Actress Julianna Margulies has added her own frightening experiences with Harvey Weinstein and Steven Seagal to the cascade of allegations of sexual harassment and assault in the entertainment world.
In a Friday interview on SiriusXM’s “Just Jenny,” the “Good Wife” star talked about two troubling encounters with Seagal and Weinstein earlier in her career.
When she was 23, Margulies said, a female casting director sent her to Seagal’s apartment at 10 p.m. to read a scene. The casting director pushed past the actress’s objections by offering to reimburse the cab fare and promising that she would be present as well. But when Margulies arrived later that night, she said she found herself alone with the action movie star.
“She set me up,” Margulies said of the woman who arranged the audition.
The encounter with Seagal quickly turned threatening, the actress recalled. “He made sure that I saw his gun, which I’d never seen a gun in real life,” Margulies said. “I got out of there unscathed. ... I don’t know how I got out of that hotel room. ... I sort of squirmed my way out.”
She said Seagal tried to turn the supposed audition into a sexual encounter with a tactic also allegedly practiced by Weinstein. “It always starts with ‘I’m a healer, I wanna massage you,’” she said.
Several years later, in 1996, Margulies said she was invited to meet with Weinstein. She said another woman brought her to the hotel, promising that if she met with the film producer she’d be given a screen test for a possibly award-winning role in a major movie. After her disturbing encounter with Seagal, however, Margulies was wary.
“I said, ‘I’m not going up there alone’ ― because of the Seagal experience and because I had a career,” said Margulies, who was on the hit show “ER” at the time.
After the actress insisted she would go home if the other woman didn’t join her, the two of them went to Weinstein’s hotel room together.
“He opened the door in a bathrobe,” Margulies recalled. “I could see that there were candles lit in the room, and there was a dinner for two. And I saw him stare at her, daggers.” She turned to the other woman and “caught her in a shrug, like, ‘What could I do?’”
Weinstein looked “furious,” Margulies said. He told her, “Just wanted to say, ‘Good audition,’” and then slammed the door, she said. She did not get the part.
Margulies joins a list of more than 50 women who have stepped forward to accuse Weinstein of sexual misconduct, with allegations ranging from attempted harassment to rape. Following two explosive exposés in The New York Times and The New Yorker, and numerous additional women then stepping forward to share similar experiences, Weinstein was fired from the Weinstein Company, which he co-founded with his brother, and expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Police departments in Los Angeles and London are reportedly investigating rape allegations made against him. The New York Police Department confirmed on Friday that it has been gathering evidence for a “credible rape allegation,” which could lead to his arrest.
Seagal has previously been accused of inappropriate conduct as well. In 1998, actress Jenny McCarthy discussed leaving an audition distraught after Seagal repeatedly insisted that she undress. In 2010, he was sued for sexual harassment by a former assistant who claimed in the lawsuit that he had used her as a “sex toy.” The lawsuit was later dropped. In October of this year, “Inside Edition” correspondent and actress Lisa Guerrero said she was repeatedly pressured to audition alone with Seagal at his home for a role in the 1997 movie “Fire Down Below.”
During Friday’s interview, Margulies said the recent wave of public allegations led her to realize that she’d “swept everything under the rug. You shrug it off as that’s just Hollywood.”
She also pointed to the role of some women in enabling predatory male behavior, noting that she was introduced to both situations by other women in the business.
“We have to start holding these people accountable,” Margulies said. “These women were leading me to the lion’s den.”