Exchanging sexual favors for a coveted job happens in every industry; however, in Hollywood, casting couch stories are especially prevalent.
Before celebrities catch their big breaks in Hollywood, they have to go through what every other aspiring star has to go through – auditioning. There is so much competition in Hollywood that some struggling actors/actresses will do whatever it takes to get the role. This desperateness on one end, and surplus of power on the other end, has led to the ‘casting couch’ mentality in the entertainment industry. The ‘casting couch’ refers to the exchange of sexual favors for film roles between casting directors or film producers and aspiring actresses or actors. Many Hollywood executives deny that the ‘casting couch’ exists in the entertainment industry, but these celebrities disagree. Here are twelve celebrities’ casting couch horror stories.
12. Lisa Rinna
Lisa Rinna opened up to Popeater.com in 2010, about a casting-couch experience she had with a producer when she was 24-years-old. “I lost a role on a big TV series because I wouldn’t bend over a chair in a producer’s office for ‘just a quickie,'” Lisa stated. “‘Just pull your panties down and bend over and the role is yours,’ he said to me.” Rinna saw the producer years later, when she was on Melrose Place and told him, “I know everyone in this town and if you ever do what you did to me again to anyone else I will tell everyone your dirty secret.”
11. Joan Collins
Back in the 1960’s, Joan Collins was trying to make a name for herself in Hollywood. She was auditioning for the role of Cleopatra and was the front runner for the part. Collins reports that she was asked to go to bed with the head of the studio and that he asked her if she really wanted the part. She replied, “Yes.” He responded, “Well, then you’ll have to be nice to me.” Joan turned down his advance by walking out and Elizabeth Taylor ended up getting the role.
10. Corey Feldman
In 2011, Corey Feldman did an interview with Nightline, where he stated several shocking comments. Feldman commented, “I can tell you that the No. 1 problem in Hollywood was and is and always will be pedophilia. That’s the biggest problem for children in this industry … It’s the big secret.” He added, “I was surrounded by [pedophiles] when I was 14 years old … Didn’t even know it. It wasn’t until I was old enough to realize what they were and what they wanted … till I went, Oh, my God. They were everywhere.” Feldman, now in his 40’s, released a memoir in 2013 that detailed the sexual abuse that him and the late actor, Corey Haim experienced as child actors in Hollywood.
9. Jenny McCarthy
In 1998, Jenny McCarthy spoke with Movieline about a casting couch horror story that she had endured while auditioning for the film, Under Siege 2. McCarthy even revealed the alleged harasser, as Steven Seagal. Jenny explained that she was the last girl to audition for the day and she entered Seagal’s office, stating, “Well, I’m ready to read.” According to McCarthy, Steven replied, “Stand up, you have to be kind of sexy in the movie and in that dress, I can’t tell.” Jenny stood up and Seagul stated, “Take off your dress.” Jenny questioned and Steven replied, “There’s nudity.” She said, “No there’s not, or I wouldn’t be here right now.” Jenny ended up crying and running out of his office. Steven Seagul has since denied these allegation.
8. Susan Sarandon
In the November 2012 issue of Elle, Susan Sarandon revealed a casting couch nightmare that had occurred when she first started out in New York City. The Oscar winning actress stated, “I just went into a room, and a guy practically threw me on the desk. It was my early days in New York, and it was really disgusting. It wasn’t like I gave it a second thought. It was so badly done.” Susan Sarandon has gone on to have a very successful career and is now worth an estimated $50 million.
7. Ryan Phillippe
In April 2010, Ryan Phillippe told Howard Stern while appearing on his radio talk show about a bizarre casting couch experience he had. Ryan said when he was 19-years-old that he had to flee a “creepy” casting-couch session. Phillippe never publicly went into further details regarding the incident. However, his story shows that casting-couch victims aren’t only females. They’re males too.
6. Thandie Newton
Thandie Newton, best known for her roles in films like The Pursuit of Happyness, Crash and The Chronicles of Riddick, disclosed information about being sexually abused by a casting director when she was a teenager. Thandie told CNN in February 2013 about her casting couch experience stating, “The director asked me to sit with my legs apart, and the camera was positioned where it could see up my skirt. He asked me to put my leg over the arm of the chair, and before I started my dialogue, think about the character I was supposed to be having the dialogue with and how it felt to be made love to by this person.” Newton also asserted that the director told her to touch herself, before focusing the camera between her legs. Thandie added that he circulated the film at parties as well.
5. Gwyneth Paltrow
In 2010, Gwyneth Paltrow was asked by Elle magazine during an interview if she ever had a casting-couch experience. Paltrow responded, “Yup.” She added, “When I was just starting out, someone suggested that we finish a meeting in the bedroom. I left. I was pretty shocked. I could see how someone who didn’t know better might worry, ‘My career will be ruined if I don’t give this guy a bl** j**!’” Clearly declining this man’s advance wasn’t detrimental to Paltrow’s career. She has starred in films like Shakespeare in Love, Iron Man, Se7en and Country Song. Gwyneth is also an Oscar winner and worth an estimated $45 million.
4. Megan Fox
Megan Fox’s experiences with casting-couch situations show that it can happen to any actress/actor, no matter what point they are at in their career. In 2009, Fox told British GQ, “Any casting-couch shit I’ve experienced has been since I’ve become famous. It’s really so heartbreaking. Some of these people! Like Hollywood legends. You think you’re going to meet them and you’re so excited, like, ‘I can’t believe this person wants to have a conversation with me,’ and you get there and you realize that’s not what they want, at all. It’s happened a lot this year actually.”
3. Charlize Theron
Charlize Theron, best known for her roles in films like Monster, North Country and Snow White and the Huntsmen, had a casting-couch experience when she was 19-years-old. She had just moved to Hollywood from South Africa, and didn’t have a grasp on the casting process. Theron opened up to OK! magazine in 2009 stating, “I thought it was a little odd that the audition was on a Saturday night at his house in Los Angeles, but I thought maybe that was normal. He was in his Hugh Hefner pajamas—I go inside and he’s offering me a drink, and I’m thinking, ‘My God this acting stuff is very relaxed.’ But it soon becomes very clear what the situation was. I was like, ‘Not going to happen! Got the wrong girl, buddy!’”
2. Helen Mirren
Helen Mirren had a casting-couch experience in 1964, with director Michael Winner and in 2007, she opened up about it. During a TV interview with the UK talk show, Richard & Judy, Mirren elicited how Winner made her flaunt her body and turn around for him. Helen stated, “I was mortified and incredibly angry. I thought it was insulting and sexist, and I don’t think any actress should be treated like that-like a piece of meat-at all.” Michael Winner was asked about the incident and denied it ever happening. “I don’t remember asking her to turn around, but if I did I wasn’t being serious. I was only doing what the [casting] agent asked me—and for this I get reviled! Helen’s a lovely person, she’s a great actress and I’m a huge fan, but her memory of that moment is a little flawed,” Winner explained to The Guardian.
1. Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe had many casting-couch experiences, but unlike the other celebrities mentioned, Monroe took up these offers. She traded sexual favors with producers, directors and actors to get ahead in her career. According to Barbara Leaming’s biography on Marilyn Monroe “When Marilyn approached Howard Hawks one weekend in Palm Springs, the director made it clear that he saw nothing special about her. He thought she was stupid and told her so. He wasn’t even interested in a sexual encounter.” – Ouch! Although Marilyn Monroe admitted to sleeping with people to advance her career, she would later call Hollywood ‘an overcrowded brothel.’