Julianna Margulies Recalls a Meeting With Steven Seagal and His Gun: "I Was Scared"
“He lifted up the cushion and he took out his gun. And I had never seen a gun in my life, not up close. And I said, 'Oh, my god.' I started getting very sweaty," the 'Dietland' actress said on Katie Couric's podcast.
Julianna Margulies opened up about her uncomfortable meeting with a gun-toting Steven Seagal for The Katie Couric Podcast on Thursday, where she also addressed the #MeToo movement and Matt Damon's "spectrum of behavior" controversy.
The Dietland star told Couric that her “horrific” hotel meeting with Seagal, who has been accused of sexual harassment by multiple women, took a dark turn when she realized he had a gun hidden in the couch.
“I walked in and I sat down and I jumped right back up because there was something very uncomfortable and hard in the couch. He laughed and said, 'Oh, sorry, that must have been my gun,'” the actress told Couric. “He lifted up the cushion and he took out his gun. And I had never seen a gun in my life, not up close. And I said, 'Oh, my god.' I started getting very sweaty and he said, 'Oh, it’s just for all the crazies that are out there. I have to protect myself.'”
After a casting director informed the then-recent college graduate that Seagal wanted to go over a scene with her in his hotel room, Margulies visited the actor, believing the female casting director would be accompanying her. Margulies quickly learned that she was alone with an armed actor.
“I started getting angry at myself. Because my inner dialogue was, 'You stupid idiot. How could you have done this? No one knows where you are, and you’re in a hotel room alone with this guy and he’s got a gun. How stupid. You’re stupid.’ I was just chastising myself,” Margulies recalled.
Margulies continued to grow uncomfortable after the actor informed her that he was a “healer” and requested she allow him to read her palm, something the actress recalled being odd and comical. “He told me I had really weak kidneys. At that point, to be honest, as a New York girl, I kind of started laughing inside. Like, this guy’s pathetic. Does he think I’m buying this line of crap? ... I just started talking a lot out of nerves. ...I squirmed my way out of there.”
Though the actress left “sweating” and with a “pounding” heart, she had to return to Seagal’s hotel room, after realizing she had no cab fare. Prior to their meeting, Margulies had requested that she be reimbursed for her trip to Brooklyn. “I went back and I knocked on the door, and he smirked, and I think he thought I was coming back, like, ‘Oh, she got smart.’ And I stayed on the other side of the door and I held my hand out and I said, ... 'It cost me $15 to get here and I need cab fare to get home,” the actress explained.
After Seagal supplied her with money, Margulies rushed away. “I couldn’t believe it. I thought if I just survived Steven Seagal and a gun in a hotel room by myself, I can handle a subway back to Brooklyn.” The actress would later land the role in Out for Justice, but warned the film’s team that she refused to meet with Seagal alone. “I said to everyone in there, I know you don’t know me, but I’d really appreciate it if no one would ever let me be in the room alone with him. Because I was scared.”
Margulies’ story comes in wake of the #MeToo movement, which has seen a slew of Hollywood figures being accused of sexual harassment and assault. Apart from female empowerment, the actress explained that the movement has also instigated a conversation as to what qualifies as everyday bad behavior and sexual assault, something she defends Damon on attempting to speak out about. The actor received backlash after arguing that there’s a “continuum” and “hierarchy of abuse” with predatory behavior.
“Matt Damon tried to do that, quite eloquently, and he got demonized,” Margulies argued. “I didn’t think that was right. I understood what he was saying. He was completely compassionate about what was going with people who are raping, but it’s not the same as what’s going on with people who are joking around on a set. You have to differentiate between what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable. The dialogue has been opened, finally, after all these years. The reason the pendulum swung so far was that women, it’s been bubbling under the surface and this tiny little opening happened, and we all just ran out of that one ripped seam.”
In light of the #MeToo movement, the actress admitted to Couric that she too has endured “invasive” experiences with men after a man once got underneath her legs to look under her skirt. Margulies added that the current climate has marked an “empowering” change among both men and women, but it's important "not to pit women against men." "This isn’t about women against bad guys. This is about people who abuse power. I think what’s important to remember is that there is also women who abuse their power. This whole movement, I feel, has been bubbling under the surface for years. ... It's just the beginning.”
Marguilies also added, "I truly do think that when you’re desperate for a job and you’re excited and you want to act and here is someone offering you something, you don’t think that’s going to happen, but now you will. So hopefully now that conversation will protect the next generation of actors."
Listen to the full audio of Couric's interview with Margulies below.