Rachel McAdams and Selma Blair have both accused director James Toback of sexually harassing them when they were getting started in their careers. In interviews with Vanity Fair, the actresses say the director, who has made movies like Two Girls and a Guy and was nominated for an Oscar for writing the screenplay for Bugsy, met with them in hotel rooms and ended up harassing them before they could leave.
Blair and McAdams spoke out publicly after the Los Angeles Times reported that 38 women accused Toback of sexual harassment. According to their report, most of the alleged incidents followed a similar pattern: They would meet Toback in a hotel room or other private place, and he would make the conversation sexual in nature. Then, he would allegedly say he couldn’t function unless he masturbated several times a day, and then he would masturbate in front of them, abruptly ending the meeting after that.
Toback denied the initial allegations to the Los Angeles Times, saying he either never met the women who accused him or if he did, the meetings were “for five minutes and I have no recollection.” He also told the newspaper it was “physically impossible” for him to do what he is accused of doing, because he has diabetes and a heart condition. When reached by Vanity Fair, he said he had no comment about any of the allegations.
Both Blair and McAdams told similar stories to Toback’s previous accusers, and both met with him, they say, ostensibly to audition for his upcoming movie, Harvard Man. Blair, in fact, was part of the group of people who spoke to the Los Angeles Times, but she had asked for her name not to be used at the time. “When he called these women liars, and said he didn’t recall meeting them and that the behavior alleged could not be attributed to him, I just felt rage and an obligation to speak publicly now,” Blair said.
Blair said that when she met Toback, she had initially insisted on meeting in a hotel restaurant rather than in a room, but when she got there, the hostess told her to meet him in his hotel room. She told Vanity Fair she went to his room “against my better judgment,” and once she got upstairs, Toback eventually told her she needed to do a monologue with her clothing off.
At first, Blair said she said no, but she eventually took off her sweater. “I thought, ‘Well, my representation sent me to see him. He must be really important,’” she said. She eventually put her sweater back on, and according to her account, she was about to leave when Toback “started to rub his penis through his pants,” pressed against her leg, and forced her to look into his eyes. He then allegedly threatened her safety if she ever spoke about what happened. Blair told Vanity Fair she felt physically afraid to speak out.
According to McAdams, she met Toback while she was still in theater school and about to start work on a television show. She claimed Toback told her he had masturbated thinking of her, and asked to see her pubic hair; she told him no and later left. “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,’” she told Vanity Fair.
Their allegations come just weeks after The New Yorker and the New York Times published reports of women accusing producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment and assault. Some of his accusers included actresses like Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, and Ashley Judd. Weinstein denied many of the accusations against him, and categorically denied any claims of non-consensual sex.
Julianne Moore has also spoken out, tweeting that Toback tried twice to meet with her in his apartment, and so did Today show host Natalie Morales, who said he approached her in Central Park with a film offer and told her she had to “show herself.” The Los Angeles Times published a follow-up story, saying more than 200 women contacted the newspaper with their own Toback stories, though the majority of their stories have not been verified. Toback declined to comment to the newspaper about the newest allegations, and also declined to comment about Moore and Morales' allegations.
“I just think there is an ‘anything goes’ [attitude] in Hollywood that gets taken too far,” McAdams told the magazine. “And there is a sense that you don’t have to be responsible for your actions—there is just no limit to what you can be subjected to.”