Ian McKellen, the Oscar-nominated actor of the stage and screen, condemned the climate of sexual harassment in Hollywood while speaking at the Oxford Union earlier this month. While he said some people will be “wrongly accused” as women and men come forward with harassment and abuse claims, McKellen prefaced “nothing but good can come out of these revelations.”
“Of course people taking advantage of their power is absolutely reprehensible, wherever it happens,” McKellen began when asked about the Harvey Weinstein scandal by an audience member. “Within the family? Father and his children? Awful lot of that. Not, thank goodness, in my family. In the workplace? Doesn’t have to be the theater, doesn’t have to be Hollywood. It could be the local shop, it could be Parliament. It won’t do, wherever it happens.
“People must be called out,” he continued, “and it’s sometimes very difficult for victims to do that. And I know it’s particularly painful to some people who were abused and didn’t talk about it and never got it out of their system and feel it maybe decades later when they read about abuse in the newspaper, it all comes flooding back. And psychiatrists will tell you that their books are full of people who are hurt by revelations of other people’s experience. I hope we’re going through a period which will sort of help to eradicate it altogether.”
McKellen added that he started acting in the 1960s, “the director of the theater I was working at showed me some photographs he got from women who were wanting jobs, they were actors.”
“And some of them had ― I think these were the initials ― at the bottom of their photograph, ‘DRR’ — director’s rights respected,” he said. “In other words, ‘If you give me a job, you can have sex with me.’ That was commonplace from people who proposed that they should be a victim. Madness. DRR – director’s rights respected.”
McKellen said that “people have taken advantage of that and encouraged it and it absolutely will not do.”
“I just assume nothing but good can come out of these revelations,” he said of the outpouring of claims against alleged harassers and abusers in Hollywood. “Even though some people, of course, get wrongly accused — there’s that side of it, as well. Honesty, honesty, honesty.”