Selma Blair has added her voice to the women publicly claiming sexual assault or harassment in Hollywood by men in power, saying that director James Toback suggested she would be killed if she spoke out.
The Cruel Intentions actor says she was motivated to discuss her experiences after Toback denied the accounts of 38 women detailed in a Los Angeles Times piece, which she initially contributed to anonymously.
Speaking to Vanity Fair, Blair alleges that in 1999, against her “better judgment”, she met Toback in his hotel room after he changed the location of a work meeting.
She says that he told her he would be her mentor, then pressured her into delivering a monologue while undressed.
When she refused to have sex with him, Blair says Toback masturbated against her leg and forced her to look at him as he did so.
Describing him as “sinister”, she alleges: “He said, ‘It’s OK. I can come in my pants. I have to rub up against your leg. You have to pinch my nipples. And you have to look into my eyes.’
“I thought, “Well, if I can get out of here without being raped […]
“He walked me back to the bed. He sat me down. He got on his knees […] I tried to look away, but he would hold my face.”
She adds: “I felt disgust and shame, and like nobody would ever think of me as being clean again.”
She then claims that Toback threatened her by saying: “There is a girl who went against me […] this is a promise, if she ever tells anybody, no matter how much time she thinks went by, I have people who will pull up in a car, kidnap her and throw her in the Hudson river with cement blocks on her feet.
“You understand what I’m talking about, right?”
She reports that he’d previously alluded to having people killed, saying, “I do it all the time. I know people.”
More than 200 women are said to have come forward with accusations about Toback since the story was published 22 October, and LA police confirmed it had taken numerous calls concerning the director.
The accusations come as part of a wider conversation about harassment, assault and sexism in the TV and film industry, following several allegations against famed producer Harvey Weinstein.
In the same Vanity Fair article, Rachel McAdams says she also had a disturbing experience in a hotel room with Toback, describing herself as “very lucky” to have left without being assaulted.
She claims the director told her “You know, I just have to tell you. I have masturbated countless times today thinking about you since we met at your audition.” She also says he left her in the bedroom to go to the bathroom, and told her he had just masturbated.
Toback denies meeting the women in the initial report, or, if he did, it “was for five minutes” and he had “no recollection”. He also told Los Angeles Times that suffering from diabetes and a heart condition meant the reports were “biologically impossible”.
In a tweet ahead of the interview, Blair had said of Toback, “He is a coward, a liar, a predator, a compulsive pervert, and a damaging asshole. Relentlessly. Systematically. Abusing young women.”
And since going public with her claims, she has called for other big names in the industry to publicly denounce the director, specifically mentioning fellow actor Alex Baldwin in a number of Twitter messages.
Baldwin had hit out online at a journalist who had written about Baldwin’s professional relationship with Toback, exploring a film the pair had made together and pointing out that Baldwin had issued no statement on the Toback allegations.
Baldwin still refused to comment, but called the writer, Kayla Cobb, “awful” and “dishonest”.
On Twitter, Blair said Baldwin’s no comment “hurt”, writing: “It could be that @AlecBaldwin honestly never saw this side of #toback. 200 women are worth a comment. One woman is worth a measly comment.”
In the Vanity Fair article, she says: “I would like to see Toback admit this happened. None of us are asking for money, for jobs, or for fame. We don’t want to be threatened on social media or called whistleblowers by people who don’t know what it means to be defiled and degraded and made to feel worthless.
“What I do want, in my dreams, is for someone bigger than me to call him out.”
Images: Rex Features