Ellen DeGeneres “proud” of wife Portia de Rossi for speaking out on sexual harassment

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Amy Swales
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The furore around the growing number of accusations against Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and other Hollywood power players continues apace, with Portia de Rossi accusing actor Steven Seagal of sexual misconduct.

Portia de Rossi has accused Under Siege actor Steven Seagal of using a callback audition to sexually harass her.

Taking to Twitter on Wednesday (8 November), the Curb Your Enthusiasm star wrote that Seagal had discussed the importance of “off-screen” chemistry, and started to get undressed.

“My final audition for a Steven Segal movie took place in his office,” she said in a tweet that has, at time of writing, been retweeted almost 20,000 times.

“He told me how important it was to have chemistry off-screen as he sat me down and unzipped his leather pants.”

Not disclosing when the audition took place, or which film it was for, de Rossi goes on to not only accuse her then-agent of glossing over the incident, but to suggest that her representative had known, or at least suspected, that Seagal would act the way he did.

“I ran out and called my agent. Unfazed, she replied, ‘Well, I didn’t know if he was your type.’”

Ellen DeGeneres has publicly supported her wife’s statement, writing simply: “I’m proud of my wife.”

As men and women continue to come forward with their experiences of sexual harassment, exposing the magnitude of the problem across industries, Hollywood in particular has seen several high-profile names accused of harassment, assault and abuse.

The claim is far from the first accusation Seagal has faced. Recently other actors have come forward, including Julianna Margulies, who alleges that she had an uncomfortable encounter in his hotel room at the behest of a female casting director.

“I got to the hotel around 10:40, and she [the casting director] wasn’t there,” she said in a radio interview. “And he was alone and he made sure that I saw his gun, which I had never seen a gun in real life.

“I got out of there unscathed […] I never was raped, and I never was harmed. I don’t know how I got out of that hotel room.”

Seagal, pictured in 2016

Correspondent and actor Lisa Guerrero told Newsweek she was asked to attend a “private rehearsal” at Seagal’s LA home and after declining – having already attended an audition in which he’d worn a dressing gown, and rejecting his invitation to join him in his dressing room on set – felt she was sidelined in a film as a result

She said she later discovered he was “notorious” for the alleged tactic, while according to a 2010 article from Movieline, actor Jenny McCarthy claimed in 1998 that she’d been asked to undress during an audition, something Seagal’s representatives reportedly called “completely false”.

Actor Rae Dawn Chong recounted similar alleged behaviour in a guest blog for The Wrap, saying Seagal asked to feel her blouse and exposed himself in a dressing gown “as if it was a mistake”.

In 2010, he was sued for sexual assault and trafficking women for sex by his former personal assistant, Kayden Nguyen, who said he used her as a “sex toy” and subjected her to a “vicious” assault.

The case was dismissed, with no reason given or details of any possible private settlement made public.

Images: Rex Features