Just after the New York Times published back-to-back reports of Harvey Weinstein’s serial sexual harassment of women in Hollywood, Los Angeles Times published an exposé about director James Toback (Two Girls and a Guy, Bugsy), where 38 women accused him of sexual harassment over the years. Some of those women include Rachel McAdams and Selma Blair.
Speaking to Vanity Fair, Blair, 45, and McAdams, 38, tell similar personal encounters about Toback’s modus operandi – from the requests to meet him in hotel rooms, the promise of a role in a movie and complimenting their acting skills.
McAdams was 21 years old attending theater school when she met Toback, who encouraged her to try out for a role in the film Harvard Man. After her audition, he suggested they workshop it together. McAdams claims Toback told her to leave her phone number with a casting agent’s assistant, and he called her that night to invite her to his hotel.
“I didn’t really want to go to a hotel and meet him. He said, ‘It has to be tonight. I am going out of town first thing tomorrow. This is our only chance.'” McAdams says she “really didn’t want to go,” but Toback “was so insistent” that she agreed to meet.
“He had all of these books and magazines splayed out on the floor. He invited me to sit on the floor, which was a bit awkward. Pretty quickly the conversation turned quite sexual and he said, ‘You know, I just have to tell you. I have masturbated countless times today thinking about you since we met at your audition.'”
McAdams said she became even more uncomfortable when Toback became “manipulative,” asking her things like “How brave are you?” and “How far you are willing to go as an actress?” After Toback asked her to read reviews about his work, she recalls thinking, “When are we getting to the rehearsal part?” McAdams says he then excused himself to go to the bathroom.
“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,” she tells Vanity Fair. “Eventually, I just excused myself.”
“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,'” the Mean Girls star says. “Eventually I just realized that it wasn’t.” McAdams says she feels “very lucky” that Toback didn’t “physically assault” her.
For Selma Blair, things took a sinister turn when James Toback asked her to meet him in his hotel room.
“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.”
I left. I was shaking and scared. I told my boyfriend and made him promise not to tell anyone. My career was just starting, and I was frightened. I thought I was going to be kidnapped if I told anybody.” – Selma Blair, Vanity Fair (Oct 2017).
“When my manager called me back and said, “James Toback wants to see you again,” I said, “That man is vile. And I never want to be in a room with him again. Do not send any girls or women to him.”” The alleged incident haunted McAdams and Blair for years. McAdams “couldn’t sleep” the night James Toback tried to make a move on her, and her agent “was outraged” when she told her about it the next day.
“She was very sorry. But she also said, ‘I can’t believe he did it again. This isn’t the first time that this has happened. He did this to one of my other actresses.’ That is when I got mad, because I felt like I was kind of thrown into the lion’s den and given no warning that he was a predator. This was something that he was known for doing already,” said the 38-year-old The Notebook star. “I was so surprised to hear that.”
Toback, 72, denied the allegations, claiming he didn’t recall ever meeting any of the 38 accusers, but said that if he did, the meetings were very brief. The director also said it was “biologically impossible” for him to sexually assault any of his accusers, as it has been for 22 years, due to complications from diabetes and a heart condition.
“I didn’t want to speak up because, it sounds crazy but, even until now, I have been scared for my life. But then these brave women spoke out, and he called them liars and said he didn’t recall meeting them . . . that [the] behavior alleged was disgusting and it could not be attributed to him. I just felt rage. Pure rage.” said Selma Blair to Vanity Fair.
McAdams also told Vanity Fair that “I did not want to talk about this ever again. However, even though it is a really bad memory, I feel like some good could come from talking about it now.”