Published Oct 27, 2017Following the deluge of allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein earlier this month, a number of Hollywood stars have been speaking up about their own experiences with sexual harassment and assault in the industry. This week, 38 women accused director James Toback of sexual harassment, though the number has since ballooned to more than 200 — and now, actresses Rachel McAdams and Selma Blair have lent their voices to the growing chorus of women accusing Toback of inappropriate behaviour.
The onscreen stars spoke to Vanity Fair about their disturbing encounters with the 72-year-old Oscar-winning director.
Blair says that she set up a meeting with Toback to discuss a potential role in Harvard Man. When she arrived at the hotel restaurant as planned, she says that the hostess told her Toback wanted her to go up to his room. Blair says that once she arrived at his hotel room, the director insisted that she perform her prepared monologue naked. Despite her protests ("Why would my character need to be naked? She is a lawyer in a courtroom"), she acquiesced to his request.
Blair says that after the monologue, Toback propositioned her for sex and started touching himself through his pants. When Blair tried to leave, she says Toback blocked the door and told her: "You have to do this for me. You cannot leave until I have release." She alleges that he proceeded sit her down on the bed, get on his knees and press himself up against her leg, forcing her to maintain eye contact the entire time.
Once he finished, Blair claims that Toback threatened her life. He told her a story about "a girl who went against me" — explaining that if that girl ever told anyone about what happened between them, "I have people who will pull up in a car, kidnap her, and throw her in the Hudson River with cement blocks on her feet."
When Blair's manager called her back and said that Toback wanted to meet with her again, she said, "That man is vile. And I never want to be in a room with him again. Do not send any girls or women to him."
McAdams also detailed her disturbing encounters with Toback. When she was a 21-year-old theatre student in Toronto, she also attended a meeting with Toback for a potential role in Harvard Man. He invited her to his hotel to "workshop" for her audition, insisting that it happen that very evening, as he was leaving town in the morning. Nervous about a TV job starting the next day and uncomfortable about meeting at a hotel, McAdams nevertheless went to meet him.
She says that when she arrived, he had books and magazine all over the floor and asked her to sit down, then told her: "I have masturbated countless times today thinking about you since we met at your audition."
McAdams continues to say that he manipulated her by using theatre school language about building trust and intimacy, being brave and asked her how far she was willing to go as an actress. She says that he also made her read reviews of his work out loud to him, leaving her with more literature to read when he excused himself to use the bathroom. She says that when he returned, he said, "I just jerked off in the bathroom thinking about you."
When he asked, "Will you show me your pubic hair?" McAdams said no, then eventually excused herself from the room. "I was very lucky that I left and he didn't actually physically assault me in any way," she said.
McAdams also admitted that the incident has been "a source of shame for me" because "I didn't have the wherewithal to get up and leave" — instead trying to convince herself that the workshop would turn into an actual rehearsal or audition. "Eventually I just realized that it wasn't," she adds.
When McAdams called her agent the next morning, she was outraged and allegedly told the actress, "I can't believe he did it again. This isn't the first time that this has happened. He did this the last time that he was in town. He did this to one of my other actresses."
According to McAdams, "That is when I got mad, because I felt like I was kind of thrown into the lion's den and given no warning that he was a predator. This was something that he was known for doing already. I was so surprised to hear that."
Read Blair and McAdams' complete accounts of their encounters with Toback here via Vanity Fair.