Actors Selma Blair and Rachel McAdams have detailed how they were allegedly harassed by writer and director James Toback in a Vanity Fair report, joining the list of more than 200 women who have accused him of sexual misconduct over the last week. On October 22, the Los Angeles Times broke the news of sexual harassment allegations against Toback after 38 women – with 31 of them going on record – spoke about their experiences to the newspaper. Many more women have since come out with stories of Toback’s criminal behaviour.
Blair said she was one of the women who had spoken to the Los Angeles Times, but did not want to be named at the time.
Both Blair and McAdams narrated similar experiences with Toback, saying he requested them to meet him in hotel rooms and flattered them before making sexually inappropriate suggestions.
Toback allegedly invited Blair to his hotel room in the late 1990s for an audition and asked her to have sex with him. When she refused to, he ejaculated in his pants after pressing hard against her leg, she alleged. She claimed Toback scared her into silence by threatening her with her life.
“I didn’t want to speak up because, it sounds crazy but, even until now, I have been scared for my life,” Blair told Vanity Fair. “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.”
McAdams alleged that Toback invited her to a hotel room to audition for a role in The Harvard Man and asked her to show him her pubic hair. “Eventually, I just excused myself. I can’t remember how long I was there. I felt like I was there forever,” McAdams told Vanity Fair. “This has been such a source of shame for me – that I didn’t have the wherewithal to get up and leave.” The actor added that she was “very lucky” that the director did not “actually physically assault” her in any way.
Toback’s films include Fingers (1978), The Pick-up Artist (1987) and The Big Bang (1989). He was nominated for the Academy Award for best original screenplay for Barry Levinson’s Bugsy (1991).
The Toback row comes in the wake of similar allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, who has been accused of sexually harassing numerous female actors and assistants for decades. Following the allegations, the producer was removed from The Weinstein Company, which he co-founded with his brother Bob. He was also expelled from the Producers Guild of America, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Academy will be establishing a new code of conduct for its members after multiple accusations of sexual harassment, Deadline reported.