On Thursday, director Lee Daniels was interviewed by Bevy Smith on her Radio Andy show Bevelations. The conversation eventually turned to the #MeToo movement, with Daniels asking the question all famous men (and women!) have been asking recently: “Is it crazy enough or have we gone too far? I don’t know, I’m all confused.”
Claiming that he’s never had a sexual relationship with one of his actors, Daniels was adamant in stating, “I never sleep where I shit, I never sleep where I eat.”
He does, however, feel that actors both male and female have tried to cross the line with him:
I get upset with directors that marry their actors or sleep with their actresses and stuff. But I know that, being someone who has never gone there, it’s happened to me, where actors have come in...heterosexual men have come on to me, women have come on to me, thinking they can turn me around. This is something we don’t talk about and it’s not cool to talk about, but me too. ...It’s very uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable to me as a gay man to have a woman come onto me. God forbid I’m allowed to even mention, utter those words from my lips.
Asked what he thinks of actor Terry Crews’s accusations against agent Adam Venit, who faced barely any repercussions after Crews alleged being groped by him at a party, Daniels and Smith joke briefly about Venit being a “top” if he thought he could “top Terry”—an aside that seems wildly inappropriate—then turned back to Daniels’s experiences.
“Not once, not twice, but over my career at least four times, women and straight men that have come on to me, that are beautiful, saying ‘You know you want this.’ ...To me that crossed the line.”
Smith challenged him on whether his position of power as the director changes how we see those situations, to which he replied, “The question then becomes... if it’s a mutual consent, because I do know of actresses—‘cause the ones that have not come out, that are employed, have been employed by Mr. Weinstein... What does that say?”
Pressed again on the power dynamics in this situation and how actors coming onto him fits into it, Daniels replied, “My power wasn’t abused, but my spirit was fractured....[laughs] It’s embarrassing.”
Previously, Daniels—ever the complex figure—defended his Empire star Terrance Howard, who’s been arrested on multiple occasions for domestic violence, telling the Hollywood Reporter, “[Terrence] ain’t done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn, and all of a sudden he’s some f—in’ demon...That’s a sign of the time, of race, of where we are right now in America.” (He was subsequently sued by Sean Penn.)