“I am stepping back from my film and streaming projects in addition to my work on Broadway. I am doing so to take the time to work on personal issues I should have long ago,” said Rudin, who counts such films as “The Truman Show,” “The Social Network” and “No Country For Old Men” among his credits. “I am profoundly sorry for the pain my behavior has caused and I take this step with a commitment to grow and change.” He did not elaborate on what form the step-back would take creatively or financially.
The moves come after the Hollywood Reporter earlier this month detailed a pattern of alleged employee abuse by the New York-based producer, including allegedly breaking a computer monitor over the hand of an assistant, resulting in a trip to the emergency room, along with other alleged violations in which staffers reported feeling threatened or afraid.
A spokeswoman for Rudin, Alice McGillion, did not provide further comment on the Hollywood Reporter’s allegations after being asked by The Washington Post.
A producer of prestige material featuring major stars, Rudin has been nominated for the best-picture Oscar nine times, a number second only to Steven Spielberg, who has 10 nominations. He won once, for “No Country” in 2008. (The best-picture Oscar is given to a film’s producers.)
As a result of the allegations, The Post has learned, A24 — the boutique company with whom Rudin has collaborated on a host of recent pictures including the award-decorated “Lady Bird” and “Uncut Gems” — won’t work with him on future projects, according to a person familiar with the company’s plans who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the discussions, but projects already far along in the pipeline are expected to move forward without him.
That list includes the Shakespeare adaptation “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” directed by frequent Rudin collaborator Joel Coen that is currently being edited; the Jennifer Lawrence movie “Red, White and Water” that has already been shot; and a film from Alex Garland, “Men,” currently being shot. It is unclear to what degree Rudin will choose to step away creatively or financially from those films, and what action A24 would take to keep him at a remove.
An A24 spokeswoman declined to comment.
The moves amount to a slow-motion accounting for a producer who over the years has been the subject of intra-industry accounts of aggressive behavior, particularly involving his assistants.
The Hollywood Reporter chronicled a list of alleged abuses, including an assistant who alleged that Rudin threw a teacup at the wall; another assistant who said Rudin threw a baked potato at his head; and a former employee who alleged he saw the producer throw a stapler at a theater assistant and called him a mental health slur.
“Every day was exhausting and horrific,” the former employee, Ryan Nelson, said.
The publication described a culture in which people struggle working for Rudin but are also afraid to leave for fear he will blacklist them.
To date, there has been little reaction to the claims from Hollywood’s talent, business or financing communities in the nearly two weeks since the Reporter story was published. Rudin remains heavily influential, and it is unclear if the story will lead to the same backlash as claims of abuse against other noted entertainment figures.
Creators who have often worked with Rudin include Aaron Sorkin, Noah Baumbach, Wes Anderson and the Coen brothers. Among the many actors to do so are Kate Winslet, Ben Stiller, Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand, who is married to Joel Coen. None have spoken publicly about the allegations since the story was published. McDormand and Sorkin are both nominated at this year’s Oscars, which will be broadcast live on ABC Sunday.
The Rudin allegations shine a light on the freewheeling culture of top-tier producers, who are often their own bosses with little corporate oversight. Their success in the industry instead relies on the willingness of outside players — directors, financiers, actors, studios — willing to work with them.
Megan Ellison, the producer-financier and founder of Annapurna Pictures who has collaborated with Rudin, was among the few to comment, tweeting shortly after the Reporter’s publication that it “barely scratches the surface of Scott Rudin’s abusive, racist, and sexist behavior,” noting that “similarly to Harvey [Weinstein], too many are afraid to speak out. I support and applaud those who did. There’s good reason to be afraid because he’s vindictive and has no qualms about lying.” But many others in the film community have stayed silent.
David Graham-Caso, whose twin brother Kevin worked as an assistant for Rudin in 2008 and 2009 and who committed suicide last year, has been active on Twitter calling for entertainment executives and talent to stop working with the producer.
On Sunday, he posted a video addressing Rudin.
“You abused him severely. You berated and demeaned, bullied and intimidated and harassed him for eight solid months,” Graham-Caso, who is deputy chief of staff and communications director for Los Angeles City Council member Mike Bonin, said of his brother. “It was so traumatic and intense he developed anxiety and depression and post-traumatic stress.”
Graham-Caso’s video had garnered more than half a million views by Monday night.
