This post has been updated.
Ever since the allegations of serial abuse by Harvey Weinstein blew up, a tidal wave of women — plus a few men — in Hollywood have shared their own troubling tales involving high-powered producers, directors and executives.
The #MeToo stories spreading across Twitter and Facebook show that just about every woman has their own personal nightmare, and A-list actresses are no exception. Reese Witherspoon, for example, used her speech at the Elle Women in Hollywood event Monday night to reveal that a director sexually assaulted her when she was just 16. That was the first time it happened to her, she said, though not the last.
“After hearing all the stories these past few days and hearing these brave women speak up tonight about things that we’re kind of told to sweep under the rug and not to talk about, it’s made me want to speak up and speak up loudly because I actually felt less alone this week than I have ever felt in my entire career,” she said, according to People.
She’s not alone. America Ferrera acknowledged that a man sexually assaulted her when she was 9 years old. The actress shared her story in an Instagram post, during which she urged women to “break the silence” to help future generations.
Jennifer Lawrence added her own anecdotes to the growing list. At the same Elle-sponsored event, the Oscar winner talked about being part of a humiliating nude lineup. As a way to shame her into losing weight for a role, she was forced to stand beside much thinner women, then photographed. A female producer suggested Lawrence use the picture as weight-loss “inspiration.”
When she complained to another producer about it, “he said he didn’t know why everyone thought I was so fat,” according to Lawrence. “He thought I was ‘perfectly f—able.’ ”
On Tuesday, Ilana Glazer added her own story to Instagram, saying that she’s been sexually harassed more times than she can count. Even once the “Broad City” star enjoyed a place of power on a set where she’s a producer, she was still targeted by men. She ended up firing two of them — a background actor and a sound guy. People on set questioned her decision, she said, but she didn’t back down.
“Getting sexually harassed seems to be a constant,” she wrote, “but having the opportunity to do something about it is rare.”
Over the weekend, Bjork took to Facebook to talk about a Danish director who she claimed sexually harassed her. Given that the singer hasn’t starred in many movies, it didn’t take Internet sleuths long to surmise she was implicating her “Dancer in the Dark” director Lars Von Trier. Even without being explicitly named, Von Trier defended himself in an interview with the Danish outlet Jyllands-Posten.
“That was not the case,” he said of the allegations. “But that we were definitely not friends, that’s a fact.”
Monday, in another Facebook post, Bjork gave more details about her alleged experience, including six troubling episodes that ranged from graphic sexual advances to unwanted hugging in front of the cast and crew, which sometimes lasted for uncomfortably long periods of time.
“When after two months of this I said he had to stop the touching, he exploded and broke a chair in front of everyone on set,” she wrote. “Like someone who has always been allowed to fondle his actresses. Then we all got sent home.”
Few of the actors and actresses to come forward since the Weinstein bombshell have named their abusers. Not Terry Crews, who wrote on Twitter that he was groped by a Hollywood executive, nor actor-director Sarah Polley, who was propositioned by Weinstein but also humiliated by other directors and producers.
One exception is Isa Hackett, a producer for “The Man in the High Castle,” who went public last week with her story about Amazon Studios chief Roy Price, who she alleges sexually harassed her. Price was suspended by the company.
Victims have the right to tell their stories with or without naming names, but when they reveal certain details, it creates a bizarre “blind item” guessing game. It didn’t take long for people to figure out who Bjork was talking about, and Witherspoon only worked with so many directors when she was 16. Maybe it would even be possible to whittle down a list of all the female producers Lawrence has worked with.
Likewise, producer Heather Ross told her own story on a Tucson radio show last week. An Oscar-winning producer sexually assaulted her in his car when she was starting out, she recalled. Her friend, the late Carrie Fisher, defended her honor by hand-delivering a Tiffany box to the man, who opened the present and was horrified to find a cow tongue inside.
Ross divulged certain clues about the man — the Oscar nomination, the office at Sony Pictures — without naming him. She also told a story about a big-time director she once thought the world of, until a friend warned that he had raped her.
For now many abusers are safe in their anonymity, though maybe not for long. These stories are everywhere, it seems, and the revelations are only just beginning.