Ellen Barkin Recalls Alleged On-Set Harassment from 'Sea of Love' Director Harold Becker

Ellen Barkin opened up to HuffPost about her past experiences on set and how Rian Johnson's 'Poker Face' finally made her feel "relaxed and safe"

Actress Ellen Barkin attends the premiere of TNT's "Animal Kingdom" at The Rose Room on June 8, 2016 in Venice, California.
Photo: Allen Berezovsky/WireImage

Ellen Barkin is opening up about her alleged mistreatment in Hollywood.

In an interview with HuffPost, the actress, 68, revealed that filming Rian Johnson's new TV series Poker Face was the first time she ever felt safe on a film set.

"I was never taken care of like this. Never," said Barkin, who described the working environment on the murder mystery drama as "very safe."

Barkin added that throughout her career, she faced a series of challenges that threatened her safety while on set. She alleged this included a "very difficult" scene from 1989's Sea of Love where she was fully naked, with only an artificial covering known as a merkin covering her private parts.

"What was I going to do when Harold Becker on Sea of Love walks over and literally rips my merkin off, taking some pubic hair with him and saying: 'What do you need this for? Nobody's looking at you,'" Barkin told HuffPost about her alleged mistreatment on the set.

Ellen Barkin. Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images for TNT

Three years earlier, while auditioning for her role in The Big Easy, Barkin alleged the film's producer made disparaging comments about her appearance right in front of her while the director, Jim McBride, fought for her part.

"The producer said in front of me, 'She looks like a girl who could give you a disease,'" Barkin told HuffPost.

This attitude led her into being "typecast first as the ugly girlfriend," added Barkin, who cited a "cringey" 1993 New York Times article to HuffPost that ascribed her lack of Hollywood "It Girl" success to her being "difficult" on set and having "an attitude problem."

"I went right into the voracious sex symbol, and then I went to mean old lady. So it makes perfect sense — man's view of me," Barkin added.

Once she was cast as "the object of desire," Barkin said, "all the good parts went out the window."

Despite this, the Oceans 13 star told HuffPost that she still believed she had "an easy time" compared to other actresses. After years of playing roles she didn't enjoy, Poker Face also reignited her excitement for acting.

SEA OF LOVE, from left: Ellen Barkin, Al Pacino, 1989
Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

"I haven't felt that way since doing Ocean's with my friend George Clooney, because I knew nothing was going to happen to me bad," she told HuffPost. "You just go into the safest environment."

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Now, Barkin is keen to find more television opportunities that mimic the atmosphere of comfort and safety.

"What I really want is just a nice TV show to go to work every day like a person," she said, adding that she likes meeting new people and making friends on new projects.

"I could live without the domineering," she added. "I could deal without all those men."

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