Actresses Claim Audition for Ashley Judd Film ‘Trafficked’ Featured Simulated Rape, Left Them Bruised

Several actresses who auditioned for a role in a recent Ashley Judd-starring film about sex trafficking have described how the audition process left them physically bruised and scared for their safety.

At least five actresses who auditioned for Trafficked — which starred Judd, Sean Patrick Flanery and Jason London, among others, and was released in October — told the Hollywood Reporter that one group callback audition for the film was unlike any they had previously attended.

The audition reportedly consisted of a scene meant to simulate the environment inside a Texas brothel, and the actresses told THR that the rehearsal at times turned physical, reporting being dragged, pinched or otherwise grabbed.

One actress, Sanchita Malik, told the Screen Actors’ Guild following the May 2015 audition that she had been licked, had had her body pushed up against a wall and her hair pulled during the session, according to THR. Malik also claimed that the audition featured a simulated rape, with an actor “pretending to force his penis in me,” and that she suffered from panic attacks following the alleged incident.

Another actress described the audition to THR as “unnecessary and overkill,” and said the women had been caught off guard by the physicality of the process.

Actress Ashley Judd in ‘Trafficked.’ (Epic Pictures)

A still from the film ‘Trafficked.’ Several actresses claim one May 2015 callback audition featured unnecessary physical contact and left them bruised and frightened. (Epic Pictures)

“I think we all definitely had some bruises when we left,” one of the actresses, who chose to remain anonymous, told the outlet, while another added that the audition left her “scared out of [her] mind.”

Actresses taking part in the audition were also reportedly instructed to use a “safe word” if the proceedings got out of hand, though none were reported to have used it. The safe word was “Will,” the first name of director Will Wallace, who was reportedly removed from the project during post-production over a creative disagreement involving the film’s depiction of rape.

In a statement to THR, the film’s producers said they found Malik’s claims “deeply distressing” but described her account of the session as an “embellishment and exaggeration,” and charged that the actress had only come forward with her story after failing to secure a lead role in the film.

Meanwhile, one of the actresses claims that so-called “letters of reflection” they had written since the audition — some of which included sensitive information about previous sexual trauma — had been forwarded by producers to THR without their consent in an attempt to show the news outlet that there had been no improper conduct. An attorney for the producers told THR in a statement that because the letters were provided voluntarily by the actresses, they were free to “do with them what they wish.”

One actress who participated in the audition, Alpa Banker, defended the audition session, acknowledging it was unique and challenging but arguing it fell well short of sexual harassment or assault.

“We were suburban first-world girls pretending to be trafficked,” Banker told THR. “How else to understand? It’s like stage combat. You have to go with it, like a dance. The ethics of letting things go that far? I don’t know how other directors have handled it, but I think it was a useful exercise. It wasn’t traumatic.”

The controversy surrounding the audition comes at as a particularly sensitive time for Hollywood, which has seen scores of prominent industry figures accused of sexual harassment or assault in recent weeks.

In statements to THR, Wallace said many actresses “welcome” more physical audition processes for more intense-than-usual roles, but added that he would “re-evaluate” how he handles such matters in the future.

Trafficked opened in limited release in early October, but grossed just $19,698 from 17 screens, for a dismal $613 per-screen average. The film was also panned by critics.

 

Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum


Comment count on this article reflects comments made on Breitbart.com and Facebook. Visit Breitbart's Facebook Page.