Out Producer Scott Rudin Accused of Physical Abuse by Ex-Staffers in New Exposé

Wednesday April 7, 2021

Scott Rudin
Scott Rudin  (Source:Associated Press)

"I was once a fairly angry person," Scott Rudin told the Hollywood Reporter in 2010, citing the relationship with theater publicist John Barlow as having mellowed him. The couple subsequently married and in 2019 bought a 3-story, Greek Revival-style house in New York's West Village. But if this week's THR report is any indication, his anger management issues may have spiraled.

The story appears on the front page of The Hollywood Reporter with the word "BULLY" and the headline "'Everyone Just Knows He's an Absolute Monster': Scott Rudin's Ex-Staffers Speak Out on Abusive Behavior." The story has exploded across the Internet with a juicy insider look at the Hollywood and Broadway producer's numerous outbursts and examples of alleged abusive behavior.

Rudin has had a hugely successful bi-coastal career as a producer of such films as "No Country for Old Men," "Lady Bird," "The Social Network," "Fences" and "The Grand Budapest Hotel"; as well as such Broadway hits as "The Book of Mormon," the Bette Midler-helmed "Hello, Dolly!,"and the current revival of "To Kill a Mockingbird." He has received 151 Oscar nominations and 23 wins, including best picture for the Coen brothers' 2007 drama "No Country for Old Men." He's even more successful on the theater front, having nabbed 17 individual Tony Awards. He is one of the xx living artists to receive an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony (EGOT).

But his interpersonal relationships with co-workers has been far less successful, but has never been called out. "For some four decades, Rudin's abusive behavior has been chronicled — even celebrated — by the press. In a 2010 profile, this publication dubbed him 'The Most Feared Man in Town' and called him 'dazzlingly charming' one paragraph after describing acts of cruelty and intimidation. In a 2005 Wall Street Journal profile with the headline 'Boss-zilla!,' Rudin himself pegged the number of assistants he burned through in the previous five years at 119," wrote THR.

One story of his abusive behavior took place on Halloween, 2012 at his company's office when Rudin lashed out at an assistant who couldn't get him a seat on a sold-out flight by smashing an Apple computer monitor on his hand. "The screen shattered, leaving the young man bleeding and in need of immediate medical attention. One person in the office at the time described the incident as sounding like a car crash: a cacophonous collision of metal, glass and limb." Through a spokesperson, Rudin declined to comment on any of the specific allegations mentioned in this story. The alleged victim declined to comment, THR reported.

One assistant, Ryan Nelson, who worked for Rudin from 2018-2019, left the industry altogether after witnessing the abuse. "Every day was exhausting and horrific," he says. "Not even the way he abused me, but watching the way he abused the people around me who started to become my very close friends. You're spending 14 hours a day with the same people, enduring the same abuse. It became this collective bond with these people."

Another ex-assistant Miguel Cortes "became a bike mechanic for a year after leaving Scott Rudin Productions in 2019, feeling scarred by the experience and assuming that all offices operated this way," wrote THR.

"There was definitely a distance you wanted to maintain when you were talking to Scott at any time," he recalls. "I'm a tall guy. Like 6-foot-3, 6-foot-4. I remember thinking, 'Oh, well, I'm not intimidated by him. He's shorter than me.' But every time I'd be sitting down is when he'd come over and lord over me. I remember thinking, 'That's almost a genius move, getting me when I'm at my smallest.' He would be right over me and literally shouting at me."

Two years ago, THR reported, he got into a spat with queer playwright Jeremy O. Harris, ("The Slave Play") who called Rudin out on Twitter as "loudly racist." "He called me on the phone and cussed me out once and said 'you're a baby playwright who has written one good play no one gives a FUCK what you have to say' To which I responded, 'Why did you just pay me to say something in TWO plays?'"

Nor is Rudin's wrath only aimed at employees and colleagues. "He privately clashed with director Sam Mendes and took out an ad in The New York Times to berate a Times theater writer." He also called Angelina Jolie a "minimally talented spoiled brat" and made racially insensitive jokes about President Barack Obama, saying he probably liked Kevin Hart, said one assistant who saw them. He also lambasted Woody Goldberg (who, like Rudin, is one of select living EGOT members, because she wanted to play a part in To Kill a Mockingbird instead of another Rudin-produced project. "He called her an idiot, said she'd never work again in anything important and wished her luck on The View. Goldberg declined to comment," reported THR.

"Rudin continues to work with the best in the film business. His next projects include Joel Coen's "The Tragedy of Macbeth," with Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand, and Jennifer Lawrence's "Red, White and Water," both for A24. The New York-based distributor says it has no official first-look deal with Rudin even though it does frequent business with him."

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