Michael Douglas has opted to try and head off an accusation of sexual misconduct, after being contacted about a planned exposé in the media.
Douglas has denied that he exposed himself and masturbated in front of a former female employee, and has volunteered details of the alleged incident, which he has called ‘a complete lie’.
The 73-year-old actor says that he was contacted by The Hollywood Reporter just before Christmas, after it in turn was contacted by a woman who worked for Douglas more than 30 years ago who had allegations to make about when she worked for his production company.
She says that Douglas used foul language in the workplace, fired her from her job, blackballed her from the movie business, and exposed himself in front of her.
Speaking to Deadline, he said: “I felt the need to get ahead of this.
“My head was reeling. I just couldn’t put this together. I’ve had no contact with her, in thirty-plus years. I talked to the reporter and said, ‘listen, as far as using colourful language in front her, I apologise. None of it was directed at her; she didn’t say it was. It was my office and that was the tone that I set and as far as conversations with friends.’
“As to colourful language, she may have overheard private conversations, and if she was offended, she could have excused herself.
“As far as blackballing her, that was completely untrue. She was a lady who was involved in development at my company, and we just didn’t have a good development record in the time she was there, so I just moved on. I never blackballed her. If people from the industry called me to ask about her, I would have been honest, but I never blackballed her.”
As to the accusation of sexual misconduct, Douglas said: “I don’t know where to begin. This is a complete lie, fabrication, no truth to it whatsoever.”
He went on: “It’s extremely painful. I pride myself on my reputation in this business, not to mention the long history of my father and everything else. I don’t have skeletons in my closet, or anyone else who’s coming out or saying this.
“I’m bewildered why, after 32 years, this is coming out, now. As I say, I will fess up to colourful language, but the issue of masturbating in front of her? That rung is something I’ve only heard about the last year. It’s not an expression that related to the ‘80s. So I thought it stunk. And I tried to figure out, why the hell would somebody do this?
“The part that hurt the worst is having to share something like this to your wife and your children. My kids are really upset, has to go to school worrying this is going to be in some article about me, being a sexual harasser. They’re scared and very uncomfortable.”
Douglas goes on to say that he thinks the current climate of accusations could damage the #MeToo movement, which he says he supports ‘with all his heart’.
“I have always supported women, along the way,” he added. “This is the kind of step that can set that movement back. Being accused, without a chance [to defend yourself] in court. To not even really have the information in front of you, to be able to argue or defend yourself.
“There is no due process, no chance of seeing evidence in front of me from my accuser. It worries me.”
So far, no allegations against Douglas have been published.