Jared Leto, whom Ratner said would star as the late magazine founder, denies he was ever involved

By Derek Lawrence
November 01, 2017 at 04:18 PM EDT
Credit: Michael Kovac/Getty Images; Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Filmmaker Brett Ratner’s planned Hugh Hefner biopic has been put on hold by Playboy in the wake of multiple women accusing Ratner of sexual misconduct. Additionally, Jared Leto, whom Ratner said would portray the late magazine founder, has denied ever being attached to the project.

“We are deeply troubled to learn about the accusations against Brett Ratner,” a Playboy Enterprises spokesperson said in a statement to EW. “We find this kind of behavior completely unacceptable. We are putting all further development of our projects with RatPac Entertainment on hold until we are able to review the situation further.”

Earlier Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times published an exposé detailing alleged sexual misconduct on the part of the Rush Hour and X-Men: The Last Stand director. Actresses Olivia Munn and Natasha Henstridge were among the women to come forward, with Henstridge accusing Ratner of forcing her to perform oral sex on him in the early 1990s. “He strong-armed me in a real way. He physically forced himself on me,” she told the Times. “At some point, I gave in and he did his thing.”

Through his attorney, Martin Singer, Ratner denied the claims. “I have represented Mr. Ratner for two decades, and no woman has ever made a claim against him for sexual misconduct or sexual harassment,” Singer told the newspaper. “Furthermore, no woman has ever requested or received any financial settlement from my client.”

Ratner has been linked to a potential Hefner biopic for more than a decade, and last month, a week after the Playboy founder died, Ratner told The Hollywood Reporter that Leto, his “old friend,” would take on the lead role. “When he heard I got the rights to Hef’s story, he told me, ‘I want to play him. I want to understand him,’” Ratner said. “And I really believe Jared can do it. He’s one of the great actors of today.”

A representative for Leto denied such claims Wednesday in a statement to EW. “Jared Leto is not and was not attached to a Brett Ratner-directed Hugh Hefner film, nor will he be working with him in the future,” the statement said. “Earlier reports were incorrect and not confirmed by his representatives.”

The Wrap first reported the news of the film being put on hold.