In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, which saw multiple women – including major celebrities like Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jennifer Lawrence – come forward to detail their experiences with the Hollywood producer, more and more men have been exposed for their nefarious deeds.
The abuse of power by men in Hollywood is a problem that has been happening since the industry began, and it is still very prevalent today. Men in authoritative positions like director, producer, network executive, or award-winning actor have teams to shield them from accusations and sweep others under the rug. They’re so used to getting their way that it doesn’t occur to them that a “No” is exactly that – no. Fortunately, following the Weinstein scandal and the response to it, more victims have felt emboldened to come forward with their own tales of Hollywood depravity, of men who coerced them and abused them, who rendered them voiceless and helpless. Of course, there are also those who are still protected by the bigwigs in the business, who still have their TV shows and films, who still win major awards and nab blockbuster roles. If you’re sensitive to this topic, consider this your trigger warning.
15 DESPICABLE: Ben Affleck
Physical assault is not something that should merit more attention depending on the extent of the incident involved. ALL assaults necessitate action, and to ignore some in favour of more extreme cases simply contributes to a culture that normalizes such things. With that said, let’s talk about Ben Affleck’s groping instance.
During a 2003 appearance on MTV’s TRL alongside VJ Hilarie Burton, Affleck decided that an appropriate greeting for the then-19-year-old was to grab her chest. Burton, ever the professional, tried to laugh it off, but clearly the incident stuck with her. After a Twitter user mentioned how it was interesting that everyone had simply forgotten about Burton’s assault by Affleck, the actress replied, “I didn’t forget.” Affleck issued an apology via a tweet. While that was the bare minimum that he could do, it apparently wasn’t the last time the actor got handsy without consent: multiple women have come out to accuse the Batman actor of groping and inappropriate touching.
14 DESPICABLE: Kevin Spacey
Arguably the most famous instance of a decades-long abuse of power since Harvey Weinstein, actor Kevin Spacey’s history of physical assault has forever tarnished his reputation – which only seems fair, considering how long he forced his victims to suffer in silence.
Anthony Rapp was the actor who was the first to shed light on Spacey’s misdeeds, in retelling of his story when, at the age of 14, he was left alone at a party at Spacey’s home and approached by Spacey, who then lay on top of him. Spacey, rather than own up to his mistakes, took that chance to come out as gay, in a move that angered Hollywood and the public alike, in part because his response furthered the homophobic myth of equating homosexuality with pedophilia. Since Rapp’s confession, more men have come forward, including those who worked behind the scenes on Spacey’s Netflix show House of Cards. In quick succession, Spacey checked himself into a centre for treatment, his publicist and agency dropped him, and Netflix has suspended all production of House of Cards.
13 DESPICABLE: Bob Weinstein
Clearly, crappiness runs in the family because Harvey Weinstein’s own brother and partner at Miramax and The Weinstein Company, Bob, has been accused of his own inappropriate actions in the wake of the Weinstein scandal.
In mid-October, an article was published alleging that Bob Weinstein had physically harassed an employee while on the set of the Spike TV series Mist. The employee, Amanda Segel, alleged that the harassment began in the summer of 2016 and lasted for three months until Segel got her lawyer involved. Considering the power-play that was happening, Segel wasn’t heard, and was instead punished for deciding to come forward.: she was threatened with termination if she didn’t respond to his advances. Weinstein’s lawyer stated that Segel was a liar and that they had the emails to prove it and Segel was forced to issue an ultimatum to execs: lose her from the show or demand that Weinstein cease all contact with her that was not of a professional nature.
12 DESPICABLE: Jeremy Piven
One of the most recent examples on this list, accusations against actor Jeremy Piven didn’t start gaining traction until the end of October. At that time, actress Ariane Bellamar and adult entertainer Isis Taylor accused Piven of inappropriate behaviour of a physical nature on the set of his hit show Entourage and at a party. Bellamar chose to use Twitter to detail her experience with Piven, asking him if he remembered grabbing her chest and her butt, before declaring that they made a “beautiful couple”. Taylor, in an interview, alleged that PIven had made unwanted advances towards her and crudely gestured towards his own body. Piven, naturally, denied all accusations to Entertainment Weekly, saying that he takes all accusations seriously and wouldn’t want a false one about him to detract from the very real incidents happening in Hollywood.
Since the accusations have come to light, Piven’s current show – which is aired by both HBO and CBS – is still airing, although both networks have said that they are “looking into the matter”. Only time will tell if Piven gets his just desserts!
