In the midst of Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual harassment and assault of countless women in Hollywood, Selma Blair spokeout against writer and director James Toback. Blair and McAdams spoke to Vanity Fair exclusively about their experiences with Toback early on in their careers.
Both of the actresses’ stories are eerily similar. They described incidences where Toback insisted that they meet him in his hotel room, as opposed to the hotel restaurant or lobby, to have a meeting about potentially being cast in one of his films.
Blair’s encounter was more physical as she describes Toback pressing himself up against her leg and coaxing her into removing her sweater so that he could see her full potential as an actress.
She told Vanity Fair,
I said, “What do I have to do? I cannot touch you. I cannot have sex with you.”
“He said, ‘It’s O.K. 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. And he continued to press so hard against my leg. He was greasy and I had to look into those big brown eyes. I tried to look away, but he would hold my face. So I was forced to look into his eyes. And I felt disgust and shame, and like nobody would ever think of me as being clean again after being this close to the devil. His energy was so sinister.
After he finished, he told me, “There is a girl who went against me. She was going to talk about something I did. I am going to tell you, and 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?”
He looked at me with those bug eyes that had just raped my leg. And I said, “Yes. I understand.”
This terrifying encounter scared Blair into silence. She was afraid to speak up for fear that Toback would have her killed or kidnapped, as he threatened to do.
Rachel McAdams also went to Toback’s hotel room where the conversation quickly turned sexual, with the writer and director admitting to fantasizing about McAdams.
She told Vanity Fair,
He started that kind of manipulative talk of, “How brave are you? How far you are willing to go as an actress? I want to build some intimacy between us because we have to have a very trusting relationship and this is a very difficult part.” Then he asked me to read passages out loud from different reviews of his films and different critics talking about his work. It was all so confusing. I kept thinking, “When are we getting to the rehearsal part?” Then he went to the bathroom and left me with some literature to read about him. When he came back he said, “I just jerked off in the bathroom thinking about you. Will you show me your pubic hair?” I said no.
Eventually, I just excused myself. I can’t remember how long I was there. I felt like I was there forever. This has been such a source of shame for me—that I didn’t have the wherewithal to get up and leave. I kept thinking, “This is going to become normal any minute now. This is going to all make sense. This is all above board somehow.” Eventually I just realized that it wasn’t.
In the past, thirty-eight other women have accused James Toback of sexual assault as well.
Sexual assault is an extremely serious and pervasive issue, not only in Hollywood but throughout the world. The only way we can truly fix these issues is to continue talking about it, to continue an open dialogue and conversation.
Through admitting these hard truths and taking action, victims of sexual assault and harassment can take their power back from their abuser and hopefully in doing so, make a change.