Actor Michael Douglas preemptively spoke out about a sexual harassment allegation, stemming from the 1980s, hoping to get ahead of the story before the accuser went public.
The two-time Academy Award winner gave an interview to Deadline, in which he flatly denied the allegations a former employee made, the most serious being that he masturbated in front of her.
“This is a complete lie, fabrication, no truth to it whatsoever,” he stated.
The unnamed woman also accused him of using “colorful language” and “blackballing” her in the entertainment industry after firing her.
Douglas was approached by The Hollywood Reporter in December with the allegations, which he said were not true. When it became clear to him the paper was going to run with the story anyway, he did not want to be another casualty of the #MeToo movement, which often plays out as “She said; he’s done,” according to Deadline.
Douglas recounted to Deadline, “The reporter told me, ‘she did say that you never harassed her, never touched her,’ and I said…okay. So I didn’t know where this comes from.”
“I had the choice of waiting for a story to come out, one that will clearly get picked up by other newspapers and magazines, and then I have to sit there and try to defend myself,” Douglas said. “Or, try to share with the public, a little ahead of the story, my thoughts and concerns.”
The 73-year-old recalled the woman being an aspiring writer and an intelligent person, but someone his production company ultimately let go of, based on her job performance in film development.
“I tried to think to reach back thirty plus years to try to remember,” he said. “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,” Douglas added. “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.’”
During the time period in question, around 1986, he told Deadline his own production company was struggling. Douglas’ blockbuster “Romancing the Stone” came out in 1984, followed by its successful sequel “The Jewel of the Nile” in 1985.
He would go on to star in the 1987 box office hits “Wall Street,” for which he won the Oscar for best actor, and “Fatal Attraction.” According to IMDb, he did not produce either of these films.
The Hollywood star stated he is in full support of the #MeToo movement “with all his heart,” but 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,” he elaborated. “There is no due process, no chance of seeing evidence in front of me from my accuser. It worries me,” Douglas said.
The actor has experience with a negative narrative about his sexual behavior taking hold in the public.
In a 2015 story, The U.K. Daily Mail asked Douglas about his alleged “sex addiction” first reported on by a British tabloid in 1992.
“Let me explain how that whole ‘sex addiction’ thing happened,” he replied.
“I had an alcohol issue — I’d just lost my stepfather and it was a good rehab session; it certainly helped me find out a couple of things,” Douglas explained, referring to a stint he did at an Arizona addiction clinic.
“‘Basic Instinct’ had just come out, and I don’t remember who the clever editor was in London, but they came up with ‘sex addiction,’” the star continued. “It became a new disease. No one had heard of that up until then, but it’s stuck with me ever since. And it still pops up now and again.”
“That little lie that got a lot of press” and “affected how people looked at me,” Douglas said.
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