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James Cameron Calls Eliza Dushku ‘Brave’ for Revealing ‘Heartbreaking’ Assault

Director James Cameron has commended actress Eliza Dushku for speaking out about enduring a sexual assault during the filming of his 1994 movie “True Lies.”

Dushku on Saturday disclosed via Facebook that she was assaulted at the age of 12 while working on the film. Dushku named stunt coordinator Joel Kramer as her alleged assailant. Kramer has denied Dushku’s allegation.

“Eliza is very brave for speaking up,” Cameron said Saturday during his appearance at the Television Critics Association press tour to promote his AMC series “James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction.” “I think all the women are that are speaking up and calling for a reckoning now (are brave).”

Cameron called it “heartbreaking that it happened to her” on his film.

Cameron said he was unaware of the incident involving Dushku at the time, and he noted that he has not worked with the man he called “the other party” since “True Lies.” “Had I known about it, there would have been no mercy,” he said. “I have three daughters. There’d really be no mercy now.”

The famed director of “Terminator,” “Titanic” and the “Avatar” franchise said directors tend to be so laser-focused on the needs of the production that they don’t take notice of much else while working on a movie.

“Directors are historically pretty oblivious to the interpersonal things on their set, being so focused on what they’re doing creatively,” he said.”The fact that this was happening under our noses and we didn’t know about it” is troubling, he said.

The lesson of the extraordinary shakeup in Hollywood amid the current wave of sexual harassment and assault accusations leveled at powerful figures is that more needs to be done to establish an effective system for reporting abuses. Such a system is important for victims and hopefully as a deterrent to aberrant behavior.

Because sexual harassment is a pervasive cultural issue — “this s—‘s been going on since Day One,” he observed — the current outpouring offers a chance for education and hopefully enlightenment.

“This is kind of a great moment in history, unfortunately it’s founded on personal tragedies,” he said. “Maybe out of this can come some education that will pull some men who would otherwise go down that path back from the brink.”

Hollywood has a unique platform for raising awareness about sexual assault and discrimination through storytelling, he said. But the industry also needs to develop better safeguards and better systems for allowing victims to come forward without risk.

“Hollywood needs to create a safe avenue for people to speak up, that they feel safe from anybody who might be a predator or an abuser, and that it is encouraged and there’s no shame around it, and that there will be consequences,” he said. “All of us collectively as a human race have to do this. Hollywood is in a unique position of actually shining a spotlight on it.”

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