Canadian actor Rachel McAdams joined the growing chorus of celebrities sharing their stories of sexual harassment in Hollywood yesterday, with a story in Vanity Fair detailing her experience with director James Toback.
Per McAdams’ first-person account, she was a 21-year-old theatre student when Toback invited her to audition for his movie Harvard Man in 1999. After an initial meeting, he called her that evening and asked her to come for a second audition in his hotel room (not wanting to meet at his hotel, she asked if they could meet at some other time, but he insisted). When she arrived, she says Toback disclosed that he had masturbated countless times that day while thinking about her, and later asked her to show him her pubic hair. She refused, and eventually was able to excuse herself — but says she has carried a lot of shame about the incident ever since.
“When I went home, I just couldn’t sleep,” McAdams says in the Vanity Fair article. “I got up very early in the morning and called my agent at the time. And she was outraged. She was very sorry. But she also said, ‘I can’t believe he did it again. . . . He did this to one of my other actresses.’ 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.”
Actor Selma Blair shared a similar, even more horrifying story about the director in the same article: Blair says that she was also invited to audition for Harvard Man, and also invited to Toback’s hotel room. There, she says she was pressured to take off her shirt while she read from a script. Later, he asked her to have sex with him, and when she said no, she says he pressured her to let him dry hump her leg until he ejaculated in his pants. Blair says she thought, “Well, if I can get out of here without being raped…”
Toback is one of a growing list of powerful men accused of harassment since the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke. More than 200 women have come forward with allegations against Toback since the Los Angeles Times published a story about his predatory behaviour on Oct. 22 (Times reporter Glenn Whipp says that number has now risen to over 300). Toback has denied the allegations.