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Hours after actress Eliza Dushku came forward in a Facebook post alleging she was sexually assaulted by a stunt coordinator on the 1994 James Cameron film “True Lies,” the prolific director praised her bravery.
Cameron attended the Television Critics Assn. winter press tour in Pasadena on Saturday to discuss his installment of the recurring “AMC Visionaries” series. But the conversation took a more serious turn when he was asked about Dushku’s Facebook post published early Saturday morning that detailed alleged misconduct by the film’s stunt coordinator, Joel Kramer, when she was 12. Kramer denied the allegations in a statement to Deadline.
“I haven’t given a lot of thought to this specific situation,” Cameron, who wrote and directed the 1994 film, told reporters. “I just heard about it. But I mean, obviously, Eliza is very brave for speaking up, and I think all the women are that are speaking out and calling for a reckoning now.”
Had I known about it, there would have been no mercy.
Cameron, whose cinematic footprint also includes “Terminator” and “Avatar,” described what Dushku detailed in her post as “heartbreaking.” The director went on to note that he had not worked with Kramer since “True Lies” and acknowledged the need for an open and supportive system to report such misconduct.
“I know the other party — not well,” Cameron said. “He hasn't worked for me since then. The fact that this was happening under our noses and we didn’t know about it, I think going forward it’s important for all industries —certainly Hollywood — to create a safe avenue for people to speak up. That they feel safe and that anybody who might be a predator or an abuser knows that that mechanism is there … and that there will be consequences. I think we all collectively, just as a human race, have to do that. I don’t think this is a Hollywood problem.”
Dushku played the daughter to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis in the action film before starring in such TV series as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Dollhouse” and films such as “Bring It On.”
“I remember vividly how he methodically drew the shades and turned down the lights,” she wrote in a Facebook post, “how he cranked up the air-conditioning to what felt like freezing levels, where exactly he placed me on one of the two hotel room beds, what movie he put on the television (Coneheads); how he disappeared in the bathroom and emerged, naked, bearing nothing but a small hand towel held flimsy at his mid-section.”
Cameron told reporters Saturday that he hopes the current climate will yield films “about this stuff and we’ll put something in place as an industry practice to do as much as we can to prevent it. Directors are historically pretty oblivious to interpersonal things that are happening on their set because they’re focused and are the worst offenders at being focused on ‘what I am doing creatively?’”
“Had I known about it,” he continued, “there would have been no mercy. Now, especially. I have daughters. There’s really no mercy now.”