As one of Hollywood’s most bankable and versatile filmmakers, Bryan Singer has taken on superheroes, film noir, World War II and ’70s rock ’n’ roll. But now the “X-Men” director is facing one of his biggest challenges — a new series of lurid sexual assault accusations.
An article published online Wednesday in the Atlantic contains new allegations against the director, including accounts from anonymous men who say they had sex with Singer when they were minors.
The article also contains an account of what happened behind the scenes on “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the Oscar-nominated movie from which Singer was fired as director before the completion of filming.
Singer’s lawyer, Andrew Brettler, told the Atlantic that Singer had never been arrested for or charged with any crime, and that Singer categorically denies ever having sex with, or having a preference for, underage boys.
Esquire had been expected to run a lengthy article on Singer late last year, but the piece never materialized. Instead, the reporters took their story to the Atlantic.
Singer called the Atlantic article a “homophobic smear piece” in a statement issued Wednesday:
“It’s sad that The Atlantic would stoop to this low standard of journalistic integrity. Again, I am forced to reiterate that this story rehashes claims from bogus lawsuits filed by a disreputable cast of individuals willing to lie for money or attention. And it is no surprise that, with ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ being an award-winning hit, this homophobic smear piece has been conveniently timed to take advantage of its success.”
The new article comes a day after “Bohemian Rhapsody” received five Oscar nominations, including best picture. Singer, 53, wasn’t nominated. The 20th Century Fox movie has been a box-office hit, grossing nearly $800 million worldwide.
The Atlantic article, set to appear in the March issue, contains an account from an accuser, “Andy,” who says he had sex with Singer when he was 15 at a Beverly Hills mansion in 1997. Another man, “Eric,” alleges he was 17 when he had sex with Singer that same year in the director’s house.
In the article, a man named Victor Valdovinos recalled that he was 13 when he worked as an extra on the 1998 movie “Apt Pupil.” He alleges that Singer groped his genitals and masturbated him underneath a towel he was wearing for a locker room scene. “He did it all with this smile,” Valdovinos told the magazine.
The Atlantic reporters said that their original Esquire article was mysteriously killed by the magazine’s owner, Hearst, after being vetted for publication.
“We do not know why,” said Alex French and Maximillian Potter in a statement released Wednesday. They said that the original article began with their Esquire editors, and that the article went through fact-checking and vetting by a Hearst attorney before being pulled.
Singer’s biggest claim to fame remains the “X-Men” movies — he has directed four of them, including the original 2000 installment. His first mainstream success was “The Usual Suspects,” the Oscar-winning 1995 noir mystery that provided a breakout role for Kevin Spacey.
But his career nearly derailed in December 2017, when Fox fired Singer from the Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Singer’s frequent absences from the movie’s U.K. set were widely reported as the reason for his dismissal from the movie.
The Atlantic alleges that Singer’s behavior on the movie was erratic and that he fought with actor Rami Malek. He told The Times this week he was unaware of the allegations against Singer.
At one point, actor Tom Hollander grew so frustrated with Singer that he threatened to quit, according to the article.
Singer left the production on Nov. 26 and was fired a week later. He is still credited as the sole director of “Bohemian Rhapsody” even though Dexter Fletcher was hired to replace him on the shoot.
His firing came just a few days before a lawsuit was filed against the filmmaker accusing him of having sexually assaulted a 17-year-old boy on a yacht more than a decade earlier. Cesar Sanchez-Guzman alleged in the complaint that at a party in 2003, Singer led him to a back room on the boat where the director forced him to engage in oral sex and raped him.
Afterward, Singer approached him on the yacht and both threatened and cajoled him with his power in Hollywood, Sanchez-Guzman said in an interview with The Times. “If you ever want to get into Hollywood, I could help you,” Sanchez-Guzman said Singer told him. The Atlantic’s story also recounts Sanchez-Guzman’s claims against Singer.
Singer denied the allegations through his attorney.
Fox cut ties with Singer’s production company, Bad Hat Harry Productions, amid the “Bohemian Rhapsody” fallout. The USC School of Cinematic Arts removed Singer’s name from its division of cinema and media studies.
Singer is reportedly set to direct a big-screen reboot of “Red Sonja,” in what would be his first movie job since being fired from “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
The director of “Valkyrie” and “Superman Returns” previously faced allegations in 2014 when former child actor Michael Egan made stunning claims in a federal lawsuit that Singer had repeatedly raped him in Los Angeles and Hawaii when he was a minor. The accusations, which named three other men, also included underage drinking, drug abuse and the promise of work in exchange for sex.
But the case eventually unraveled in bizarre fashion when Egan’s lawyer dropped his client and Egan was caught in apparent contradictions of his legal claims. Egan stood by his allegations but later pleaded guilty to fraud in an unrelated criminal case and was sent to prison.
Singer is the latest among a growing list of high-profile Hollywood figures who have been accused of sexual misconduct since dozens of women complained that they were abused or harassed by disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein.
The scandals have highlighted not only the mistreatment of women but also the abuse of minors working in the entertainment industry. Spacey issued an apology in 2017 after an actor said Spacey made an unwanted sexual advance toward him in 1986 when he was a 14-year-old boy.
Also in 2017, talent agency APA fired veteran agent Tyler Grasham after multiple claims of harassment or sexual harassment had been leveled against him.
During his career, Singer has been associated with individuals who would later get in trouble over allegations of abuse of underage boys.
Gary Goddard, an entrepreneur and producer, was an investor with Singer and other Hollywood figures in Digital Entertainment Network, or DEN, an early internet content streaming experiment that gained notoriety for hosting wild Hollywood parties where boys were being abused.
DEN co-founder Marc Collins-Rector pleaded guilty in 2004 to engaging in sexual activity with underage boys he lured to California with the promise of jobs and an extravagant lifestyle. The co-founders were sued by three boys who had been employed by DEN. They fled the country and were found liable for a multimillion-dollar default judgment.
Goddard was not a defendant in that case but has faced more recent claims of misconduct. Actor Anthony Edwards (“E.R.”) wrote an online essay in November 2017 alleging Goddard sexually abused him as a pubescent actor. Seven others from a youth theater group in Santa Barbara told The Times that Goddard molested them or attempted to molest them as boys. His publicist disputed the allegations as “full of innuendo and hearsay.”
A ninth accuser, Brian Claflin, who died in what appeared to be a suicide in Germany in 2014, told his lawyer and family that Goddard drugged and sexually assaulted him at age 18 when he was working as an errand boy for DEN. Goddard’s publicist said that his client denied assaulting Claflin “in any way” and that he viewed his death as tragic.