Actresses Say Veteran 'CSI' Casting Employee Coerced Them Into Disrobing
Andy Henry, who was dismissed from the procedural in 2008 but went on to work on major films like 'The Amazing Spider-Man' and 'Elysium,' has been placed on a leave of absence from his current employer.
Andy Henry, a veteran casting employee on CSI, was fired from the show and his own firm in 2008 after it came to light that he'd urged actresses seeking co-starring roles to disrobe during private, paid auditioning sessions, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. Some of them did so, feeling compelled to please a key gatekeeper for entry-level parts.
The situation has never been publicly disclosed. Henry has gone on to work on major studio films, including as a casting associate on Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, The Descendants, The Amazing Spider-Man and Elysium.
Five women — who recently found each other and elected to come forward after one posted online about her experience as part of the #MeToo movement that grew out of the Harvey Weinstein abuse revelations — tell THR that they felt preyed on. They say Henry always utilized the same scene from a 2006 episode of the procedural, involving a woman suffering from hypertrichosis, a rare genetic disorder that causes excess hair growth (commonly referred to as "human werewolf syndrome"), and that he manipulated their anxious desire to impress a hiring professional.
In a statement to THR, Henry admits to what he describes as "foolish and foolhardy" behavior, framing it as "a coaching technique" gone wrong, one meant "to explore the vulnerability portrayed in a scene" that was blind to "the potential damage to the human being in the room." He adds both that "I was then, and remain to this day, profoundly sorry about these incidents," and that "I never meant to make anyone feel pressured into doing anything, nor did I ever consciously intend to hurt anyone."
The women describe nearly identical scenarios in which Henry would target female attendees at paid evening audition classes he taught at workshop facilities around Los Angeles, explaining that they showed special promise and he'd be willing to further coach them one-on-one immediately afterward. (The proliferation of such pay-to-play sessions has recently drawn the attention of L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer, who has indicted more than two dozen casting professionals for illegally conducting them under a state talent scam prevention law earlier this year. The crackdown has so far resulted in a number of plea deals.)
"His line was, 'It's a really challenging scene and I can tell you can handle it, but it definitely requires more work than what we do here. Do you have any time to stay afterward to push a little harder with [the material]?'" says Jenny Kern, who was new to L.A. when she met him at the Sherman Oaks-based Reel Pros. "I was really flattered."
Once alone at the facility, Henry had her repeat the scene several times before telling her he thought it needed "more vulnerability" and suggesting, as an ostensive acting exercise, to remove her bra so she could better access the self-consciousness of the hypertrichosis sufferer. Dissatisfied with the result, he "incrementally asked me to take my clothes off," she says, and she complied, wanting "just to get done." Soon, she found herself wearing nothing but her underwear and Doc Marten combat boots. "He started saying things, improvising as this detective character: 'I can see your tits,' 'I can see you shave your pussy.' He did it until I finally cried," she says. Then he thanked her for her performance.
Tessa Goss says she encountered Henry at Culver City's acting center ITA when she was pregnant with her third child, "excited to burn $45 to get in front of Andy and get called in to read before my baby bump grew and I was out of the game again." She observes of his methodology: "He prefaced by saying, as he'd playact frustration, running his hands through his hair, 'This is going to seem super-crazy, but don't think it's super-weird.' That he works with actresses all the time. His thing was that [the performance] would feel more authentic if you can feel your nipples against your clothes." She continues, "I thought, 'I need to get out of here.' But there's also this sick actor part of me that thought, 'I need to get out of here as friends.'"
Goss left instead of removing her bra. "Lucky for me," she explains, "I was pregnant and didn't want to show my bump." (Goss later emailed ITA about her concern. In a reply she shared with THR, employee Bob Rumnock wrote, "Dear God! Just tell me that no one asked you to disrobe!!!" He didn't respond to a request for comment.)
Already accustomed to the draining endeavor of auditioning, with its relentless exposure and rejection, the women's interactions with Henry left them feeling coerced in the moment as well as undermined in their craft long afterward. Catherine Black rebuffed the request that she shed her attire during a private session at AIA Actor's Studio in Burbank. "It really planted a seed in my head, that maybe I wasn't good enough. Of, what did I do wrong?"
Henry's actions allegedly extended to the casting office where he was employed at the time, Ulrich/Dawson/Kritzer. Then-recent L.A. transplant Jacqueline Mueller, an aspiring actress and intern in the office, explains that during a private coaching session in 2008 on the premises utilizing the CSI scene, he requested she take her bra off, which she did. "Then he asked me to unzip my sweater," she says. "If I'd unzipped it, I would've been topless. I felt disgusted and bamboozled." When she demurred, he offered her whiskey out of a drawer, to loosen her inhibitions. Mueller adds: "I don't remember him reaching out to the men in the office to 'help' them" with their acting aspirations. (Henry responded, "During the time in question, many years ago, I did not have a comparable scene for male actors in which even the potential for nudity would have been relevant.")
The agency tells THR it immediately contacted CBS' human resources department when it fielded an initial complaint from an unidentified third party. "We terminated him the next day," says partner Eric Dawson.
Mandy June Turpin, another professed target at ITA (she claims he touched her shoulders and breasts during their session), recalls of the moment: "I thought, 'Thank God, somebody said something.' You're afraid to speak up. You're someone without credits. And he went on to work again in the business anyway."
Henry notes in his statement that subsequently, "My standing in the entertainment community was greatly lowered, and my career options were severely curtailed."
Since mid-2015 Henry has been employed at Nancy Nayor Casting. Nayor, a three-decade veteran in the business, explains that she was unaware of the 2008 incidents when she hired him, but that after THR recently approached him for its inquiry, he'd in turn alerted her. "He described [the situation] in broad strokes, that something had gone wrong and he'd made amends — at least in his mind," she says. "That that's why he hadn't shared it before." Apprised of the full scope of the women's claims, she responds: "It's truly shocking. It sounds like gross misconduct." Nayor subsequently explains that Henry is on a leave of absence in light of "these serious allegations."
Several of the women recently shared their stories with the Casting Society of America, a professional association where Henry is a member. The organization indicated to them that it's looking into the matter. CSA president Matthew Lessall didn't respond to a request for comment.
Among the most upsetting aspects of the experience for many of the women, as they see it, was how Henry shrewdly leveraged their interest in taking up a supposed professional challenge — accessing vulnerability — to untoward ends in a heavily skewed power dynamic. "He said, 'I think we can really break through with this," says Kern. "He asked me to go further and further. In that moment I knew I wanted to stop. But I didn't. I was outside of my body."
Andy Henry's full statement to THR:
"Nine years ago, I tried what I thought was a coaching technique, but which I learned very quickly was foolish and foolhardy. It was brought to light almost immediately, and as you were correctly informed, I was terminated from my employment in 2008 as a result.
I was then, and remain to this day, profoundly sorry about these incidents. I took responsibility right away for using nudity as a technique to explore the vulnerability portrayed in a scene, without being cognizant of the potential damage to the human being in the room. I was not aware of the allegations of fondling until now, and do not believe or recall that such a thing happened. I never meant to make anyone feel pressured into doing anything, nor did I ever consciously intend to hurt anyone.
My job was gone, my standing in the entertainment community was greatly lowered, and my career options were severely curtailed. I lost my marriage and declared bankruptcy as a result. I was punished for my actions, but I have spent the last nine years rebuilding myself into a person who could never do such a thoughtless and careless thing again. I have formally converted to Judaism, I have dedicated my life to the service of God and to trying to make some repair in this world. And I have striven to live and work every day as honorably and as honestly as possible. I am, again, inexpressibly sorry for the pain that these incidents caused."