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Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth

Anna Faris Says Director Ivan Reitman Ruled With a 'Reign of Terror' on Set, Once Slapped Her

"This person scares the shit out of me," Faris said of the Ghostbusters director.

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Image for article titled Anna Faris Says Director Ivan Reitman Ruled With a 'Reign of Terror' on Set, Once Slapped Her
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“Can I speak ill of the dead?” Anna Faris asked on the latest episode of her podcast Anna Faris Is Unqualified. In it, she talks with guest Lena Dunham about the ins and outs of Hollywood, from acting to directing and beyond. The question is in reference to the late Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman, with whom Faris worked in the early 2000s. Faris described her time on the set as working under a “reign of terror,” including one incident in which Reitman berated her and another in which he touched her inappropriately, according to the Guardian. When Dunham asked her about what makes her least able to do her job, Faris said, “It’s always been, ‘This person scares the shit out of me.’”

Though Faris has previously spoken about the physical incident—when Reitman slapped her ass while she was on a ladder—on a podcast episode in 2017, right as the #MeToo movement was taking off, this is the first time that she’s called the abusive director by name. “One of my hardest film experiences was Ivan Reitman,” she told Dunham. “I mean, the idea of attempting to make a comedy under this, like, reign of terror. He was a yeller. He would bring down somebody every day. And on my first day, it was me.”

Faris first experienced Reitman’s wrath while filming the 2006 film My Super Ex-Girlfriend, where she starred alongside Uma Thurman and Luke Wilson. On the first day, Faris’ hair dresser accidentally spilled a jar of wig glue onto Faris’ costume, making her about 20 minutes late to set. “I’m in the middle of the street that’s all lit, it’s a night shoot, and Ivan was just taking me down,” she recalled. She also remembers telling herself not to cry. “I felt angry and hurt and humiliated and defensive.”


Regarding the ass-slapping situation, Faris called it a “weird moment.” When Dunham asked if Faris told anyone about the incident, the latter simply replied, “It was like 2006,” explaining that it was way before #MeToo normalized speaking out about sexual harassment. Almost two decades later, Faris recognizes that she tried to play down what happened. “With that incident, I think that I’m still of the generation and of the mentality of how to calibrate that element,” she said. “On one hand, it wasn’t anything, whatever, my ass is fine. On the other hand, I did have 30 people around me, I think, expecting me to do something, and I didn’t.” Instead, for the duration of her time on set, Faris told herself to “lay low and play it safe.”

Dunham shared her own experiences with Reitman, whose sets she’s visited in the past. While observing one project, she thought to herself, “This is a comedy and no one’s laughing.” Dunham chalks it up to what her mom refers to as “Great Man Syndrome,” which is “when everyone kind of props up one man and is kinda quiet around him.”

While Faris and Dunham go on to discuss the progress that’s been made in the industry, including the presence of intimacy coordinators with whom actors can consult if they ever feel uncomfortable or uncertain on set, Hollywood still has a long way to go when it comes to creating environments that are safe—especially for women. Faris joins a growing list of actors who are coming out about the abuse they’ve endured on set, including Jennette McCurdy and Contance Wu. As more women come forward with their stories, we hope it won’t take their abusers’ literal deaths to give them the courage to speak out.