Michael Douglas took the unusual step of revealing he has been accused of inappropriate behavior before the allegation went public.
In an interview with Deadline published Tuesday, the actor, 73, vehemently denied what he says are a former employee’s claims that he “masturbated in front of” her 32 years ago and that he “spoke raunchily, or dirtily” on the phone in front of her in conversations with friends.
“I will fess up to colorful language, but the issue of masturbating in front of her? … This is a complete lie, fabrication, no truth to it whatsoever,” said Douglas, who is married to actress Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Douglas also said he eventually fired the woman “for the work she was doing” but denies what he says are her claims he “blackballed her from the industry.” Douglas said he had been contacted about the woman’s allegations by a journalist from The Hollywood Reporter.
“It’s extremely painful. I pride myself on my reputation in this business, not to mention the long history of my father and everything else. I don’t have skeletons in my closet, or anyone else who’s coming out or saying this,” he recalled of his first reaction when he was told about the accusation.
“I tried to figure out, why the hell would somebody do this? The part that hurt the worst is having to share something like this to your wife and your children. My kids are really upset, [they have had] to go to school worrying this is going to be in some article about me, being a sexual harasser. They’re scared and very uncomfortable,” the two-time Oscar winner continued.
Though he acknowledged that he is potentially summoning scrutiny, Douglas said he preferred to have control over the narrative.
“I felt the need to get ahead of this. It pertains to me but I’m also getting a sense of how it reflects in our culture, and what is going on today. I see it as a cautionary tale,” he explained.
“I had the choice of waiting for a story to come out, one that will clearly get picked up by other newspapers and magazines, and then I have to sit there and try to defend myself. Or, try to share with the public, a little ahead of the story, my thoughts and concerns,” he also said.
“Again, I am sorry if I used coarse language with my friends. But this is really debilitating. It can have a large effect on my career. And also, I think it really sends a message out.”
In addition, he said he stands by the many women who have spoken out against abusive men in Hollywood like Harvey Weinstein, and in other industries, documented by publications like The New York Times and The New Yorker.
“I support the #metoo movement with all my heart. I have always supported women, along the way. This is the kind of step that can set that movement back,” Douglas said.
“Being accused, without a chance [to defend yourself] in court. To not even really have the information in front of you, to be able to argue or defend yourself. There is no due process, no chance of seeing evidence in front of me from my accuser. It worries me.”