In a recent interview, Mira Sorvino described an encounter she had with a casting director in the beginning of her career that involved him gagging her with a condom.
Sorvino spoke to journalist Katherine Tulich for an episode of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s HFPA in Conversation podcast, released on Wednesday. In the interview, Sorvino said an unnamed casting director took advantage of her willingness to perform during an audition, per TMZ.
“In order to scare me for this horror movie scene, he tied me to a chair, he bruised my arm—I was, like, 16 years old—and then he gagged me. I was all game because I’m trying to be scared for the scene, and at the end he takes the gag out of my mouth and says, ‘Sorry for the prophylactic.’ He gagged me with a condom. I was too young to know, thank god, what a condom tasted like, but it was so inappropriate. What the heck was a casting director doing with a condom in his pocket at an audition? That was one of my introductions to how the acting system works.
Sorvino, one of the many women who came forward last fall to accuse Miramax co-founder Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment and assault, also talks about how actresses have been told for decades that their success will depend not on their work but on their sexual desirability and willingness to “sleep their way to the top.” She recounts one such experience with “a big director” who propositioned her mid-audition and then didn’t cast her after she turned him down.
A big director who’s got Oscars and is known for his social justice profile with some of these movies literally said to me at an end-stage audition meeting, ‘You know, as I look at you, my mind can’t help traveling from the artistic possibilities [to] the sexual.’ I think my mouth just opened, and I smiled nervously back… I thought this was a legit meeting. I thought you had me here because you thought I was talented or that I brought something good for this role, not that you were here, fishing to see if I would have an affair with you. I didn’t get that part. I know for a fact that’s why I didn’t get that part.
These encounters, Sorvino says, speak to the potential for exploitation in her field, particularly for young women who are trying to get that big break.
When you’re young, you don’t question. When you’re young, you’re like, ‘I gotta be tough. I gotta be, like, down to really perform, and if that means they need me to go this extra mile [I will]…’ People take advantage of that. People have always taken advantage of that.
Listen to the full interview here.