Rachel McAdams and Selma Blair Say Director James Toback Sexually Harassed Them: 'That Man Is Vile'
The accusations began mounting earlier this week, when the Los Angeles Times cited 38 women who alleged that the one-time Oscar-nominee had sexually harassed them over the years. More than 200 women have since come forward to the Times with similar stories.
Toback denied the allegations to the L.A. Times, claiming it would be “biologically impossible” for him to do what he was accused of because he has had diabetes and a heart condition for 22 years.
On Thursday, Blair, 45, and McAdams, 38, detailed their eerily similar experiences with Toback to Vanity Fair. “When he called these women liars, and said he didn’t recall meeting them and that the behavior alleged could not be attributed to him, I just felt rage and an obligation to speak publicly now,” Blair explained.
“I did not want to talk about this ever again,” McAdams added. “However, even though it is a really bad memory, I feel like some good could come from talking about it now.”
Selma Blair: ‘That man is vile’
Blair recalls a meeting with Toback in 1999 when he was looking for an actress to star in his new film Harvard Man, and which the director insisted take place in his hotel room. Blair says Toback asked deeply personal questions and 40 minutes into the meeting told Blair to take off her clothes and perform a monologue naked under the guise of it being an “acting exercise.”
“I took off my sweater,” Blair says. “I was so private about my body. I do remember looking down at the script and seeing my bare chest and not being able to focus on anything but the words and my face being so hot and puffy and feeling so ashamed.”
Blair says Toback told her that she had an “Eastern European” body and that she needed “a lot of work and was “a mess.” When she started to tell him she was leaving, Blair says Toback insisted she keep talking to him and “started to rub his penis through his pants and asked, ‘Would you f— me?’ ”
Blair says she told him no repeatedly and began to feel “trapped.” Toback continued trying to coerce her, he listed other actresses he had slept with and told her she couldn’t leave until he had “a release.” Blair says she told him she would not touch him in any way and Toback said that was okay because he could get his “release” by rubbing against her leg, but she had to pinch his nipples and look him in the eyes. She says he sat her down on the bed, pressed hard against her leg and forced her to look at him while he masturbated.
After he finished, Blair says Toback told her a pointed story about a girl who wanted to speak out about against him and that he threatened to have her kidnapped and tossed in the Hudson River “with cement blocks on her feet” if she ever talked about what happened between them.
Blair says she agreed not to talk about it and left the room, telling only her boyfriend what happened and made him promise not to repeat it. “My career was just starting, and I was frightened,” she explains. “I thought I was going to be kidnapped if I told anybody.”
Later, Blair says her manager told her that Toback wanted to meet again. “I 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.’ ”
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Rachel McAdams: ‘The conversation turned quite sexual’
McAdams was 21 years old and still in theater school when Toback invited her to audition for Harvard Man. After a first meeting, which McAdams remembers as a “big audition,” she says Toback told her she was “really, really talented” and that they should get together again to “rehearse a bit more.”
Later that night, McAdams says Toback invited her to his hotel room. She claims she initially protested, but ultimately gave in at his insistence.
“Pretty quickly the conversation turned quite sexual,” McAdams remembers. “He said, ‘You know, I just have to tell you. I have masturbated countless times today thinking about you since we met at your audition.’ ”
McAdams says Toback asked her how far she was willing to go for her career and later went to the bathroom and came out bragging about how he’d just masturbated while thinking about her in the room. McAdams remembers leaving the room but not how long she spent with them — she admits to feeling shame over the fact that she didn’t get up and leave immediately, but also says she is lucky that she wasn’t physically assaulted.Calling sexual harassment in Hollywood “so pervasive,” McAdams says, “This has all got to stop. We need to start acknowledging what an epidemic this is, and what a deep-seated problem this is.” She adds, “I think we almost have to exhaust ourselves sharing our experiences before the rebuilding can begin. And hopefully we never slip back into this darkness again.”