In his first comments since parting ways with producer Scott Rudin on the Broadway show “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Aaron Sorkin said Rudin “got what he deserves” following accusations about the producer’s history of bullying assistants and staffers.
Rudin was a producer on Sorkin’s revival of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which is set to return to the Broadway stage next week, but without Rudin’s involvement (Orin Wolf is the new executive producer). In a lengthy interview with Vanity Fair published Thursday, Sorkin discussed why he took the news of Rudin’s alleged abuse “personally” and why he didn’t speak up sooner in the wake of the accusations.
“Had I known, there’s no chance I would’ve tolerated it, there’s no chance [director] Bart Sher would’ve tolerated it, that Jeff Daniels would’ve tolerated it. So we didn’t know. And once we did, we did something about it,” Sorkin said. “I think Scott got what he deserves. He’s lying flat on the mat right now, and I don’t know how it’s helpful for me to stand on his torso and kind of jump up and down.”
In April, an article in THR revealed accusations by several of Rudin’s former assistants and staffers of abusive behavior toward employees. Rudin released a statement apologizing for the “pain my behavior caused to individuals, directly and indirectly,” and shortly afterward, stepped away from his Broadway shows and his film and streaming projects.
Sorkin said he had one Zoom call with Rudin following The Hollywood Reporter’s exposé, during which it was made clear Rudin would have no more involvement with “To Kill a Mockingbird” and would no longer be compensated as a producer on the show. (Rudin does, however, still have a stake as an investor.)
Sorkin had worked with Rudin several times over the years, including on films like “The Social Network” and his HBO series “The Newsroom.” He said it was “painful” to read the accusations in the exposé and that he took it personally because some of the abuse likely happened on projects in which Sorkin was involved.
“I’ll tell you that in a number of the follow-up stories that I read, you’ll see people quoted saying, ‘Everybody knew, everybody knew.’ And that’s ludicrous. Everybody did not know. I certainly didn’t know, and I don’t know anybody who knew,” Sorkin said.
The director and writer also explained why he didn’t speak up sooner, pushing back on notions that he remained silent.
“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 said. “I saw in those articles that we’re talking about that my name would always be part of a list of people who have chosen to remain silent, with the implication being that we somehow endorse what Scott did, or we don’t think it’s a big deal, or we want to make sure we’re able to work with him when and if he makes a comeback, something like that.”
He continued: “But I just felt like to say something, to be quoted saying, ‘This is unacceptable. There have to be consequences,’ that kind of quote, it felt like protection insurance to me. And I just wasn’t comfortable with it.”
Sorkin added that he has not spoken with Rudin since that Zoom call, but likened it to speaking with an “alcoholic or an addict,” saying, “I hope he gets better.”
Read Aaron Sorkin’s full comments in Vanity Fair here.