11 DESPICABLE: Rob Lowe
It might be hard to reconcile the idea of Rob Lowe, he of the perfect teeth and blue eyes, of Parks & Recreation fame, with a 1980s playboy who got in a whole lot of trouble for his physical appetites that saw him engage with an underage girl. It seems that Hollywood has forgotten what he’s done – but we haven’t.
In 1988, Lowe was accused of getting intimate with two women – including a 16-year-old girl – on video. The mother of the teenager sued Lowe, and the actor settled out of court with what amounted to a slap on the wrist. The then-disgraced former teen star served a mere 20 hour of community service and, despite a moderately humiliating year, went on to bigger and better things, hardly the worse for what he’d done. In fact, the incident became fodder for comedians, who brought out his X-rated tape most recently in the Comedy Central roast of Lowe. Ironically, perhaps if the issue hadn’t been dealt with immediately, Lowe might be suffering graver consequences for his crimes, considering the current climate of accusations.
10 DESPICABLE: Bill O’Reilly
You know you have a problem when your wandering hands and the man downstairs has made you cough up $13 million in settlement fees, but apparently that – and common decency – simply weren’t enough to stop egotistical windbag Bill O’Reilly from abusing women again and again and again.
Five women in total received money from the settlement, but from the sounds of it, there were many more victims of O’Reilly. A wide range of abuse occurred including lewd phone calls, verbal abuse, unwanted advances, and s*xual remarks. He also targeted coworkers and used his pull at Fox News in order to get what he wanted from them. Thanks to the pattern exhibited by CEO Roger Ailes, O’Reilly seemed invincible, and indeed, Fox did stand by its host – at least, for a little while. In the wake of the reports, which was broken by The New York Times, advertisers began pulling out of the network. Since money speaks louder than victimized women, apparently, Fox kicked O’Reilly to the curb less than three weeks after the scandal came to light.
9 DESPICABLE: Brett Ratner
Another recent entry to our list – which is both a good and a bad thing – we have Rush Hour director Brett Ratner, who used his position of power and connection to harass and assault numerous women over many years. Six women have come forward in a story that was published by the Los Angeles Times, including notable actress Olivia Munn and model Natasha Henstridge were among them. It was during a time when both women were at the beginning of their careers when Ratner intimidated and assaulted them, as many abusers are wont to do.
A man with an aggressive personality and violent temper that was well known among the Hollywood set, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Ratner has categorically denied all the claims. Since it’s a hot button issue that studios are falling over themselves to avoid, Ratner has fortunately been taken to task for his appalling behaviour – Warner Bros. has severed ties with him and Ratner has decided to try for a lawsuit of his own, one for libel against the women who say he abused them.
8 DESPICABLE: James Toback
It was an explosive story when it came out, just days after the Weinstein scandal broke. 38 women (including actresses Selma Blair and Rachel McAdams) came forward to detail years of abuse they endured at the hands of Hollywood director James Toback. 38 may seem like a lot (it is), but just two days later, even more women came forward – about 200 more.
Like many Hollywood predators, Toback would use his cache as a director to entice young women, from ingénue actresses to random girls he came across on the street. Meetings that began as “interviews” or “auditions” would quickly devolve into something much more sinister, in which Toback would rub up against them (or rub himself) until he finished, then order the women to leave. Like Weinstein, Toback explained to these women that this was simply how business was done. And, considering that Weinstein operated in the same manner, clearly it WAS how business was being done. Fortunately, Toback is now under investigation by the Beverly Hills police.
7 DESPICABLE: Roman Polanski
Running with your tail between your legs is clearly an admission of guilt, and such was the response by another director. This time, it was Roman Polanski, who, in 1977, was charged and arrested for drugging and physically assaulting a girl, who was only 13-years-old at the time. After pleading guilty to one charge and being released from prison, Polanski fled to France when he heard that he might be charged again, where he remains.
While the 1977 case is certainly the most well known to the public, Polanski has a history of abusing and coercing his young actresses. Multiple women have come forward throughout the decades to allege that Polanski assaulted and abused them when they were underage, and in the past couple of days, six more women have come forward. Ranging in age from 9 to 16 at the time of the assaults that took place in the 1960s and 1970s, their voices may finally be heard after years of Polanski being lauded for his work despite his crimes.
6 DESPICABLE: Bill Cosby
Before Harvey Weinstein came to light, Bill Cosby was the man we pointed to when we discussed physical assault in Hollywood and appalling abuses of power. Cosby took things one step further, however, amassing a reputation for being a predator that spans 50 years, even as he was beamed into homes as the loveable father on The Cosby Show.
