Mira Sorvino continues to speak her truth. In a new interview for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s HFPA in Conversation podcast, the Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion star claimed that she was “gagged” with a condom by a movie director while auditioning for a part at just 16 years old.
“In looking back over at my career, I realized that one of my very first auditions when I was 16, I was completely treated inappropriately by the casting director,” she said. “In order to scare me for this horror movie scene, he like, tied me to a chair, he bruised my arm, and I was 16 years old, and then he gagged me, and I was all game because I’m trying to act, be scared for the scene.”
She continued: “And at the end he takes the gag out of my mouth and he said, ‘Sorry for the prophylactic,’ so he gagged me with a condom and I was too young to even know, thank God, what a condom like, you know, tasted like, but you know, it was so inappropriate, and what the heck was a casting director doing with a condom in his pocket in an audition? And that was like, one of my introductions to, you know, how the acting system works.”
As she told HFPA, “When you’re young, you don’t question. When you’re young, you’re like, ‘Oh, OK, I gotta be tough, I gotta be down to like, really perform and if that means that they need me to go this extra mile . . .”
It wasn’t the only incident she had to deal with over the course of her career. Sorvino also said she lost roles for refusing the sexual advances of directors, recalling one audition in particular in which she was told, “‘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 said.
Back in October, the Condor actress was one of many who came forward with allegations of sexual harassment against movie producer Harvey Weinstein. She told The New Yorker that Weinstein made advances toward her after she found herself alone in a hotel room with him at the September 1995 Toronto International Film Festival. “He started massaging my shoulders, which made me very uncomfortable, and then tried to get more physical, sort of chasing me around,” she alleged at the time.
She went on to reveal that Weinstein later showed up to her apartment to discuss marketing ideas for her film, Mighty Aphrodite, but left when she told him her boyfriend was on his way.
Weinstein denied all allegations to Us Weekly in a statement from his spokesperson Sallie Hofmeister in October. “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein,” she told Us. “Mr. Weinstein obviously can’t speak to anonymous allegations, but with respect to any women who have made allegations on the record, Mr. Weinstein believes that all of these relationships were consensual.”
That same month, Sorvino told TIME magazine: “At the time I don’t think I even knew what happened — him using business-related situations to try and press himself sexually on a young woman in his employ — qualified as sexual harassment. But as a woman who routinely advocates for women and girls who have been victimized in my role as Goodwill Ambassador with the United Nations, and as a mother, I could no longer remain silent.”
It was later revealed that the #MeToo advocate lost roles due to Weinstein, with director Peter Jackson telling Stuff in December, “I recall Miramax telling us [Mira Sorvino and Ashley Judd] were a nightmare to work with and we should avoid them at all costs. This was probably in 1998.”
Director Terry Zwigoff also tweeted an apology to the actress for not casting her for a role, saying, “I was interested in casting Mira Sorvino in BAD SANTA, but every time I mentioned her over the phone to the Weinsteins, I’d hear a CLICK. What type of person just hangs up on you like that?! I guess we all know what type of person now. I’m really sorry Mira.”
Hofmeister denied claims of retaliation on Weinstein’s behalf, telling Us, “Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances.”
Miramax was founded by Bob and Harvey Weinstein in 1979. Though it was sold to the The Walt Disney Company in 1993, it was run by the brothers until 2005, when they left to start The Weinstein Company. Harvey Weinstein was fired from The Weinstein Company in early October.
Allegations against Weinstein helped to re-ignite a 2006 movement started by Tarana Burke dubbed #MeToo to increase awareness of sexual harassment and assault.