Theron claims ‘famous director’ harassed her
Star of new film about sexual harassment relives unwanted advances when she was a young actress
Charlize Theron, the actress, yesterday revived accusations that “a famous director” sexually harassed her early in her career. Theron, 44, promoting her new film, Bombshell, which details sexual harassment at Fox News, told how she herself had been subjected to harassment. She said that in 1994, when she had just moved to Los Angeles, the unnamed director invited her to an audition at his home one Saturday night and touched her leg as she sat on the sofa.
‘He sat very close to me. That was strange. He put his hand on my knee. You just go blank. Like you don’t know what to do’
HOLLYWOOD was bubbling with intrigue yesterday after Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron revived accusations that “a famous director” sexually harassed her early in her career.
Theron, promoting her new film, Bombshell, which details sexual harassment at Fox News under its late chief executive Roger Ailes, told how she had been subjected to harassment.
Theron told NPR radio that playing former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly allowed her to explore what she called the “grey area” of sexual harassment.
“It’s not always physical assault. It’s not always rape,” she said.
“There’s a psychological damage that happens for women in the everyday casualness of language, touch or threat – threat of losing your job. Those are things I’ve definitely encountered.”
She told how, in 1994, she had just moved to Los Angeles when a “famous director” invited her to an audition at his home one Saturday night.
When she showed up, the director opened the door in his “Hugh Hefner pyjamas” and touched her leg as she sat on the sofa: she apologised and left in a hurry.
She told the radio station that, driving away, she became angry with herself. “I just kept hitting the steering wheel,” she said. “I put a lot of blame on myself, that I didn’t say all the right things, and that I didn’t tell him to take a hike, and that I didn’t do all of those things that we so want to believe we’ll do in those situations.”
The South African-born actress first told of the incident in 2009, speaking to OK! Magazine. She mentioned it again in April this year, telling radio host Howard Stern that she had been shocked by the encounter. “I had just turned 19, I might have still been 18. I had never been out for an audition,” she told him.
“I asked this modelling agent if she’d heard of anything. She said, ‘Yep. Go to this guy’s house. It’s on Saturday at 9pm’.
“He had a very healthy ego, he felt very good about himself. There was some [muzak] playing in the house. He sat very close to me. That was strange. The drinking bothered me. I was like, ‘This doesn’t feel right.’”
Theron said she kept asking if he wanted her to read the pages of a script she had been given, to which he replied they were just going to talk.
“And then [he] put his hand on my knee,” she said. “You just go blank. Like you don’t know what to do, but I left.”
She told Stern that, eight years later, after making her name, she confronted him. She said he had no recollection of meeting her.
“I had my moment,” she said. Theron has been a strong supporter of the #Metoo movement, and, in an interview with The New York Times, published earlier this month, told how Harvey Weinstein used his power to manipulate women. She said he lied about having sex with her, in order to entice other women to sleep with him.
“One of his lines was that Renée [Zellweger] and I slept with him to get jobs. There was no limit to him. Even in the sexual favours, he would still pit us against each other.” Weinstein, who goes on trial in January for sexual assault and rape, has always denied accusations of non-consensual sex.
Zellweger, through a spokesman, denied in 2017 that she had slept with Weinstein to further her career.
Theron, 44, has also spoken about how her mother killed her father in front of her, describing him as an alcoholic and a “very sick man”.
She told how, in 1991, he tried to get into the house – belligerent, drunk and armed with a gun. Theron and her mother, Gerda, tried to stop him.
“Both of us were leaning against the door from the inside to have him not be able to push through,” she told People.
“He took a step back and just shot through the door three times.
“None of those bullets ever hit us, which is just a miracle. But in self-defence, she ended the threat.”
Theron said that she was “not ashamed” to speak about her traumatic childhood, and she wanted to end the stigma surrounding abusive families.
Above, a young Charlize Theron with her father and mother. Below, at a special Los Angeles screening of her new film ‘Bombshell’