Numerous allegations of drugging and assault of many women saw Cosby get put in a courtroom, where even he acknowledged that he “acted inappropriately”. Unfortunately, the legacy of the man was too strong to combat, and despite overwhelming evidence and testimonies from his many victims, the jury was unable to come to a consensus and the case was declared a mistrial. While Cosby certainly hasn’t received a modicum of what he definitely deserves, it is somewhat comforting to know that no one with any sense of decency or the wellbeing of their career will ever work with the disgraced comedian again.
5 PROTECTED: Danny Masterson
As the veil shrouding some of the most beloved men in Hollywood has come down, some men have still been protected from the consequences of their actions. Case in point: Danny Masterson, of That 70s Show fame. During the height of the show’s run in the early-2000s, it has been alleged that Masterson violently physically assaulted four different women – and that he was protected by the Church of Scientology, which is why we haven’t heard of it until now.
The Church of Scientology bars its members from reporting one another to law enforcement, under threat of excommunication. Instead, they try to deal with things internally. However, since the Church clearly places a great deal of importance on its celebrity members, claims against those members often go unheeded. With an overwhelming amount of evidence to convict Masterson, many are calling upon Netflix to give him the Kevin Spacey treatment and cancel his show, The Ranch. As of now, there has been no action taken in that direction.
4 PROTECTED: Ed Westwick
Considering the fact that his most famous character, Chuck Bass, assaulted two women in the very first episode of Gossip Girl, it seemed only a matter of time before the actor who played him, Ed Westwick, would be found out doing the exact same thing. (Who can forget his assault of Jenny Humphrey and attempted r*pe of Serena?)
LA-based actor Kristina Cohen alleged that Westwick r*ped her three years ago in his apartment while she was there with a male friend. After choosing to go down for a nap, Cohen claims that she woke up to Westwick manhandling her, and that she attempted to fight him off. The most recent entry on our list, Westwick has yet to respond to the allegations, and we have yet to learn if Cohen was the only woman this happened to or if there are more who will come out of the woodwork. At this time, we have to say that he is still being protected by Hollywood, but time will tell how much longer he gets to keep that safety.
3 PROTECTED: Dustin Hoffman
Perhaps it’s because Dustin Hoffman seems so endearing that he hasn’t yet borne the brunt of Hollywood – and the public’s – anger. But, in late October of this year, two women came forward to allege that Hoffman behaved inappropriately with them.
The first incident occurred in 1985, when Hoffman was working on a TV adaptation of the play Death of a Salesman. The woman, Anna Graham Hunter, was only 17 at the time when Hoffman repeatedly groped her, despite knowing her age. Hunter also stated that Hoffman talked in explicit detail about intimate acts in front of her. Soon after Hunter’s declaration, TV writer Wendy Riss Gatsiounis said that Hoffman propositioned her during a 1991 meeting. In response, Hoffman did not deny the claims, and apologized for making either woman uncomfortable, stating, “It is not reflective of who I am.” As far as celebrity apologies go, Hoffman’s was a good one that didn’t excuse his behaviour, but we’ll see if it’s the last one he has to make.
2 PROTECTED: Nelly
In October of this year, rapper Nelly was arrested on his tour bus and charged with second-degree r*pe after a 21-year-old woman accused him of violently assaulting her on his tour bus after a concert. However, shortly after calling the police on Nelly and news outlets exploding with information about the alleged incident, the woman asked police to drop the investigation because she “believe[d] the system [was] going to fail her.”
Like many women who come forward with detailed stories about celebrities who abuse their power, the girl was denounced for wanting money and fame, despite the obvious argument that there are better, less emotionally-draining ways to go about that than accuse someone famous of a crime. Because of this, Nelly is protected by Hollywood, the media, and fans who consider the college student’s abrupt dropping of the case as tantamount to her own guilt, so we have no idea if justice will ever be served here.
1 PROTECTED: Casey Affleck
It’s a disturbing thing indeed when a man can go from being accused by multiple women of physical assault and harassment one year to winning an Academy Award– reluctantly presented to him by a woman who won the previous year for playing a victim of abuse herself, no less! But that’s the topsy-turvy world we live in, one in which Casey Affleck can come out from under court settlements to take home the gold.
In 2010, two women filed charges against Affleck while working on the set of the pseudo-documentary I’m Still Here. One alleged that Affleck had crawled into bed with her and groped her while another said that Affleck talked in graphic detail about intimate acts and ordered a member of the crew to expose himself to her. The claims were forgotten, until Affleck began to receive critical acclaim for Manchester By The Sea. Considering the fact that, despite the allegations, Affleck managed to win the highest honour in acting, says quite a bit about his protection in Hollywood and his privilege.