James Cameron says ‘no mercy’ for True Lies stunt co-ordinator accused of sexually assaulting Eliza Dushku
In a Facebook post Saturday, Dushku accused Joel Kramer of multiple sexual assaults during the filming of the movie in 1994, when the actress was 12 years old.
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PASADENA, CALIF—Eliza Dushku, star of TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse and Angel, has recounted horrific episodes where she claims she was sexually abused on the set of Canadian director James Cameron’s True Lies.
The film, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a secret agent and Jamie Lee Curtis as his wife, with Dushku as their daughter, was made in 1994 when the actress was 12 years old.
In a detailed post on her Facebook page on Saturday, Dushku accuses Joel Kramer, the stunt co-ordinator of multiple sexual assaults while working on the set.
“I remember vividly how he methodically drew the shades and turned down the lights; how he cranked up the air-conditioning to what felt like freezing levels, where exactly he placed me on one of the two hotel room beds, what movie he put on the television (Coneheads); how he disappeared in the bathroom and emerged, naked, bearing nothing but a small hand towel,” Dushku said. “I remember how he laid me down on the bed, wrapped me with his gigantic writhing body, and rubbed all over me. He spoke these words: “You’re not going to sleep on me now sweetie, stop pretending you’re sleeping,” as he rubbed harder and faster against my catatonic body.”
Cameron, the director of Avatar and Titanic, the top two biggest grossing movies of all time, was at the Television Critics Association convention in Los Angeles to promote his new documentary series on science fiction for AMC network. He arrived on stage just hours after hearing about the painful allegations. Kramer has denied the allegations in a statement to Variety, saying they were “Absolutely not true.”
“Had I known about it, there would have been no mercy. And now, especially that I have daughters, there would really be no mercy now,” Cameron said. “It’s just heartbreaking that it happened to her. I mean, I know the other party and not well. He hasn’t worked for me since then. But, you know, the fact that this was happening under our noses and we didn’t know about it. I think going forward, it’s important for all industries, certainly Hollywood, to create a safe avenue for people to speak up, that they feel safe and that anybody who might be, you know, a predator or an abuser knows that that mechanism is there and there will be consequences.”
On her post, Dushku said she confided to an adult friend on set about the assault. Her friend then came on set and confronted Kramer with the allegations. Later that day, she says she was injured on set in a stunt with broken ribs.
“To be clear, over the course of those months rehearsing and filming True Lies, it was Joel Kramer who was responsible for my safety … On a daily basis he rigged wires and harnesses on my 12 year old body. My life was literally in his hands: he hung me in the open air, from a tower crane, atop an office tower, 25+ stories high. Whereas he was supposed to be my protector, he was my abuser.”
Cameron applauded Dushku for speaking up, calling her brave.
“This has been endemic throughout human systems, not just Hollywood. I’m glad Eliza did that …This is not a reckoning for Hollywood. This is not a reckoning for America. This is a reckoning for the human race. This shit has been going on since day one, you know. So whenever there’s a male in a position of power and he’s got a piece missing and doesn’t understand the consequences of what he’s doing and maybe out of this can come some education that can pull some men who would otherwise go down that path back from the brink.”
Still, Cameron, the ultimate boss of the show, seemed to give himself something of a pass, saying directors are historically oblivious to “interpersonal things” happening on set.
“I’m probably one of the worst offenders in that being focused on what I’m doing creatively,” he said.
Cameron said he hoped the industry would put in preventive practices to stop the issues in the future. Dushku said she had the courage to speak because of the collective voices of other women who are now coming out to confront the issue.
But in what could be part of a greater tragedy, she said at the time of the assault, she told her parents and adult friends, but no one stepped up.
“I have struggled with how and when to disclose this, if ever. At the time, I shared what happened to me with my parents, two adult friends and one of my older brothers. No one seemed ready to confront this taboo subject then, nor was I.”