Actor Michael Douglas, trying to get ahead of a potential media frenzy, is denying sexually harassing a former employee over 30 years ago.
“I had the choice of waiting for a story to come out, one that will clearly get picked up by other newspapers and magazines, and then I have to sit there and try to defend myself,” he told Deadline in an interview published on Wednesday. “Or, try to share with the public, a little ahead of the story, my thoughts and concerns.”
The actor claims that in December his lawyer told him that a publication was looking into accusations from a former employee, who worked at his company three decades ago. According to Douglas, the woman is alleging that the actor used “colorful language” in front of her, masturbated in front of her, and then “blackballed” her from the industry.
Douglas admits that colorful language was probably used in front of her, while on the phone with friends, in what he called “private conversations.” However, he denies the allegations of masturbating in front of the woman, calling the accusation, “a complete lie, fabrication, no truth to it whatsoever.” He also denies shutting the former employee out of Hollywood.
“She was a lady who was involved in development at my company, and we just didn’t have a good development record in the time she was there, so I just moved on,” he said. The woman was not identified by name, but was described as a writer.
Douglas affirmed that he is a supporter of the #MeToo movement, and said 20 female executives had worked at his company, and that he has worked with more than 20 women producers over his career.
The actor said he is “hurt” and “offended” by the accusations, but said that his wife, actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, and family support him.
In October of 2017, the New York Times and New Yorker published bombshell reports about alleged sexual assault and harassment by former producer Harvey Weinstein. Since then powerful men across industries have been accused by both men and women of harassment, misconduct, or assault.