It’s been a bit over a year and a half since Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and the #MeToo movement hit the world with as big a cultural shockwave as Edward Snowden had a few years before.
Ever since then, I look at actors (particularly actresses) who I haven’t seen on screens in a long while in a completely new way, wondering if they left the industry after suffering at the hands of their own abusers, too scared, ashamed or traumatised to expose their abuse so nakedly on the world stage and still suffering in silence.
Were are Leelee Sobieski, Bridget Fonda, Amanda Bynes, Phoebe Cates, Sarah Michelle Gellar, the Olsen twins, Thora Birch, Neve Campbell, Heather Graham, Fairuza Balk and more?
I know, the stories around some of the above names are innocuous and innocent. Fonda is said to have left the industry to raise her family, Neve Campbell showed up in the next-to-last season of House of Cards, Heather Graham directed a great little indie comedy last year called Half Magic, and several more have (owing to the way Hollywood treats most female performers) probably stopped getting offers as soon as the first line appeared around the corners of their eyes.
But we might have assumed the same thing about The Mummy (the good one) star Brendan Fraser. Every time you scroll through an entertainment story online and see all those links to clickbait listicles his picture was always very prominent alongside stories about actors how disappeared from the industry, and like most of us I thought he probably trod on the wrong agent’s toes or just got sick of the constant press.
Unfortunately, the truth was much darker, and Fraser admitted in a 2018 GQ story that, following a litany of other health and family problems, the then-president of the Hollywood Foreign President Association Philip Berk indecently assaulted him at a 2003 industry event.
Who else has it happened to that we don’t know about, and how many other previously shining lights and talents of both sexes were robbed of their careers along with their confidence and emotional stability?
In fact, the thought that led me down this rabbit hole was the memory of a small but impactful cartel of Australian actresses that came to prominence in the late 1990s/early 2000s but who’ve all but disappeared. After appearing in brutal Aussie thriller Chopper with Eric Bana, Kate Beahan was in Flightplan, the high profile mystery thriller with Jodie Foster and Sean Bean. She had the unfortunate fate of appearing in Neil Labute’s much-reviled remake of The Wicker Man alongside Nic Cage at his Nic Cagiest and now she’s ‘only’ a TV regular, far from a movie star.
Jacinda Barrett did much better, starring in Ladder 49, Poseidon and The Human Stain, but she’s barely worked since 2010’s Matching Jack. But most mysterious is Radha Mitchell, who was a bona fide star for five hot minutes after Pitch Black, Phone Booth, Man On Fire and Melinda and Melinda. Maybe the critical pillorying the big screen version of Silent Hill received put a single large nail in her high profile career. She’s still working consistently, but have you seen anything she’s been in since Greg McLean’s giant crocodile misfire Rogue?
Some careers just peter out. Some performers lose interest. It’s hard to be the next big thing in Hollywood because there’s always another hot new name coming up behind you. But will we ever know how many careers and lives were laid in ruins along the way?
On screens recently, I loved Chi-raq. Spike Lee’s film are always somewhere between good and sublime, and his musical thriller crime drama poetry fable about gun violence and racial disadvantage is his best movie in years.
I also finally caught up with a movie whose production has always been lore among film lovers, Tippi Hedren’s Roar. The film itself is nothing at all special on screen, but it gives you context about the incredible and blood-soaked saga that went into making it.
I also really enjoyed the mind-bending Spierig brothers thriller Predestination. It’s a time travel paradox story the premise of which is such a paradox in itself it doesn’t stand up to a minute of scrutiny, but it’s so inventive and has such a cool twist you won’t care.
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