Director David O. Russell Accused of ‘History of Groping and On-Set Abuse’

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 27: Amy Adams and David O. Russell arrive for the Vanity Fai
Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images

Oscar-nominated writer-director David O. Russell has become the latest Hollywood figure to have been accused of sexual harassment and inappropriate on-set behavior as the scandal surrounding the entertainment industry’s treatment of women continues to deepen.

In an article for the Daily Beast published Tuesday, author Amy Zimmerman wrote that Russell’s history of allegedly inappropriate behavior has been “well-known and documented.”

“Anyone with access to the internet can find profiles that detail the Silver Linings Playbook director’s on-set harassment, interviews in which stars recount his cruel tactics, and even videos of Russell verbally abusing actors,” Zimmerman wrote of Russell’s alleged behavior on film sets.

The director,  who scored Oscar nominations for Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, has indeed been recorded on set, with some of the videos available on YouTube. In one video, filmed on the set of the 2004 movie I Heart Huckabees, Russell appears to berate actress Lily Tomlin, calling her a “c*nt” and a “bitch.”

[Warning: Strong Language]

The Daily Beast article also recalls an alleged on-set fight between Russell and George Clooney, when the two were shooting the 1999 film Three Kings.

Zimmerman writes:

Clooney claims that the director head-butted him, while Russell insists that the actor attacked him first. Talking to Playboy in 2000, Clooney recounted that the director “yelled and screamed at people all day, from day one.” He continued, “For me, it came to a head a couple of times. Once, he went after a camera-car driver who I knew from high school. I had nothing to do with his getting his job, but David began yelling and screaming at him and embarrassing him in front of everybody. I told him, “You can yell and scream and even fire him, but what you can’t do is humiliate him in front of people. Not on my set, if I have any say about it.”

The director has also been accused of verbally abusing actress Amy Adams on the set of American Hustle.

“He grabbed one guy by the collar, cursed out people repeatedly in front of others and so abused Amy Adams that Christian Bale got in his face and told him to stop acting like an asshole,” one journalist reportedly wrote to Sony CEO Michael Lynton in 2014. Adams later said in an interview that she was left “devastated” on set.

But perhaps the most serious allegation in the Beast report concerns a 2011 police report filed by the director’s niece, who was 19 at the time of an alleged incident. The teenager, who is transgender, reportedly accused Russell of putting his hand up her shirt and feeling both of her breasts.

The allegations against Russell come as dozens of women have spoken up about sexual harassment in the entertainment industry. The scandal exploded in early October when some women, including actress Ashley Judd, went on the record with the New York Times to allege decades of sexual harassment and abuse claims against Harvey Weinstein, who has since been fired from The Weinstein Company and expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Producers Guild of America.

But the scandal has continued to develop more than two weeks after the Times‘ first story. More than 200 women have accused Hollywood writer-director James Toback of sexual harassment or abuse, while other stars, including Scandal actor Tony Goldwyn and actress Anna Faris, have come forward with their own experiences with harassment in recent days.

Read the full Daily Beast article on Russell here.


Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum 


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