Susan Morse, Soap
Opera Digest, 1988
Very often, we commend Santa Barbara for being one of the hippest, wittiest and most amusing soaps on the air. But it's not all fun and games. Recently, Santa Barbara aired a scene in which Eden Castillo was brutally raped. In fact, the scene was so grisly, so realistically depicted, it left viewers numb. Taping the episode was not either for either Marcy Walker, who portrays Eden, or anyone else involved. Director Rob Schiller shares his thoughts.
Planning the scene : «I knew this would be one of those shows that doesn't come along very often. I have a young child at home, and I wanted to make sure I had the attention I needed to plan the scene, so I sequestered myself in a motel room the night before to go over the scripts and come to terms with what we were about to do. I had discussions by phone with (Executive Producer) Jill Farren Phelps. We talked about how graphic it should or should not be. Originally, the script had more violence in it, but we made some cuts. We determined what the audience could bear, and what we could bear.»
Shooting the scene : «The rape scene had a huge impact on all of us. I don't feel it was too graphic because rape is a violent crime - not a sexual crime - and it's important to display some aspect of that. To delete the violence and make the scene pristine would be an injustice to anyone who is a victim of this crime. I applaud the producers for allowing me to get this episode aired as conceived, for not editing out all the violence, and for creating such an impact on viewers - for better or worse. I think the result made viewers uncomfortable but compelled to watch. Jill pretty much left things up to me. Her main concern was that she didn't want to see anything too graphic. So, we shot the action from a high, wide angle - with closeups of Marcy after she was brutalized. We placed the cameras in a wide circle around Marcy. The effect was confusing and disorienting, and it also masked some of the violence.»
Reaction : «We started shooting at eight-thirty in the morning and we wrapped about four o'clock in the afternoon. We couldn't rush Marcy through this scene. We knew we were dealing with a delicate situation, plus Marcy is pregnant. We used a double for the more violent stunts - but for all the emotional stuff, Marcy was right there. We didn't feel it was a show that should be rushed. We needed to keep Marcy emotionally intact.»
«Marcy is such a professional. She was always concerned about how the total view of the rape was coming across - not just her performance. I commend this show and Marcy for pulling off a topic that is so delicate and doing it with great aplomb and dignity. Jill had some reservations about having her lead character tarnished in this manner - but my feeling is that even though viewers get angry, that response is better than no response. The whole point is to make people angry, and to get people talking. We don't often get a chance to do that on soaps.»