'Stranger Things' Star Finn Wolfhard Fires Agent Over Former Actor's Sexual Abuse Claim
Agent Tyler Grasham is currently on leave from APA, sources confirm, pending an internal investigation into the matter.
Finn Wolfhard — the 14-year-old actor who is having a banner year hot off the success of blockbuster It and the imminent release of season two of the Netflix phenom Stranger Things — has parted ways with APA and agent Tyler Grasham.
The move comes as Grasham is facing a string of claims that he sexually assaulted or acted inappropriately with young aspiring male actors, including actor-turned-filmmaker Blaise Godbe Lipman.
Grasham, a prominent agent at APA who also reps Hayley Orrantia, is currently on leave from the agency, sources confirm, while the company investigates the allegations. THR reached out to APA for comment and while the agency confirmed it is looking into the matter, a spokesperson declined to discuss or confirm the agent's status.
"APA takes these allegations extremely seriously and is investigating this matter," an agency spokesperson told THR. Additional questions regarding Grasham's employment were declined due to it being a confidential personnel matter.
It is understood that the agency has enlisted an independent, neutral investigator to research the claims. In light of the accusations, Grasham has set his Instagram to private and deleted his Facebook account.
As for Wolfhard, he has yet to sign with a new agency as of press time, but sources tell THR that CAA, WME, UTA and Paradigm are pursuing the young actor in the wake of his recent successes.
It's no coincidence that claims of sexual misconduct surfaced this week in light of the damning allegations facing industry mogul Harvey Weinstein. The story has pushed conversations about sexual misconduct and harassment to the forefront not only in Hollywood but also in the culture at large. Specifically, this claim brings to light the complicated issue of how gay men interact with one another in Hollywood, a conversation that has yet to reach the same fever pitch.
This particular story got kickstarted during the "Me Too" social media movement last weekend. The movement — with roots belonging to activist Tarana Burke and later supported by actress Alyssa Milano with #MeToo — continues to grow and, by some estimates, has elicited millions of responses.
One of those came from Lipman, who, on Oct. 15, used Facebook to allege that he had been assaulted by a prominent talent agent from the firm APA. He declined to name the agent Sunday night, but offered a few details: "We had a 'business' lunch to discuss potential [representation]. He ordered me a drink. I said I was 17. He said don't be rude, this is business, this is how things are done. I didn't know better. He got me drunk, etc etc etc. SUCH A TIRED CLICHE. ... He's still at APA representing tons of young talent, using a position of power to coerce young boys. Like [Harvey] Weinstein, everyone knows."
After sharing the post, Lipman tells THR that he received a "poke" on Facebook from Grasham despite the fact that they are not connected on the social media platform. The move prompted Lipman to post additional details and the name of the man he claims assaulted him.
The second post detailed the alleged "sexual assault at the hands of a man in a position of power in the entertainment industry," who he says "fed me alcohol while I was underage and sexually assaulted me." He added that after the alleged incident took place, and Lipman rejected him, Grasham would "have his friends drunkenly call me and berate me," in addition to orchestrating a smear campaign of sorts to damage his reputation and "out" him (Lipman, who is gay, was not out at the time). "I didn't do anything at the time. I was young and desperately wanted acceptance within the industry," he wrote.
In an interview with THR, Lipman says that he moved to Los Angeles from Northern California in the spring/summer of 2007, when he was 17 years old. (He would turn 18 in late June.) He claims to have met Grasham, who is also gay, through a mutual friend. The agent set him up with a string of meetings with managers to help secure him additional representation. "He was a respectable agent with good clients and I had heard of his company," he recalls. "He offered to give me advice and recommendations for my career and so we kept in touch."
Their friendly relationship switched, Lipman notes, during an encounter at Grasham's apartment where he claims the agent forced himself on the young man while on a sofa. Lipman says he rejected Grasham but was unsure of how to handle the situation. "I wish i could say I got up and left because I knew something was wrong. I wasn't sure if this was something I just had to put up with," explains Lipman, who after working on such shows as Weeds, CSI, Hawaii Five-0 and numerous Disney shows has gone on to direct short films and work with Ryan Murphy. He's now prepping his feature debut, Honey Lamb. "This is someone who had already taken proactive steps with me professionally, and I had been in his office. It's a very uncomfortable position to be in. Fortunately, today, we know what it means to be a victim. We have that language."
After Lipman's accusations made the move from social media to mainstream media — first posted by The Wrap's Matt Donnelly on Thursday — additional men came forward with claims. One of those, Lucas Ozarowski, shared details with THR of an interaction he had with Grasham in January 2016. "Tyler was trying to get me highly intoxicated. Buying me drink after drink. Eventually I had to start leaving them in the bathroom to avoid suspicion," he claims in a message sent to THR. Later than night, he alleges that "Tyler reaches over and shoves his hand aggressively down my front pants and grabs my genitalia. I forcibly rip his hand out get up, tell him 'That was highly inappropriate' and leave his home."
He adds: "I'd like to state that I have nothing against APA or Tyler's clientele. I wish them all the best through this tough time. Also I am thankful for the women who have come out against Harvey Weinstein. I do not wish to overshadow their struggle. Women, I believe, have it much worse in this industry and I hope this can lead to a sweeping wake-up call in the industry on all sides."
Jonathan Handel contributed to this report.
Oct. 20, 3:15 p.m.: Updated to clarify the origins of the "Me Too" movement.
Oct. 20, 5 p.m.: Updated to add agencies interested in signing Wolfhard.