James Toback’s Sexual-Harassment Defense Might Be Worse Than Harvey Weinstein’s

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James Toback. Photo: Elisabetta A. Villa/WireImage

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more gonzo than Harvey Weinstein’s New York Times statement: Before more than 300 women accused James Toback of sexual harassment or assault, the writer-director got on the phone with Rolling Stone to discuss the 38 accusations that had then been reported by the Los Angeles Times. In a phone call with Rolling Stone writer Hillel Aron, Toback zigzagged between fury, denials, and promoting his newest movie (The Private Life of a Modern Woman, if you’re curious, starring Sienna Miller). “Lemme be really clear about this. I don’t want to get a pat on the back, but I’ve struggled seriously to make movies with very little money, that I write, that I direct, that mean my life to me,” Toback told Rolling Stone. “The idea that I would offer a part to anyone for any other reason than that he or she was gonna be the best of anyone I could find is so disgusting to me. And anyone who says it is a lying cocksucker or cunt or both. Can I be any clearer than that?” Narrator voice: Apparently, he could.

Me: No, that’s pretty clear.


Toback: Anyone who says that, I just want to spit in his or her fucking face. I’m sitting here with Sienna Miller. By the way, no one who’s ever worked with me would ever say anything like that. No one. But I’ve just finished a movie with Sienna, which you should see, and help to get out there, called The Private Life of a Modern Woman. But here, she’s sitting right here, so just say hello to her.


[Off-the-record conversations take place, before the phone is passed back to Toback.]


Toback: No, seriously, I find it offensive and insulting and disgusting, that people … Because it’s the opposite of the way I work. I don’t give my best friends parts unless they deserve them. Ever.

During the call, Rolling Stone confronts Toback with the names and accounts of two accusers: Ambika Leigh and Sari Kamin who both said Toback humped their legs. The director dismissed both accusations, saying he’s never heard of either woman. In the time since Toback spoke to Rolling Stone, Rachel McAdams and Selma Blair have both spoken to Vanity Fair, describing his alleged harassment in detail.

James Toback Gives Bizarre Defense Against Harassment Claims