In an exclusive interview with Variety, actress Ashley Judd spoke out for the first time about an incident of sexual harassment, which she alleged was perpetrated on her nearly 20 years ago.
While filming Kiss the Girls for Paramount Pictures in 1997, Judd describes being summoned to the hotel room of a high-ranking executive from another movie studio:
“He was very stealth and expert about it,” Judd said. “He groomed me, which is a technical term — Oh, come meet at the hotel for something to eat. Fine, I show up. Oh, he’s actually in his room. I’m like, Are you kidding me? I just worked all night. I’m just going to order cereal. It went on in these stages. It was so disgusting. He physically lured me by saying, ‘Oh, help me pick out what I’m going to wear.’ There was a lot that happened between the point of entry and the bargaining. There was this whole process of bargaining — ‘Come do this, come do this, come do this.’ And I would say, ‘No, no, no. … The ultimate thing when I was weaseling out of everything else was, [he asked] ‘Will you watch me take a shower?’”
Judd also claimed that she’s aware of other woman who have also been harassed by this same man, who she did not name. “I have a feeling we are a legion,” she said. “I was with a bunch of other actors, and it was critical that it was actors: The exact same thing had happened to them by the exact same mogul. Only when we were sitting around talking about it did we realize our experiences were identical.”
And the other woman, Judd said, also were asked by the man to watch him take a shower. “All the other women, sitting around this table with me, said, ‘Oh my god — that’s what he said to me too.’ In that moment, I told him something like, ‘When I win an Academy Award in one of your movies.’ He said, ‘No, when you get nominated.’ I said, ‘No, no, when I win an Academy Award.’ That was a small moment of power when I was able to contradict him and hold to my reality. And then I got out of there. And by the way, I’ve never been offered a movie by that studio. Ever.”
Two years after the alleged incident, Judd said she was face to face with the man at the after-party of a movie premiere. She said: “I was getting ready to say something out loud across the crowded table to him. He looked at me and tried to shut it down. I was no longer that naïve ingénue who couldn’t identify what was happening as it was happening. I was getting ready to nail him on it, and he said, ‘I think I’ll let you out of that deal we made.’ He knew I would come into my power.”
Initial comments on Variety’s message board hailed Judd as brave for telling her story, but wished that she had outed the individual in question, especially since Judd revealed that other women have also been harassed by the same man. She did say that he was “one of our industry’s most famous, admired-slash-rivaled bosses” and explained that “there was a really big feature that was done on this person in a national magazine, and there were all these allegations that [he] controlled the interview and had people listening in.”
Piece that clue together with the fact that she was never offered a movie by that man’s studio, and that whirring is a thousand entertainment journalists scrolling down her IMDb.com page and logging in to Nexus.