Last week, the Los Angeles Times published a bombshell report in which 38 women accused director James Toback of sexually harassing them by accosting them on the street, dangling a potential movie role and then luring them into a situation that immediately turned sexual.
More than 30 of those women went on the record, leading to dozens more women coming forward to claim having similar encounters with the director of such films as “The Pick-up Artist” and “Seduced and Abandoned”, including Julianne Moore, Selma Blair and Rachel McAdams.
Toback is now speaking out about these charges, speaking with Rolling Stone to issue a blanket on-the-record denial of all the allegations.
“Lemme be really clear about this,” Toback tells Rolling Stone. “I don’t want to get a pat on the back, but I’ve struggled seriously to make movies with very little money, that I write, that I direct, that mean my life to me. The idea that I would offer a part to anyone for any other reason than that he or she was gonna be the best of anyone I could find is so disgusting to me. And anyone who says it is a lying c**ksucker or c**t or both. Can I be any clearer than that?”
Adds Toback: “Anyone who says that, I just want to spit in his or her f**king face. I’m sitting here with Sienna Miller. By the way, no one who’s ever worked with me would ever say anything like that. No one.”
At this point in the conversation, he plugs the new movie he’s just made with Miller, and invites the interviewer to say hello to her.
After some off-the-record conversation, Toback continues: “I find it offensive and insulting and disgusting, that people… Because it’s the opposite of the way I work. I don’t give my best friends parts unless they deserve them. Ever.”
When the interviewer interjects to say he’s spoken with a woman who claims that he lured her into a room and “proceeded to hump [her] leg,” Toback insists on hearing her name. The interviewer gives him two: “One is Ambika Leigh. She met you when she was working at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and she went back with you to [a friend’s] house, where you were staying, and that you humped her leg like a dog,” responds Rolling Stone‘s Hillel Aron.
“OK, that is a total lie,” Toback fires back “I never heard of the person before. And then who was the other one? First of all, that description wouldn’t fit anyone, but I never heard that name before in my life. And believe me, I would remember it, because it’s a very unusual name.”
As more accusers are named to him, Toback then attacks his interviewer: “I mean, these are people I don’t know, and it’s things I never would have done. And it’s just not worth talking about. It’s idiotic. My question to you is, do you want to be a writer? Do you have any sense of yourself as a serious person? Because this stuff should be beneath anybody.”
As Toback sees it, the vast number of accusers suddenly coming forward is akin to mob psychology, insisting that the women “hear each other. And they gang up. There was an article years and years ago with a bunch of anonymous people. People read things… it’s all, you know, me too, me too, me too, me too, me too. Anyway, it’s too stupid to waste time on. It really is. It doesn’t have anything to do with my life in any way. It never has. I work seriously with complete integrity. I never, never, never have offered a part to anyone who didn’t deserve it, and I’ve never not delivered when I do offer a part. My word is better than a contract.”
“You’ve never just sort of met someone on the street, and started talking, ‘Oh, I’m a director, I’ll get you a film role, let’s hang out…'” queries Aron.
“No, I’ve never said ‘I’ll get you a film role’ to anybody ever,” insists Toback, adding: “Anything like that is nauseating and disgusting. And I would never say anything like ‘I’ll get you a film role.’ It’s too stupid to dignify. It’s pathetic lies. It’s just too f**king embarrassing and idiotic. And if I were you, I wouldn’t go repeating it, unless you really knew it were true, because it isn’t. So that’s all I have to say. This is not worth wasting another second on.”