Following at least 238 women accusing James Toback of sexual harassment, two high-profile actresses came forward on Thursday to share personal stories in which they also accuse the director of misconduct. In separate interviews given to Vanity Fair, Selma Blair and Rachel McAdams say they were each harassed by Toback in a hotel room during the late nineties, both in connection with a part in the 2001 movie Harvard Man.
In McAdams’ account, she alleges that Toback told her he had masturbated while thinking of her prior to their meeting, had her read reviews of his films aloud to him, and then excused himself, apparently to masturbate again, before asking to see her pubic hair. “I was very lucky that I left and he didn’t actually physically assault me in any way,” she told Vanity Fair. She also noted that the morning after the encounter, she called her agent, who apologized and said, according to McAdams, “I can’t believe he did it again. This isn’t the first time that this has happened. He did this the last time that he was in town. He did this to one of my other actresses.”
In the same article, Blair reveals that she was one of the original 38 women included in the initial Los Angeles Times story about Toback, though she spoke then under the condition of anonymity. In her account to Vanity Fair, Blair alleges that in 1999, Toback relocated a meeting in a hotel restaurant to his private room, and that when she arrived, he allegedly told her to take off her clothes, rubbed his crotch against her leg, and told her to pinch his nipples and look into his eyes.
Blair then accuses the director of threatening her:
After he finished, he told me, “There is a girl who went against me. She was going to talk about something I did. I am going to tell you, and this is a promise, if she ever tells anybody, no matter how much time she thinks went by, I have people who will pull up in a car, kidnap her, and throw her in the Hudson River with cement blocks on her feet. You understand what I’m talking about, right?”
He looked at me with those bug eyes that had just raped my leg. And I said, “Yes. I understand.”
Toback denied all of the allegations to the Los Angeles Times in the original story, stating that he had either not met the women in question or that he met them “for five minutes and have no recollection.” He also added that “for the last 22 years, it had been ‘biologically impossible’ for him to engage in the behavior described by the women in this story” due to diabetes and a heart condition. Blair attributed her decision to speak on the record this time to Toback’s denial, saying, “[T]hese brave women spoke out, and he called them liars and said he didn’t recall meeting them … that [the] behavior alleged was disgusting and it could not be attributed to him. I just felt rage. Pure rage.”
Blair added that her motivation for speaking out was not “money, for jobs, or for fame”:
We don’t want to be threatened on social media or called whistleblowers by people who don’t know what it means to be defiled and degraded and made to feel worthless. What I do want, in my dreams, is for someone bigger than me to call him out. I want to light the pyre of public opinion.
Toback has yet to respond directly to Blair and McAdams’ accusations.
You can read their full accounts in Vanity Fair.