Home LIFESTYLE Style News True Lies Director James Cameron Comments on Eliza Dushku’s Allegation of Molestation

True Lies Director James Cameron Comments on Eliza Dushku’s Allegation of Molestation

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Late Friday night, actress Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Bring It On actress Eliza Dushku wrote a lengthy, detailed post on Facebook accusing stunt coordinator Joel Kramer of sexually molesting her during the production of True Lies when she was 12 years old, and he was 36. When reached by phone for comment, Kramer denied her account. Less that 24 hours later, True Lies director James Cameron took the stage at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour to promote his new AMC series James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction. The subject turned eventually to Dushku.

A high percentage of the panels at the two-week press tour have dealt, at some point, with the wave sexual misconduct allegations rocking Hollywood. As executives from FX, CW, Showtime, and more grappled publicly (or not) with the fall out of doing business with disgraced and accused powerful men, Cameron was asked to weigh in on what Dushku alleges happened on his film set 24 years ago and, more broadly, the “reckoning” in Hollywood. In her Facebook post, Dushku detailed a disturbing encounter where Kramer allegedly took her back to his hotel room and lay and “rubbed” on top of her “catatonic body” until he “finished. Kramer called her account “atrocious lies” and denied her claim that he gave her the nickname of “Jailbait.” The actress writes:

Why didn’t an adult on the set find his predatory advances strange —
that over-the-top special attention he gave me. Fairly early on he
nicknamed me “Jailbait” and brazenly called me by this name in a sick
flirty way in front of others (at the time, I remember asking one of
my older brothers what it meant) . . .Over the years I’ve really
struggled as I’ve wondered how my life might have been different if
someone, any one grown-up who witnessed his sick ways, had spoken up
before he lured me to that hotel room.

As one of those adults on set at the time, Cameron told the assembled journalists on Saturday that he had only just heard about Dushku’s experience so hadn’t had time to process this “specific situation.” But the director went on to speak expansively on the subject saying:

Obviously, Eliza is very brave for speaking up. I think all the women
are who are speaking up and calling for a reckoning now. I think this
has been endemic throughout human systems, not just Hollywood. Because
Hollywood deals with—women who were victims 10, 15, 20 years ago are
famous today so they get to have a louder voice when they come forward
so bravo for them for doing it. And I’m glad Eliza did it.

Calling Dushku’s account “heartbreaking,” Cameron nonetheless went on to call this “kind of a great moment in history” which “unfortunately is founded on personal tragedy for so many of these women. But it’s a great moment. This is not a reckoning for Hollywood, it’s not just a reckoning for America, it’s a reckoning for the human race.”

Cameron pulled no punches saying “This shit has been going on since Day One. Whenever there’s a male in position of power and he’s got a piece missing and doesn’t understand the consequences of what he’s doing. And maybe out of this can come some education and pull some men who would otherwise go down that path back from the brink as well.”

Saying he hopes Hollywood can, as it has throughout history, shine a light on the issue and put standards in place for the rest of the world to follow. As for his own involvement in Dushku’s allegation, Cameron said:

Directors are historically pretty oblivious to the interpersonal
things that are happening on their set. I’m probably one of the worst
offenders of that—being focused on what I’m doing creatively. Had I
known about it, there would have been no mercy. Now especially that I
have daughters, there’d really be no mercy now.

Sue Booth-Forbes who was Dushku’s legal guardian on the set of True Lies told Deadline on Saturday:

I was on the True Lies set for 3 weeks and reported Joel Kramer’s
inappropriate sexual behavior towards 12-year-old Eliza to a person in
authority. I was met with blank stares and had the sense that I wasn’t
telling that person anything they didn’t already know.

I tried to keep Joel away from her as did others working on the set,
but because of all the stunts she had to do, he was constantly
involved with her and her body. Those who knew didn’t know what to do
and were far enough down the pecking order to be afraid of losing
their jobs if they pressed the issue because all the power lay in the
hands of those who called the shots and would stop at nothing to
protect each other.

Cameron has yet to speak out in a broader context on the wave of sexual assault allegations upending the industry he’s worked in for over 30 years except to briefly relay a story of nearly coming to blows with Harvey Weinsten at the 1998 Academy Awards ceremony over a matter unrelated to sexual assault. In November, he told Vanity Fair, “I remember almost getting in a fight with Harvey Weinstein and hitting him with my Oscar,” and acknowledges that, in retrospect, there are many in Hollywood “that would’ve preferred I had played through on that one.”

In 2011, when addressing the wide-spread rumor of a planned True Lies sequel (that has since been turned into a TV project), Dushku expressed interest in returning to the franchise that launched her career. She told MTV: “Jim should give me a call, we should talk about it. I might consider being into it.”

Cameron’s full statement is below:

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I haven’t given a lot of thought to this specific situation because I
just heard about it. Obviously, Eliza is very brave for speaking up. I
think all the women are who are speaking up. And calling for a
reckoning now. I think this has been endemic throughout human systems,
not just Hollywood. Because Hollywood deals with—women who were
victims 10, 15, 20 years ago are famous today so they get to have a
louder voice when they come forward so bravo for them for doing it.
And I’m glad Eliza did it.

It’s just heartbreaking that it happened to her. I know the other
party—not well, he hasn’t worked for me since then. The fact that this
was happening under our noses and we didn’t know about it. I think
that going forward it’s important for all industries—certainly
Hollywood—to create a safe avenue for people to speak up. That they
feel safe and that nyone who might be a predator or an abuser knows
that mechanism is there and that it’s encouraged. There’s no shame
around it and there will be consequences.

We all collectively as a human race have to do that. I don’t think
this is a Hollywood problem. Hollywood is in a unique position to
shine a spotlight on it as it historically has done on a lot of
issues. It’s one of the things we do and do well. This is a kind of a
great moment in history, unfortunately it’s founded on personal
tragedy for so many of these women. But it’s a great moment. This is
not a reckoning for Hollywood, it’s not just a reckoning for America,
it’s a reckoning for the human race.

This shit has been going on since Day One. Whenever there’s a male in
position of power and he’s got a piece missing and doesn’t understand
the consequences of what he’s doing. And maybe out of this can come
some education and pull some men who would otherwise go down that path
back from the brink as well.

A lot of it has to come from some kind of lack of empathy. They’re
clearly not feeling what this could mean for the person down the line.
I think the psychological consequences have to be understood. So
hopefully we’ll be making films about this kind of stuff and we’ll put
something in place as industry practice. To do as much as we can to
prevent it.

Directors are historically pretty oblivious to the interpersonal
things that are happening on their set. I’m probably one of the worst
offenders of that—being focused on what I’m doing creatively. Had I
known about it, there would have been no mercy. Now especially that I
have daughters, there’d really be no mercy now.

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