Ant-Man and The Wasp star Michael Douglas is getting out in front of a sexual allegation story by telling his side of the story before the accuser’s side hits the press. Douglas spoke with Deadline to address the accusation of masturbating in front of a female employee, using “colorful language” in front of her, using raunchy or dirty language in front of her, and blackballing her from the industry.
I felt the need to get ahead of this. It pertains to me but I’m also getting a sense of how it reflects in our culture, and what is going on today. I see it as a cautionary tale. Right before the holidays in December, the day my son got early acceptance to the college he wants to go to, when we were all ecstatic, I got a message from my attorney that The Hollywood Reporter wanted to do a story about an employee that worked for me approximately 32 years ago. She claims that, One, I used colorful language in front of her, not at her, but that I used colorful language. Two, she claims that in conversations I had in front of her, on the phone, that I spoke raunchily, or dirtily with friends of mine, in private conversations. I fired her eventually, for the work she was doing, but Three, she claims that I blackballed her from the industry and stopped her form getting another job. And then, Four, she claims that I masturbated in front of her.
Douglas denies all four of the claims. And he says he did recall the woman who was accusing him.
My attorney was asked, ‘do I have any comment?’ I said, yeah, let me speak to the reporter. I tried to think to reach back thirty plus years to try to remember. I remembered this woman: sophisticated intelligent, good sense of humor. A novelist, who has written books and published novels and was an active feminist, and proud of it. My head was reeling. I just couldn’t put this together. I’ve had no contact with her, in thirty-plus years. I talked to the reporter and said, ‘listen, as far as using colorful language in front her, I apologize. None of it was directed at her; she didn’t say it was. It was my office and that was the tone that I set and as far as conversations with friends.’ I work out of my house, my apartment in New York at the time, to the best of my recollection. As to colorful language, she may have overheard private conversations, and if she was offended, she could have excused herself. As far as blackballing her, that was completely untrue. She was a lady who was involved in development at my company, and we just didn’t have a good development record in the time she was there, so I just moved on. I never blackballed her. If people from the industry called me to ask about her, I would have been honest, but I never blackballed her.
Hen then addresses probably the most damning accusation. He calls it a “complete lie.”
Finally, masturbating in front of her? I don’t know where to begin. This is a complete lie, fabrication, no truth to it whatsoever.
However, the best part of Douglas’ response is his criticism of Hollywood’s journalism. He puts them on blast for planning to run a story because another outlet might scoop them.
The Hollywood Reporter got in touch with me and said, she’s running around, possibly trying to give this story to other people, so we’re going to run with it. I said, I don’t think that’s justification, just because you might get scooped, to run a story like this. My attorney did say they had been approached by Variety or somebody else, asking if there was anything going on.
I was floored. I didn’t know what to say and I tried to digest it. The accusations are minimal, except of course for the idea of masturbating in front of her. She supposedly had three friends who would back her up, that she had mentioned this to.
Douglas then brings up his own record in support of the women’s movement and blasts The Hollywood Reporter again for planning to run a story without any corroboration of the accusation.
I pride myself of being so supportive of the women’s movement. My mother was an actress, and I myself married to an actress and have been supportive of this movement wholeheartedly, through all my years. I was forced to look over my past. I’ve had up to 20 female executives who worked at my company in different areas over the years. Over 20 producers I partnered with on pictures have been women. Not to mention all the actresses I’ve worked with and the hundreds of performers. How am I, in a 50 year career in this industry, dealing with an employee 33 years ago who perhaps is disgruntled that I let her go, even though I have never heard from her in 32 years. And a legitimate trade publication is going to try and print this story? There is no corroboration, just that they found out somebody else might run the story.
Michael Douglas, who has been married to wife Catherine Zeta-Jones for over 17 years, described how painful these accusations are:
It’s extremely painful. I pride myself on my reputation in this business, not to mention the long history of my father and everything else. I don’t have skeletons in my closet, or anyone else who’s coming out or saying this. I’m bewildered why, after 32 years, this is coming out, now. As I say, I will fess up to colorful language, but the issue of masturbating in front of her? That rung is something I’ve only heard about the last year. It’s not an expression that related to the ‘80s. So I thought it stunk. And I tried to figure out, why the hell would somebody do this? The part that hurt the worst is having to share something like this to your wife and your children. My kids are really upset, has to go to school worrying this is going to be in some article about me, being a sexual harasser. They’re scared and very uncomfortable.
Douglas then says he’s done some research on the women who is accusing him and believes she might be out to make a quick buck with the accusations.
The woman, it turns out, is a blogger. We’ve had to do some quick research, and she has mentioned my name sometimes in her blogs. Nothing terrible. It leads me to believe she either has or is trying to get a book deal. I can’t believe that someone would cause someone else pain like this. Maybe she is disgruntled her career didn’t go the way she hoped and she is holding this grudge. It has caused tremendous stress to me for something I believe I have nothing to regret or feel responsible for.
He then details how he supports the #meetoo movement, but stories like this one can set the movement back.
Look, I support the #metoo movement with all my heart. I have always supported women, along the way. This is the kind of step that can set that movement back. Being accused, without a chance [to defend yourself] in court. To not even really have the information in front of you, to be able to argue or defend yourself. There is no due process, no chance of seeing evidence in front of me from my accuser. It worries me.
Michael Douglas then said he does not believe any more women will come out against him.
No, I don’t, except that I’ve had a few people call me, who’ve been approached by The Reporter, people I worked with over the years who’ve been told, we’re doing this story on Michael Douglas and harassment. Do you have any comment to make? They are reaching out trying to get any corroboration. Everything that has been said to me, I have reason to believe that no one else has come forward. I’ve worked with women my entire life. It has never been an issue. And now it’s an issue, with a woman who was there 32 years ago, who happens to be a writer, who happens to write blogs, who says she wants to write a book about her life, and a chapter about me, and yet, that is lost in the accusations in the period we’re in right now.
I think Michael Douglas hits the nail on the head. Many of the most recent accusations following Harvey Weinstein look to be people trying to take advantage of the #metoo movement to make a quick buck or in some cases attempt to destroy another person’s life just out of spite. They just accused comic book legend Stan Lee, a man in his mid 90s, yesterday! I’m glad Michael Douglas is speaking out and I wholeheartedly agree with him that many of these people are being found guilty in the court of public opinion without any due process or way for the accused to defend themselves. It’s like we, as Americans, forgot about innocent until proven guilty. It’s time we remember it.
Thank you, Michael Douglas for reminding us.