Michael Douglas Denies Sexual Harassment Story Before It Potentially Breaks
By Antoinette Bueno
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Michael Douglas is speaking out against a potential story he says he's been contacted about by multiple media outlets, involving a former employee's claim that Douglas sexually harassed her over 30 years ago.
In an interview with Deadline, the 73-year-old actor vehemently denies the most serious claim, that he once masturbated in front of her. According to Douglas, other allegations from the woman include using colorful language in front her, speaking raunchily with his friends on the phone in front of her and blackballing her from the industry. Douglas says he got a message from his attorney before the holidays that The Hollywood Reporter wanted to run a story on the woman's claims.
"My head was reeling," Douglas says. "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 colorful language in front her, I apologize. 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 colorful 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. ... Finally, masturbating in front of her? I don’t know where to begin. This is a complete lie, fabrication, no truth to it whatsoever."
Douglas calls the entire situaion "extremely painful," and says it has affected his wife, actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, as well as his children -- 39-year-old Cameron, 17-year-old Dylan and 14-year-old Carys.
"I pride myself on my reputation in this business, not to mention the long history of my father and everything else," he says, referring to his dad, legendary actor Kirk Douglas. "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. ... 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 explains why he's speaking out about the allegations, even though the story has not been published.
"I had the choice of waiting for a story to come out, one that will clearly get picked up by other newspapers and magazines, and then I have to sit there and try to defend myself," he shares. "Or, try to share with the public, a little ahead of the story, my thoughts and concerns."
"I’d confess to anything I thought I was responsible for," he continues. "And it was most certainly not masturbating in front of this woman. ...I’m upset. ... I’m fearful, I have jobs going with studios who all seem to be supportive at this time. I’m hurt, really hurt and offended and I wonder if people realize when you do something like this, it hurts a lot more than just one person."
The Oscar-winning actor stresses that he is a supporter of the #MeToo movement, and that unfounded allegations are detrimental to the cause.
"I find this whole thing really irresponsible and it hurts people who are supportive of this movement and who believe in it," he says. "This is my own personal taste. I don’t live in Los Angeles. I hope this movement continues to grow, but that there is care shown in who is accused and how the accusation is handled."
Zeta-Jones attended the Golden Globes on Sunday, where the actress wore black in solidarity of the Time's Up movement.
"It's really great that women are supporting women and we have to continue to do that," she told ET on the red carpet. "Not just in our industry, not even about vying for roles. This is serious and we're all coming together, and I feel very empowered by that."
"This is a celebrating night for women," she added. "When we work together in numbers, strength is in numbers."