Dozens of women have come forward with their experiences in recent weeks, fleshing out a pattern of sexual harassment and misconduct allegedly committed by James Toback. With multiple complaints of assault now lodged against the director, Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo looks back on an incident with Toback in which she called him out on his sexual behavior. “I actually did have a situation with James Toback where I kind of told him to go (expletive) himself,” the actress recalled to USA Today about their meeting. “It was held in a public place and I brought a man — my friend Tony. And he didn’t like that at all. And I could tell that,” says Pompeo. “I could tell instantly that he was, like, no good. The minute my friend left, he asked me if I would get naked in a movie. And I was like, ‘Really, dude? My friend has been missing all of 30 seconds and now you say that?’ I kind of laughed in his face.”
But while Toback has been accused of a history of alleged sexual behavior that is extremely similar to accusations made against former studio head Harvey Weinstein (masturbating in front of actresses, verbally sexually harassing employees, etc.), Pompeo says she dodged Weinstein’s misconduct. “I met with Harvey at the Peninsula and he didn’t try anything on me,” says the actress. “I was very lucky. I escaped those clutches.” The Grey’s star then went on to reveal that actresses’ constant need to win over powerful men is an element of the entertainment industry that helped convince her to stay in Shondaland. “I’ve been so lucky and maybe part of my choice to stay was (due to) knowing exactly what my environment was,” she says. “Even though I didn’t have any terrible experiences like some of these poor girls, this is the environment and you’re aware of it. I’m very grateful in my choice to stay in my safe space.” USA says they reached out to Toback’s representatives for comment on Pompeo’s account. In response, the rep “said they do not work with him. No other publicist, agent or attorney could be identified.” The director has previously denied accusations made against him.