In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sex scandal in Hollywood, more victims of sexual assault and harassment are speaking out against their abusers.
Actresses Selma Blair and Rachel McAdams are among 300 women who have accused movie director James Toback of assault, harassment, and a host of other unwanted sexual advances.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Blair recalled her experience with the director. She said she was scheduled to meet with Toback at a restaurant seeking an audition for his movie “Harvard Man.” When she arrived, she was instructed by the hostess when she arrived to go up to his private room. Against her better judgment, she agreed to go.
“I went in the room feeling a little off-balance about the arrangement, but he seemed nonplussed,” Blair told Vanity Fair. “He pulled out the script and said, ‘I look at you, and I see that we have a real connection. You could be an incredible actress, just by your eyes. But I can tell you don’t have confidence.’”
“It was about 40 minutes in and he said, ‘Will you trust me? I cannot continue to work with you unless you trust me,’” she continued. “He said, ‘I need you to take your clothes off. I need you to do this monologue naked.’ I said, ‘Why would my character need to be naked? She is a lawyer in a courtroom.’ He said, ‘Because I need to see how your body moves. How comfortable you are with your body. This is where I start training you.’”
When Blair refused to acquiesce to his suggestions, she says Toback convinced her to take off her clothes because it was part of the training. She says that when she refused to have sex with him, he allegedly blocked the door and told her he had to have some “release” to make it through the day. She says she was hoping he wouldn’t rape her, and allowed him to rub himself against her body.
“He walked me back to the bed. He sat me down. He got on his knees. And he continued to press so hard against my leg. He was greasy and I had to look into those big brown eyes,” said Blair. “I tried to look away, but he would hold my face. So I was forced to look into his eyes. And I felt disgust and shame, and like nobody would ever think of me as being clean again after being this close to the devil. His energy was so sinister.”
Blair said that after he finished, the director allegedly threatened her that if she spoke a word of what happened to anyone, he would have her murdered.
The actress, who is best known for starring in the Hellboy movies, said that she hadn’t spoken up until now because she was scared for her life. “But then these brave women spoke out, and he called them liars and said he didn’t recall meeting them . . . that [the] behavior alleged was disgusting and it could not be attributed to him. I just felt rage. Pure rage,” she said.
Rachel McAdams also shared her story with Vanity Fair, with accusations that line up with other experiences women shared in the Los Angeles Times’ expose against the Hollywood director.
The Sherlock Holmes actress said that the director gave her some lines to read and tried to coax her into building a “trusting relationship” with him in his private room. She was under the impression that it was supposed to be a rehearsal.
“He started that kind of manipulative talk of, ‘How brave are you? How far you are willing to go as an actress? I want to build some intimacy between us because we have to have a very trusting relationship and this is a very difficult part,’” the McAdams said. “Then he asked me to read passages out loud from different reviews of his films and different critics talking about his work. It was all so confusing. I kept thinking, ‘When are we getting to the rehearsal part?’ Then he went to the bathroom and left me with some literature to read about him. When he came back he said, ‘I just jerked off in the bathroom thinking about you. Will you show me your pubic hair?’ I said no.”
McAdams said that she was able to leave after the experience, and was thankful that he didn’t assault her. The actress said that when she told her agent about it, her agent was very sorry, but added that she knew it wasn’t the first time Toback had done this to a woman.
“This has all got to stop,” said McAdams. “We need to start acknowledging what an epidemic this is, and what a deep-seated problem this is.”