Selma Blair and Rachel McAdams are among the latest women who say director James Toback sexually harassed and assaulted them. The actresses spoke to Vanity Fair about the times that Toback harassed them. In the fallout after Harvey Weinstein’s sexual abuse scandal rocked the entertainment industry, over 200 women came forward following a Los Angeles Times expose of the writer-director.
Blair previously shared her story for the Times’ expose but did not want her name to be used. She told Vanity Fair that when she was supposedly auditioning for a role as a lawyer in “Harvard Man,” Toback invited her to his hotel room for a private audition and coaching. Toback demanded Blair do her audition naked, then asked her if she would have sex with him. When she refused, Toback had her pinch his nipples as he rubbed up against her until he ejaculated. Toback also hinted to Blair that he had gang affiliations and could have her kidnapped and killed if she did not comply or told anyone about the encounter.
“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?'” Blair said. “My career was just starting, and I was frightened. I thought I was going to be kidnapped if I told anybody.”
Rachel McAdams was similarly up for a part in “Harvard Man” and also agreed to meet Toback for a private audition, acting workshop, and rehearsal. According to McAdams, Toback referenced masturbating while thinking of her several times during the encounter and also asked to see her pubic hair. McAdams later found out from her agent that the director had done the same thing to another one of her clients.
“I just kept trying to normalize it — thinking, ‘This has to be some weird acting exercise. This is some kind of test. I just have to show that I am brave and this does not bother me and nothing can shake me.’ I really was frozen. My brain was not catching up,” McAdams said. “I called my agent at the time. And she was outraged. She was very sorry… 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. I was so surprised to hear that.”
Toback’s modus operandi, according to dozens of women, is to lure young actresses with promises of working with them and casting them in his films. He would then make explicit sexual comments sometimes rub against the women until he ejaculated in his pants or on their bare skin. Since the allegations were first reported, Toback has denied everything, claiming that he either never or only briefly met the women in question. Additionally Toback, who is 72, said that for the past 22 years diabetes and a heart condition have made it impossible for him to have committed any of the assaults.