Charlize Theron said in an interview with NPR on Tuesday that she was sexually harassed by a “very famous director” at the beginning of her career. The “Bombshell” actress said she has named this director in the past, but that the journalists who she has told have chosen not to print his name.
Theron said that she met the director in question at a house on a Saturday night in 1994 and that he greeted her in “silk pajamas and offered me a drink and rubbed my knee.” She then apologized to the director as a way to excuse herself from the room.
“I was just starting out; I didn’t know the ins and outs, and said to myself as I was driving there at 9pm … ‘Maybe that’s how they do it in the movie industry,” Theron told NPR. “I put a lot of blame on myself … that I didn’t say all the right things, and that I didn’t tell him to take a hike, and that I didn’t do all of those things that we so want to believe we’ll do in those situations.”
Theron was then asked why she didn’t publicly name the director after the encounter and she said she has previously, but journalists did not choose to run his name.
“I actually did disclose his name. You don’t know that because every time I disclosed his name, the journalist made the decision to not write his name, and it goes to show just how deeply systemic this problem is,” Theron said. “So the story is out, and strangely, when the Harvey Weinstein story broke, I, for the first time ever, Googled the story and the story came up everywhere. It popped up everywhere, and nowhere could you find this guy’s name. And it was incredibly upsetting to me.”
Theron says that eight years after her the harassment incident, she met with the director again and hoped to confront him about it.
“I was going to have the moment I didn’t have with him,” she said. “[He] just moved on from the conversation, he just didn’t want to address it. At that moment, it was clear to me that it wasn’t his first time and that he had been doing this before and that other women had called him out. His way of handling it was just to talk over it and about the project.”
In discussing “Bombshell” and the #MeToo movement, Theron said that this is the first moment in her career where she’s found people receiving real consequences for their actions.
“In sexual harassment, you’re always waiting for that moment where there’s full closure, where you feel like you’ve actually … had your moment, where you get to say your piece. And that never really happens,” she said. “I’ve heard this repeatedly in hearing other women’s stories, and that is the unfortunate thing about sexual harassment. You never get that moment where you feel like the tables are reversed and now he’s finally getting it.”
She added that if she named the director now while promoting “Bombshell” it would overshadow the importance of this story but promises that there will be a “right time” for her to name him again.
“I’ve always been honest about it. I don’t have a desire to protect him, but I also don’t want him to overshadow this film right now,” Theron said. “So there will be a right time where I will talk about this again, and I will say his name, yes.”
“Bombshell” is in theaters in New York and Los Angeles now. Listen to her full interview via NPR here.