Actress Ellen Page published a lengthy statement on her Facebook talking about some of the inappropriate behavior she has experienced on movie sets starting when she was a minor. The statement opens with her account of being crudely outed on the set of X-men: The Last Stand by director Brett Ratner:
“You should f**k her to make her realize she’s gay.” He said this about me during a cast and crew “meet and greet” before we began filming, X Men: The Last Stand. I was eighteen years old. He looked at a woman standing next to me, ten years my senior, pointed to me and said: “You should f**k her to make her realize she’s gay.” He was the film’s director, Brett Ratner.
I was a young adult who had not yet come out to myself. I knew I was gay, but did not know, so to speak. I felt violated when this happened. I looked down at my feet, didn’t say a word and watched as no one else did either. This man, who had cast me in the film, started our months of filming at a work event with this horrific, unchallenged plea. He “outed” me with no regard for my well-being, an act we all recognize as homophobic. I proceeded to watch him on set say degrading things to women. I remember a woman walking by the monitor as he made a comment about her “flappy pussy”.
Page says her treatment by Ratner created a scene later when he asked her to wear a “Team Ratner” t-shirt. She refused, telling him, “I am not on your team.” Later, she says the film’s producers came to her trailer and warned her about how she had spoken to the director.
Earlier this month the LA Times published a story in which six different women accused Ratner of sexual misconduct, including actress Natasha Henstridge who claimed Ratner forced himself on her and made her perform oral sex. Today, Variety reports that former female employees of New Line got so fed up with Ratner’s borderline harassing behavior when he would come into their offices that they finally complained to the HR department:
Terri Goddard, a former assistant at New Line, said that Ratner was notorious around the office for ogling the assistants, invading their space, and making them uncomfortable. His behavior was sufficiently persistent and unwelcome that she and several other employees complained to the human resources department.
“It’s humiliating to be objectified when you’re trying to do your work,” she said. “People were just appalled.”
Goddard said that Ratner’s behavior stopped after she and the other assistants complained to New Line’s HR department, and that it appeared the company had talked to him about the allegations.
Page says her experience with Ratner was far from the only negative one she faced as a young actress. In fact, she says abusers are “ubiquitous” and describes several other incidents that occurred when she was sixteen:
When I was sixteen a director took me to dinner (a professional obligation and a very common one). He fondled my leg under the table and said, “You have to make the move, I can’t.” I did not make the move and I was fortunate to get away from that situation. It was a painful realization: my safety was not guaranteed at work. An adult authority figure for whom I worked intended to exploit me, physically. I was sexually assaulted by a grip months later. I was asked by a director to sleep with a man in his late twenties and to tell them about it. I did not. This is just what happened during my sixteenth year, a teenager in the entertainment industry.
Later, Page criticizes some of the big name abusers in Hollywood and says her greatest regret is working for Woody Allen:
Harvey was known to be predatory. The crimes were his, but many were complicit. Many more chose to look the other way. We continue to celebrate filmmaker Roman Polanski, who was convicted of drugging and anally raping a young girl and who fled sentencing. A fugitive from justice. I’ve heard the industry decry Weinstein’s behavior and vow to affect meaningful change. But let’s be truthful: the list is long and still protected by the status quo. We have work to do. We cannot look the other way.
I did a Woody Allen movie and it is the biggest regret of my career. I am ashamed I did this. I had yet to find my voice and was not who I am now and felt pressured, because “of course you have to say yes to this Woody Allen film.” Ultimately, however, it is my choice what films I decide to do and I made the wrong choice. I made an awful mistake.
Ultimately the thing that stands out most from this lengthy statement is Page’s sense that people in the industry know about the “ubiquitous” abusers. She writes, “You know who they are; they’ve been discussed behind closed doors as often as Weinstein was.” Page adds, “If I, a person with significant privilege, remain reluctant and at such risk simply by saying a person’s name, what are the options for those who do not have what I have?” So long as the abusers have money and lawyers, many of them are going to continue working in Hollywood.