Sordid tales of Hollywood horrors past continue to spool out, the most recent from Oscar-winner Mira Sorvino who says she lost roles for refusing to submit to sex in exchange, and once was gagged with a condom during an audition when she was 16.
In an interview for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's podcast In Conversation to promote her new projects, including the Audience Network's drama series, "Condor," Sorvino, 50, talked about Harvey Weinstein's criminal case, her regrets about working with Woody Allen, how Hollywood and the country have changed since the #MeToo movement she helped spread, and her activism in pushing for legislation in California aimed at countering sexual harassment and abuse.
The mother of four also expressed dismay about the Trump administration's immigration policies, especially separating kids from their parents at the border.
Sorvino was among the first accusers of Weinstein, the fallen movie mogul (now under criminal indictment) she says blacklisted her from future roles for resisting his advances.
Now she's continuing to speak out about the casting-couch mentality that ruled Hollywood in her youth. She said she lost multiple roles because she wouldn't jump on the couch when demands were made by directors or casting agents.
“Directors pressuring you to have relationships with them, people casting you saying if you have a sexual relationship with them they’ll give you the part," she said. "That has happened to me several times… I’ve had friends who were told, ‘You’re going to absolutely have to have sex with all kinds of people to advance your career.’ ”
She always refused and lost out on roles as a result, she said.
She directly accused a major Oscar-winning director she described as "known for his social justice profile" but wouldn't name him or his movies or when her encounter with him happened.
"(He) literally said to me at a very end-stage audition meeting, ‘You know, as I look at you my mind can’t help but traveling from the artistic possibilities to the sexual.' I think my mouth just opened and my silence was deafening,” she recalled. She refused to go along. "I know for a fact that's why I didn't get that part."
Her most shocking story involves an audition for a horror movie when she was 16 and not yet old enough to fully understand how Hollywood worked. She says she was treated "inappropriately" by a casting director at an audition for a horror movie. She says he tied her to a chair, bruised her arm and gagged her.
"And I was all game because I'm trying to be scared for the scene," she said. "And at the end, he takes the gag out of my mouth and he says, sorry for the prophylactic...That was one of my introductions to how the acting system works."
At that age, she didn't question much. She assumed she had to be tough, she had to be "down to really perform.” She didn't realize the abusive nature of the "acting system" until much later.
"I was too young to even know, thank God, what a condom tasted like. It was so inappropriate, and what the heck was a casting director doing with a condom in his pocket in an audition?”
Sorvino, who won an Oscar for her role in Allen's 1995 film, "Mighty Aphrodite," now wishes she had looked further into the allegations against him by his daughter Dylan Farrow, 33, who accuses her father of molesting her when she was 7. (He has vehemently denied this. Her allegations were investigated years ago; charges were never filed.)
“I have since gotten to know Dylan and I believe her," Sorvino says. "She’s a wonderful person and I think she’s been maligned for a long time… We can’t just wish away with cognitive dissonance the fact that our heroes are capable of doing something heinous, and (Allen) was my hero.”
Sorvino said she recently visited the U.S.-Mexico border with other activists and celebrities including Lena Dunham and Sia. She said she was horrified by the “shameful” conditions at the detention centers where parents and their children have been separated.
“I know people don’t like it when you make equivalencies between things that happened in the Third Reich but there are certain parallels that can’t be denied … our constitutional democracy is eroding,” she said.
But she said the #MeToo movement, joined by "millions and millions," is helping to change attitudes in Hollywood and the culture at large.
"All of a sudden everyone in the general public realizes the problem is so much more widespread than anyone ever thought because no one would ever talk about it," due to fear and embarrassment.
"It's a horrible memory and most (victims) would like to keep it secret if they had their druthers, but because of this movement so many survivors are finally letting this out into the light and they're joining this community that says no more of this."