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Aaron Sorkin has responded to the allegations of bullying and workplace misconduct against producer Scott Rudin, saying his former collaborator “got what he deserves” before explaining why he personally remained silent in the aftermath.
In an interview with Vanity Fair published Thursday, Sorkin told the magazine, “I think Scott got what he deserves,” but says that because “he’s lying flat on the mat right now,” Sorkin isn’t sure “how it’s helpful for me to stand on his torso and kind of jump up and down.”
This is partly why the writer-director-producer and former Rudin collaborator says he hasn’t spoken out about the allegations and reports, even as he’s been named in stories highlighting his silence. Those stories, Sorkin said, imply his lack of response somehow endorses and diminishes what Rudin did, or suggests that he and other collaborators are trying to leave the door open to “work with him when and if he makes a comeback.”
He denies this, sharing that while he doesn’t have social media, he has had opportunities to respond, including an ask from The New York Times. But the decision was, for him, about who would benefit from him speaking out.
“The reason I didn’t was, again, he’s flat on the mat, and I couldn’t think of anyone who would benefit from my saying something but me. That I get to stand there and say, ‘Hey, I’m with the good guys.’ And it just didn’t feel right to do that.”
Sorkin did share that had consequences for Rudin not followed in the wake of the Hollywood Reporter story published on April 7, he would have spoken up. “I think that if the Hollywood Reporter story had come out and nothing had happened as a result — that everybody just kind of shrugged and said, ‘Oh, well, that’s Scott, that’s show business’ — I would have felt compelled to say something, to say, ‘Why are we still working with him? We shouldn’t do this.’ But that isn’t what happened. The consequences came swiftly, and he sort of got the maximum penalty you can get for this.”
Sorkin also responded to those who characterized the knowledge of Rudin’s abuse as “something everybody knew,” telling the magazine that that is “ludicrous.” He said that not only did everyone not know, but that he doesn’t “know anybody who knew.” He then elaborated on his personal experience with the producer, calling it “a higher class of bullying.”
“The stories that I had heard over the last 12 years were the kinds of things that — they could have been scenes from The Devil Wears Prada, there was no violence,” he said. “There’s nothing physical at all in the stories that I heard. Had I known, there’s no chance I would’ve tolerated it, there’s no chance Bart Sher [director of Sorkin’s Rudin-produced Broadway adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird] would’ve tolerated it, that Jeff Daniels [who plays Atticus Finch] would’ve tolerated it. So, we didn’t know. And once we did, we did something about it.”
Reading the allegations in THR‘s story, Sorkin said — after having worked “a lot” with Rudin in the last 12 years — was painful, “particularly because it’s pretty likely that some of those assistants who were being abused were working on something I wrote while they were being abused.”
“So, I took it personally. Whether it’s a movie set, or a rehearsal room for a play, or backstage for a play, or a television series, morale is important to me. And I take a lot of pride in creating a place where people are really happy to come to work, where they feel a sense of ownership, a sense of authorship, a sense of family. And we have that at Mockingbird. We’ve always had that in Mockingbird. So this came as a big shock,” he said.
THR’s April story offered detailed accounts from multiple former Rudin assistants and employees, who leveled myriad allegations of misconduct and abuse — including having items like teacups and potatoes thrown at them — while working for the producer. More details also emerged in a follow-up June 23 story, reporting that actress Frances McDormand and director Joel Coen had witnessed Rudin berating one of his assistants before she quit. The duo later responded to those allegations, denying that they had seen misbehavior, with Coen telling Deadline that, from his point of view, “whoever is saying we did see it is not being honest. So, that makes me skeptical of anything else that particular person might be saying.”
In the wake of the reporting, Rudin stepped back from multiple film and theater projects, including his role with The Broadway League, stage productions like The Music Man and Moulin! Rouge, as well as A24’s upcoming Jennifer Lawrence-led film Red, White and Water and Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth, which stars Denzel Washington and McDormand.
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