Mira Sorvino‘s experiences with sexual harassment in Hollywood started early.
In an interview with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s HFPA In Conversation podcast, the 50-year-old actress revealed that her negative experiences in the industry stemmed far beyond her accusations against disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.
“In looking back over at my career, I realized that one of my very first auditions when I was 16, I was completely treated inappropriately by the casting director,” she explained without naming the man. “In order to scare me for this horror movie scene, he tied me to a chair, he bruised my arm, and I was 16 years old, and then he gagged me, and I was all game because I’m trying to be scared for the scene.”
Sorvino continued, “And at the end he takes the gag out of my mouth and he said, ‘Sorry for the prophylactic,’ so he had gagged me with a condom. I was too young to even know, thank God, what a condom tasted like. It was so inappropriate, and what the heck was a casting director doing with a condom in his pocket in an audition?”
The Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion star added that she’s lost roles for refusing a director’s sexual advances.
She recalled “one big director who has got Oscars and known for his social justice profile in some of these movies literally said to me at a very end stage audition meeting, ‘You know, as I look at you my mind can’t help but traveling from the artistic possibilities to the sexual.’ I think my mouth just opened and my silence was deafening.”
And that wasn’t the only incident—Sorvino said that there were “several times” when a director or someone on casting pushed for a relationship in exchange for a part. What’s more, everyone in Hollywood expected it.
“I’ve had friends who were told, ‘You’re going to absolutely have to have sex with all kinds of people to advance your career,'” she explained.
Sorvino also expressed her regret over working with director Woody Allen—whose adopted daughter Dylan has publicly claimed that Allen molested her as a child, an accusation he denies—despite winning the Oscar for her role in his 1995 film Mighty Aphrodite.
“I have since gotten to know Dylan and I believe her,” Sorvino said. “She’s a wonderful person and I think she’s been maligned for a long time… we can’t just wish away with cognitive dissonance the fact that our heroes are capable of doing something heinous, and he was my hero.”
Sorvino explained during an appearance on Today last month that when she stopped getting as many calls for roles, she just assumed she had “had too many children” or it was simply “bad luck.” However, director Peter Jackson revealed in December that the Weinstein brothers warned him that Sorvino and fellow accuser Ashley Judd were difficult to work with when he was casting Lord of the Rings. Bad Santa director Terry Zwigoff then made similar claims.
“It was like a thunderbolt. It was kind of crazy. I was like, ‘Oh. So, it was really this malevolent hand that changed the course of my life and my professional horizons?'” she said.
The star said she is proud to be part of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, and she’s currently working on anti-sexual harassment legislation in California.
“For women and boys and girls to know their rights, all of this will have been worth it in some crazy way,” Sorvino explained on Today. “If culture’s going to change, and less people will be sexually assaulted because of this movement—and this outcry among millions across the world—then it was all worth it.”