The Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino, who has been a prominent voice in the #MeToo movement and believes she was blacklisted by Harvey Weinstein after refusing his sexual advances, has detailed a harrowing story of abuse in which a casting director tied her to a chair and gagged her with a condom.
In an interview with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s “HFPA In Conversation” podcast, the Oscar-winning actress, who was one of the first women to come forward in Ronan Farrow’s New Yorker article, shared her personal experience of harassment in the industry.
She said she had been pressured to have sexual relationships with leading industry figures including a man she described as, “A big director who has gotten Oscars and is known for his social justice profile.”
The most disturbing story concerns one of her ‘very first auditions’ when she was just 16, in which she was abused by a casting director.
Sorvino, 50, told the podcast: “In order to scare me for this horror movie scene, he tied me to a chair, he bruised my arm, and I was 16 years old, and then he gagged me, and I was all game because I’m trying to be scared for the scene.
“And at the end he takes the gag out of my mouth and he said, ‘Sorry for the prophylactic,’ so he had gagged me with a condom,” Sorvino said, adding, “It was so inappropriate, and what the heck was a casting director doing with a condom in his pocket in an audition?”
Sorvino said that ‘several times’ directors and others put pressure on her to ‘have a sexual relationship with them’ to get a part.
She claimed that friends of hers were advised: “You’re absolutely going to have to have sex with all kinds of people to advance your career,” and said, “I always refused all of those things, and lost out on certain acting opportunities in big movies because of it.”
The story about the major Oscar-winning director is bound to provoke a Hollywood guessing game, after Sorvino said the man told her, “at a very end-stage audition meeting, ‘You know, as I look at you my mind can’t help but traveling from the artistic possibilities to the sexual.’”
Sorvino said of her refusal to engage sexually with the man, “I know for a fact that’s why I didn’t get that part.”
Sorvino was one of many to accuse Weinstein of sexual harassment in a report published in the New Yorker last October. In the piece, Sorvino detailed how, after her Oscar-winning role in Mighty Aphrodite, the mogul made sexual advances toward her in a Toronto hotel room.
She said, “[I] didn’t really understand the law and I didn’t think I was important enough to make a big enough deal over. I just kind of tried to put it to the side and keep working and go on about my life.”
The Daily Beast previously reported that Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson believes he was fed false information about Sorvino by Miramax. The director said that after he expressed his interest in casting Sorvino and Ashley Judd, “I recall Miramax telling us they were a nightmare to work with and we should avoid them at all costs. This was probably in 1998.”
Jackson said he “had no reason to question what these guys were telling us” but added, “In hindsight, I realise that this was very likely the Miramax smear campaign in full swing.”