it a gender split. That’s not helped the cause.”

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