James Cameron was supposed to be promoting his season of AMC Visionaries, James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction on Saturday at the Television Critics Association winter previews, but instead the legendary director fielded questions about his knowledge of Eliza Dushku’s alleged molestation while on the set of his 1994 film, True Lies.
Dushku posted an emotional Facebook post on Saturday morning detailing an encounter where stunt coordinator Joel Kramer undressed and rubbed his naked body over hers when she was only 12 years old.
“Obviously, Eliza is very brave for speaking up,” Cameron told reporters. “I think all of the women are that are speaking up and calling for a reckoning now. I think this has been endemic throughout human systems, not just Hollywood…Women who were victims 10 or 15 years ago are famous today so they have a louder voice when they come forward. Bravo for them for doing it. I’m glad Eliza did that. It’s heartbreaking that it happened to her.”
Cameron says that he was unaware that this behavior was happening on his set, but if he had been aware of Kramer’s behavior there would have faced “no mercy.”
“Directors are historically pretty oblivious to the interpersonal things that are happening on the set because they are just focused on probably — I am one of the worst offenders of just being focused on what I’m doing creatively, but had I known about it there would have been no mercy,” Cameron explained. “Especially now, I have daughters so there would definitely be no mercy now.”
Dushku said in her post that she reported the incident to her parents and on-set legal guardian as well as an adult, female friend. The friend confronted Kramer later on set and that same day Dushku ended up in the hospital with three broken ribs after a stunt went wrong.
Her on-set guardian Sue Booth-Forbes gave a statement to Deadline that Dushku’s claims were true and a misconduct complaint was made after the actress reported the incident.
“Eliza Dushku is telling the truth. I was on the True Lies set for 3 weeks and reported Joel Kramer’s inappropriate sexual behavior towards 12-year-old Eliza to a person in authority,” Booth-Forbes said in her statement. I was met with blank stares and had the sense that I wasn’t telling that person anything they didn’t already know.”
Cameron is in favor of introducing industry wide practices that make victims more comfortable in coming forward when sexual harassment or assault happens.
“I think going forward that all industries, certainly Hollywood, to create a safe avenue for people to speak up, that they feel safe. Anyone that might be a predator or an abuser knows that mechanism is there and that it’s encouraged and that there’s no shame around it and there will be consequences. I think we collectively as a human race need to do that,” Cameron said. “I think this is kind of a great moment in history. Unfortunately, it’s founded on the personal tragedies for so many women.”
The director went on to say that there needs to be an awakening across all industries, not just Hollywood and education needs to be improved to hopefully prevent men from participating in this type of damaging behavior.
“This is not just a reckoning for Hollywood. This is a reckoning for the human race. This s–t has been going on since Day 1,” he said. “Maybe out of this can come some education that can pull some men who would otherwise go down that path back from the brink as well. I think a lot of it has to come from some kind of lack of empathy. They are clearly not feeling what this is going to mean to this person further down the line.”
Joel Kramer has adamantly denied the allegations.