In a phone interview Monday, David Graham-Caso said he has heard from some of those who have been critical of Rudin, including Ellison. Neither he nor his brother had had any contact with Rudin since 2009. He said his brother had seen Rudin across the room at a Broadway event for Rudin’s “The Book of Mormon” the year after he stopped working at the company; he ran out of the room in what David Graham-Caso described as a cold sweat.
Kevin Graham-Caso, his brother said, would go on to work for director Jody Hill and producer Brian Grazer; he was also a screenwriter who had written a script that had been a quarterfinalist at the Nicholl Fellowships, a set of grants handed out by the motion picture academy. But, David Graham-Caso said, he saw crippling levels of anxiety and depression in his brother after he left Rudin. “He was a completely different person,” said Graham-Caso.
Graham-Caso, who criticized Rudin’s step-back plans as being vague and motivated by publicity concerns, said he was going public in the hope of achieving a broader awareness.
“If a producer realizes because of Kevin’s story they can’t get away with this and it saves the next person in a similar position, then I think that would make Kevin’s memory incredibly meaningful,” Graham-Caso said.
McGillion, the Rudin spokeswoman, did not provide comment on the Graham-Caso allegations after being asked by The Post.
While Rudin has often been publicly beloved by talent for advocating on their behalf, studio executives have sometimes balked at his approach. One veteran executive, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they feared reprisal, said that they were often taken aback by Rudin’s manner of speaking even to executives, as well as his tight control over publicity plans and demands on marketing budgets, two areas producers customarily are less involved with.
Over the years Rudin has also targeted press he deems unfriendly, blocking access on his projects to reporters who have published stories, sometimes many years before, that Rudin thought did not treat him fairly. In 2013, one such standoff reached the public when Rudin bought an ad in the New York Times because he took issue with how Patrick Healy, the paper’s current politics editor who was then covering Broadway, had written about the closing of his show “The Testament of Mary.”
“’Let’s give a big cuddly shout-out to Pat Healy, infant provocateur and amateur journalist at the New York Times. Keep it up, Pat — one day perhaps you’ll learn something about how Broadway works, and maybe even understand it.’-Scott Rudin,” the producer wrote in a fake blurb that appeared in the paper.
Early last decade, Rudin made many movies with Sony, including “Captain Phillips,” “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” “Steve Jobs” and “The Social Network.” But his work with the studio slowed with a change of leadership at the studio in 2015.
Other large companies also have pulled back in recent years.
Disney’s Searchlight Pictures, which has worked on a number of Rudin projects over the years, has done less with Rudin as of late. The next movie it is making that involves Rudin is the new Wes Anderson film, “The French Dispatch,” in which Rudin is credited with the lesser title of executive producer, in contrast to the producer title he has held on Anderson’s seven previous movies.
A spokeswoman for Searchlight declined to comment for this story.
While he has continued to work with longtime filmmaker partners like Anderson and the Coen brothers, Rudin has also focused in recent years on more indie films such as “Eighth Grade,” a lower-budget drama about a young woman trying to find her way in a modern middle school that Rudin made with A24 in 2017.
Netflix, which is set to release his Amy Adams-starring thriller “The Woman In the Window” next month, will continue releasing the work, according to a person familiar with the company’s plans who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about them publicly, with Rudin’s name still attached as a producer. Netflix did not make the movie; it was made by Fox, came over in the Disney acquisition and bought by the streamer during the pandemic.
A Netflix spokeswoman declined to comment.
In the past, Hollywood companies have reacted to alleged abuse by actors by recasting or even reshooting their material, as Sony did with the J. Paul Getty drama “All the Money In The World” when Kevin Spacey was accused of sexual misconduct in 2017. But such maneuvers are more difficult in a situation where the accused is not in front of the camera and their involvement is why the film exists in the first place.
Broadway personalities have been a little more outspoken. Karen Olivo, a prominent stage actress, said she would not return to a production of “Moulin Rouge,” with which Rudin is not involved, because of the industry’s accommodation of him. On Monday, Sutton Foster, star of “Music Man,” called Rudin’s step-back a “positive outcome” and described “an unbelievably unfortunate situation.”
Activists such as the Time’s Up Foundation’s Tina Tchen have also spoken out against the producer.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to the brave employees who came forward with allegations of workplace bullying and harassment against Scott Rudin. For far too long, this abusive behavior has been a stepping stone to success in Hollywood and on Broadway — but those days are over,” Tchen said in a statement, calling for employees to be released from nondisclosure agreements.
“No one should have to endure the kind of abhorrent mistreatment that has been reported and live under fear of retaliation,” Tchen said.