Director Kenny Ortega has claimed a “crooked police officer” once planted drugs in his hotel room, resulting in him spending “weeks in jail”.
Ortega was asked in a recent interview with Variety about his earlier acting career.
The filmmaker, now 70, replied in part: “I nearly had my life taken away from me when I was 21 years old by a crooked police officer.”
Ortega says the incident occurred when he was starring in the rock musical Hair.
“There was fear about what this show talked about and sang about,” he said, adding that the police officer in question allegedly took exception with the fact that Ortega was portraying a bisexual character in the musical.
“And he planted enough narcotics in my hotel room to make me out to be a major drug dealer,” Ortega added. ”And I was arrested and facing 25 years to life.”
Ortega told Variety he “spent weeks in jail and thousands of dollars for representation” before being set free.
He said the police officer was ultimately removed from his position.
“The entire thing was just — it was unbelievable,” Ortega added. “It was a horror story that just had this incredible bright ending in that the whole thing was thrown out of court. He was removed from office. I was set free, but never to be the same. Christ, I’m still always looking over my shoulder.”
Ortega went on to direct films such as Newsies, Hocus Pocus and the High School Musical trilogy.
He has also been a choreographer on classics such as Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and Dirty Dancing.