Eliza Dushku, star of TV’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel” and “Tru Calling,” came forward on Saturday to recount incidents of sexual abuse that she alleged occurred while she was working on one of her earliest roles as the daughter of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis in the 1994 film “True Lies.”
In a disturbing post published to her Facebook page early Saturday morning, Dushku detailed multiple incidents allegedly involving the film’s stunt coordinator, Joel Kramer, who she remembered building trust with her that led to being alone with him in his hotel room.
“I remember vividly how he methodically drew the shades and turned down the lights,” she wrote, “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.”
She also hinted that an injury she suffered on set may have been intentional, recounting how Kramer was responsible for her safety during multiple shoots, adding, “My life was literally in his hands: he hung me in the open air, from a tower crane, atop an office tower, 25+ stories high. Whereas he was supposed to be my protector, he was my abuser.”
Had I known about it, there would have been no mercy.
Speaking to Deadline in response to the allegations, Kramer said, “These are outlandish, manipulated lies. I never sexually molested her. I’m sick to my stomach. It’s not true. I think she’s making this up in her imagination. This is all lies. Lies, lies, lies. This is just crazy. I treated her like a daughter. We all looked out for her.”
“Why speak out now?” Dushku’s post continued, “I was 12, he was 36. It is incomprehensible. Why didn’t an adult on the set find his predatory advances strange — that over-the-top special attention he gave me. Fairly early on he nicknamed me “Jailbait” and brazenly called me by this name in a sick flirty way in front of others (at the time, I remember asking one of my older brothers what it meant).”
The actress, who has also appeared in “Bring It On” and “Dollhouse,” cited the current climate, which has seen multiple accounts of abuse of power in Hollywood and elsewhere, as assisting her with the decision to come forward: “With every person that speaks out, every banner that drops down onto my iphone screen disclosing similar stories/truths, my resolve strengthens.
“Sharing these words, finally calling my abuser out publicly by name, brings the start of a new calm,” she wrote.
Hours after Dushku came forward with the allegations, James Cameron who wrote and directed “True Lies,” praised the bravery of the actress.
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.
“I haven’t given a lot of thought to this specific situation,” Cameron 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.”
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 stunt coordinator 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.”
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.”
Follow me over here @chrisbarton.
7:15 p.m.: This post was updated with comments from director James Cameron as reported by Times staff writer Yvonne Villarreal. This story was originally published at 2 p.m.