On Sunday, the LA Times published a gut-churning exposé about director James Toback (The Pick-Up Artist). The piece contained accusations from over 30 women, all of whom held similar accounts about how Toback (over the course of decades) recruited them for appalling “auditions.” These women alleged that he made them undress, masturbated in front of them, and grinded against their bodies while ejaculating in his pants as part of his “process.” Very quickly, a male Hollywood voice — director James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) — has stepped up to say that he knew about the alleged behavior and warned women away from Toback.
Gunn penned a lengthy Facebook post (and tweeted a link while referring to his essay as “Why I’ve despised James Toback for over 20 years”). If everything Gunn says is true, he appears to have gone to far greater lengths than Quentin Tarantino did over the decades in regard to Harvey Weinstein’s accusers. Arguments can certainly be made that Gunn heard from many more of Toback’s accusers than Tarantino knew of with Weinstein, yet in both cases, the behavior in question was predatory, egregious, and traumatizing to the women. Here’s how Gunn begins his discussion:
“I have personally met at least FIFTEEN WOMEN, probably more, who say that he’s accosted them in NYC. He essentially goes up to women and says, “Hey, I’m James Toback, and I’m a famous director, and I feel like there’s a connection between us.” Then he shows them some article on himself or some other artifact to prove he is who he is, and tries to get them to go somewhere else with him.
“He has done this to three girls I’ve dated, two of my very best friends, and a family member … twice. Yes, he came up to her twice with the same stupid line, not realizing she was the same person. This is in addition to many other women I’ve talked to at parties or dinners about their interactions with Toback.”
Gunn stresses that he doesn’t have any firsthand knowledge of Toback’s alleged harassment, but he places great value upon the similarities of each account. And Gunn believes he did what was possible to stop Toback from claiming more victims:
“[T]he stories are so eerily similar, and I’ve heard them again and again from some of the people I trust most in the world, I know the chances of them being untrue … well, it would just be impossible. I knew it was their choice whether or not they wanted to come forward publicly, but I let them know I would have their backs if they did.
“So I did what I could do in my impotent state — for over twenty years now, I’ve been bringing up James Toback every chance I could in groups of people. I couldn’t stop him, but I could warn people about him.“
It’s mind-boggling to hear that Gunn warned groups of people about what he’s heard from women who he deeply trusts, and still, it took a massive effort from the LA Times to reach the general public. It must be noted that Toback has denied the accusations against him as “biologically impossible” because of a claimed heart condition.
(Via James Gunn on Facebook)