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Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo has opened up about her experiences with two Hollywood figures who have been accused by many women in recent weeks of sexual harassment and or assault.
In an interview with USA Today, the actress revealed an uncomfortable experience with director James Toback, in which she claims he asked her if she would “get naked in a movie” and she “laughed in his face” in response. She also said she once met with Harvey Weinstein at the Peninsula Beverly Hills but left unscathed.
More than 300 women have claimed Toback sexually harassed or assaulted them, some in an Oct. 22 exposé in the Los Angeles Times.
Sharing her own personal experience with the director, Pompeo recalled an incident early in her career, where she “laughed in his face” after Toback allegedly harassed her. “I actually did have a situation with James Toback where I kind of told him to go (expletive) himself,” the actress recalled of her first encounter with the filmmaker.
She added: “It was held in a public place and I brought a man — my friend Tony. And he didn’t like that at all. And I could tell that. I could tell instantly that he was, like, no good. The minute my friend left, [Toback] asked me if I would get naked in a movie. And I was like, ‘Really, dude? My friend has been missing all of 30 seconds and now you say that?’ I kind of laughed in his face.”
Pompeo also revealed that she had a meeting with film mogul Harvey Weinstein, who has been the subject of sexual assault and harassment claims by more than 60 women.
“I met with Harvey at the Peninsula and he didn’t try anything on me,” she revealed. “I was very lucky. I escaped those clutches.”
Pompeo attributes her luck to being “aware” of her environment.
“I’ve been so lucky and maybe part of my choice to stay was [due to] knowing exactly what my environment was,” she explained. “Going out there and auditioning for jobs and basically having to beg men and get their approval for jobs was never fun for me. Even though I didn’t have any terrible experiences like some of these poor girls, this is the environment and you’re aware of it. I’m very grateful in my choice to stay in my safe space.”
Pompeo’s Grey’s Anatomy co-star Caterina Scorsone previously spoke out against Toback in a personal essay describing the sexual advances she endured from a “fairly prominent director” when auditioning to be cast in a feature film. Later, in an Instagram post, the actress revealed it was Toback she previously wrote about.
“He launched into a semantic lecture about the nature and definition of sex, orgasm and the universe,” Scorsone wrote of her experience with Toback. “When this failed to convince me, he called my vocation into question.” The actress further detailed: “He told me that I was repressed, and that, if I were a real actor like the half-dozen names he mentioned working with, I would be willing to trust him and just ‘go there.’”
After rejecting Toback’s advances, Scorscone said she lost the role.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Toback denied all allegations, calling them “pathetic lies.” He has since been dropped by his agent.
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