With Geoffrey Rush Allegations, ‘OITNB’ Star Yael Stone Presents Too-Familiar #MeToo Story
In a new interview with the New York Times, Orange Is the New Black star Yael Stone accused her former costar Geoffrey Rush of inappropriate behavior while the two were acting in a stage play in the pair’s native Australia, then New York, back in 2010. Among Stone’s allegations are that while she worked with the Oscar-winning actor, Rush would watch her shower using a mirror, send her unwanted sexual texts, and dance naked in front of her without her consent.
Stone said that she knew that her boundaries had been crossed, but that she remained silent — partly because of Rush’s stature in the acting world, and partly for fear of financial and legal repercussions, because Australia has some of the toughest defamation laws in the world. She has also been nervous about how her story might be perceived given that she admits she played along with some of Rush’s alleged advances.
Rush, for his part, told the Times in a statement that Stone’s allegations are “incorrect and in some instances have been taken completely out of context.” He added that the actress “has been upset on occasion by the spirited enthusiasm I generally bring to my work,” and that he “sincerely and deeply” regrets “if I have caused her any distress.”
Though we cannot know the ins and outs of what may or may not have happened, Stone describes a scenario that likely sounds familiar to many women, and remains under-discussed in the #MeToo era. In such a scenario, the aggressor may consider their behavior good fun, regardless of whether the intended audience is hurt by it. The person on the receiving end may even feel compelled to respond positively in the moment in order to maintain the peace.
When then-25-year-old Stone starred with Rush in Diary Of A Madman, Rush’s career was well established, and he was already considered among the greatest Australian actors of his generation. For Stone, the job was a dream come true. From the jump, though, Rush’s alleged behavior made Stone feel uncomfortable. But as a newcomer to the stage, and given Rush’s fame, she was deeply afraid of offending him or losing her job for speaking up.
Moreover, the Times reports that Stone “enthusiastically and willingly” responded to some of Rush’s allegedly inappropriate texts. “I was so flattered that someone like that would spend their time texting me into the very early hours of the morning,” she told the paper.
While we, as a culture, have gotten better at identifying overt sexual abuses, cases in which a person like Stone may tolerate and even encourage alleged harassment are potentially more insidious. They’re harder to call out, harder to prove, and tend to involve imbalances of financial and professional power.
Stone said that it’s taken years for her to learn how to deal with the alleged behavior, and that after reaching out privately to Rush to explain that their working relationship was difficult for her, she never got a response. But it was the trajectory of the #MeToo movement that made her feel empowered to want to work through their time together.
Last year, Rush was accused by actress Eryn Jean Norvill of touching her breast “deliberately” while on stage in a production of King Lear in 2015. Rush filed a defamation lawsuit against Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, which broke the story.
(Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty)