The Hollywood Reporterhas published a detailed look at sexual harassment allegations that have surfaced against Oscar-winning actor Michael Douglas. The allegations arrive a little over a week after Douglas gave an interview to Deadline in which he attempted to get ahead of the T.H.R. story: “I’m bewildered why, after 32 years, this is coming out, now,” he said at the time.
The allegations have been brought forward by Susan Braudy, a journalist and author who worked for Douglas’s production company, Stonebridge Productions, in the late 1980s. Braudy says she kept notes and files from her time working with Douglas, and alleges not only that Douglas used profane language, but that he also masturbated in front of her during a script meeting in his apartment. At the time, they were brainstorming the creation of an E.T.-like character. She shared her written account of the alleged act with T.H.R.:
“Michael unzipped his chinos and I registered something amiss. Still complimenting my additions to our E.T. imitation, his voice lowered at least half an octave. I peered at him and saw he’d inserted both hands into his unzipped pants. I realized to my horror that he was rubbing his private parts. Within seconds his voice cracked and it appeared to me he’d had an orgasm.”
Braudy recalls that she then ran out the door. Douglas, she alleges, ran after her to the elevator, saying “Hey, thank you, you’re good. You helped me, thank you, thank you.”
Braudy also claims that Douglas used vulgar language, made inappropriate jokes, and commented on her body. When she started wearing “long, loose layers of black,” Douglas allegedly asked a producer why Braudy dresses “like a pregnant nun.” She says he also joked to a group of agents that she was “a screamer! I bet she screams in the sack.” When she asked him to stop making remarks like that, he purportedly laughed.
After Douglas allegedly masturbated in front of her, their work relationship began to wilt. Braudy says Douglas asked her to sign a confidentiality agreement, which she took as a sign that he “was preparing to fire me.” Her lawyer urged her not to sign, and she was able to postpone it for six months. She was ultimately fired in late 1989, without signing an agreement.
In response to the allegations, Douglas, via his lawyer, had an off-the-record phone conversation with the publication’s deputy editorial director Alison Brower, editorial director Matthew Belloni (who wrote the piece containing the allegations), and his own team. Douglas then sent the publication a written statement calling Braudy’s allegations “an unfortunate and complete fabrication.”
He also had the following to say about Braudy: “This individual is an industry veteran, a senior executive, a published novelist and an established member of the women’s movement—someone with a strong voice now, as well as when she worked at my company more than three decades ago. At no time then did she express or display even the slightest feeling of discomfort working in our environment, or with me personally. That is because at no time, and under no circumstance, did I behave inappropriately toward her.”
Douglas added that “coarse language or overheard private conversations with my friends that may have troubled her are a far cry from harassment. Suggesting so does a true disservice to those who have actually endured sexual harassment and intimidation.”
Representatives for Douglas told Vanity Fair that the actor has no further comment.
The remarks echo his interview with Deadline a little over a week ago, which he agreed to do in an attempt to get in front of the T.H.R. piece. When asked directly by Deadline co-editor-in-chief Mike Fleming Jr. why he was doing an interview, Douglas said the allegations sent him “reeling.”
“I just couldn’t put this together,” he said. “I’ve had no contact with her, in thirty-plus years.”
He continued: “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.” Douglas also flatly denied all the allegations over the course of the interview, while his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, did the same in an interview with People: “There was no other way than to be pre-emptive in a story that had to be watched. He did a statement. I think it’s very clear the way that he stands. I cannot elaborate on something that’s so very personal to him,” she said. Zeta-Jones also spoke in favor of the greater #MeToo movement: “My reaction was that as two people who have been in this business—him longer than me—was that we support ‘Me Too’ and the movement more than anybody, anybody—me as a woman, him as a man.”
Braudy told T.H.R. that Douglas’s response did not surprise her. “I believe this is part of the problem, as is his pretext of victimization,” she said in a phone conversation with Belloni. “These are some reasons why so many women don't come forward with their stories — Lord knows it’s taken 30 years and a movement for me to gather my courage.”
Get Vanity Fair’s HWD NewsletterSign up for essential industry and award news from Hollywood.Full ScreenPhotos:In Portrait: Darren Criss Is A Triple ThreatYohana DestaYohana Desta is a Hollywood writer for VanityFair.com.