Jessica Knoll made the decision not to be present for the filming of a rape scene in her new movie - a scene deeply personal to the writer who previously revealed she's a sexual assault survivor.
The bestselling author recently began production in Toronto on the film adaptation of her debut novel Luckiest Girl Alive. In addition to writing the screenplay, she also executive produces. When it came time to film a flashback rape scene involving the main character this week, Knoll opted not to be on set to watch.
"The reason I'm not on set today and tomorrow, well it's a closed set because we're filming the sexual assault scene, but I could've been there if i wanted to, and I thought i wanted to because I'm a f------ control freak," Knoll, 37, said in a video on her Instagram Story Wednesday. "But now that I'm actually here and I thought about it a little more, I just realized the potential for it to make the actors really self-conscious and uncomfortable that I'm there was high."
"I wanted everyone to be able to do their job and not feel like my eyes are on them," she added. "And also, I just thought that everyone would be looking at me wondering if I am okay, and that would make me super anxious."
Knoll explained that she "never expected" to feel "so completely okay with not being there" for the pivotal sequence, but expressed that it was in good hands with director Mike Barker. As she put it, "I trust him implicitly."
Luckiest Girl Alive was published in 2015. In a March 2016 essay, Knoll revealed that she was gang-raped as a teen much like her book's protagonist, Ani FaNelli. In the Netflix movie version, Mila Kunis stars as Ani (the actress cast to play high-school aged Ani has not yet been announced).
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"The first person to tell me I was gang-raped was a therapist, seven years after the fact," Knoll began the emotional essay at the time. "The second was my literary agent, five years later, only she wasn't talking about me. She was talking about Ani, the protagonist of my novel, Luckiest Girl Alive, which is a work of fiction. What I've kept to myself, up until today, is that its inspiration is not."
"I've been running and I've been ducking and I've been dodging because I'm scared," she continued. "I'm scared people won't call what happened to me rape because for a long time, no one did."
Knoll - who also wrote 2019's The Favorite Sister - went on to detail the similar events that happened to her in real life, as well as the shame, confusion and heartache that followed it. Once she fully understood the truth about what she survived, she said she was ready to confront it.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to rainn.org.