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How Sex Education's Aimee Lou Wood and Gillian Anderson Tackled "Relatable" Assault Storyline

Sex Education's Aimee Lou Wood and Gillian Anderson discuss their "emotional" scenes together in the third season of the Netflix series.

By Cydney Contreras Sep 19, 2021 5:00 PMTags
Watch: "Sex Education" Star Aimee Lou Wood Talks Facing Trauma

Netflix's Sex Education may feature hookups, vagina cupcakes and an uncomfortable bathroom scene, but the show is so much bigger than its comedic moments.

In season three, the writers and cast go beyond the surface level to bring attention to incredibly important topics, like sexual assault and consent. One such storyline is Aimee's decision to seek counseling from Dr. Jean Milburn (Gillian Anderson) after she's sexually assaulted on a bus in season two. 

Actress Aimee Lou Wood spoke exclusively to E! News about why it was "really emotional" to revisit her character's sexual assault. "It was so embarrassing. The other week I had an interview, and it was about therapy; they said, 'What was it like doing the scenes with Gillian?'" she recalled. "And I started talking about it and then all of a sudden I was in tears. It wasn't like I was actually sad but it's almost like muscle memory."

Aimee believes that she reacted so viscerally because the character's emotional turmoil is so "relatable" and "true to life."

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Sex Education Season 3 Photos

"There are things that happen to us in our lives that just stay with us forever," she explained, "and they change us, and it's really emotional playing someone who is going through such tectonic shifts within herself."

Aimee shared that one of the most impactful moments of this storyline was when Jean told her character that after going through something so traumatic, "You're not going to be the old you anymore."

Sam Taylor/Netflix

"I think it's really hard to hear, but it's also really liberating at the same time," Aimee reflected, adding that her character really wanted "to hold on to this person that she was before this thing happened to her and it's actually like, it's not going to happen."

In a separate interview with E! News, Gillian added that she was glad Aimee's character turned to Jean during this difficult time, because, as Aimee noted, she "initially wanted to brush it off as being nothing, which I think a lot of women do."

"She was supported by her friends, specifically Maeve encouraging her to take it seriously and report it," The Crown actress continued. "We get to see the impact that it has on so many different aspects of her life after that."

Sam Taylor/Netflix

One effect this had on Aimee was that she finally voiced how she felt, even though one of her "biggest fears in the world is having an argument." And through this was "uncomfortable" for the character, Aimee said it led to amazing "growth."

"She's really gone into the pain and come out with the truth and out with this new kind of strength," Aimee remarked.

Gillian, who is nominated for a 2021 Emmy, praised Aimee for being a "really wonderful actress," adding, "I think that whole storyline was really very well handled."

The X Files actress also touched on her own character's storyline, sharing that she had nearly 10 months between starring as Margaret Thatcher in The Crown and Jean Milburn in Sex Education, giving her more than enough time to switch between the "two very, very different" characters.

She joked, "There's so much [Thatcher] wouldn't approve of in Sex Ed. She'd find some way to get it off the air, I imagine."

Season three of Sex Education is streaming now on Netflix.

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