Reminder That You Don’t Need to Terrorize Actresses on Set to Get Authentic Performances Out of Them

Vincent Gallo is under investigation by SAG for the sexually inappropriate things he reportedly said during auditions for "The Policeman"

Vincent Gallo
Vincent Gallo in 2015.

On Thursday, Rolling Stone broke the news that actor and director Vincent Gallo is currently being investigated by the Screen Actors Guild after two actresses filed formal complaints about the sexually explicit and inappropriate things he said to them during the casting process for his movie The Policeman. In the film, Gallo plays Joseph James DeAngelo, better known as the Golden State Killer, a serial killer and rapist who terrorized women in California in the ’70s and ’80s before finally being arrested in 2018.

According to the two women who anonymously spoke to Rolling Stone after auditioning to play some of DeAngelo’s victims, they were aware that the roles called for full nudity and knew ahead of time that, given the horrific subject matter, the movie would be extremely dark; but when they met Gallo, he told them the film would be mostly improvised and that he needed carte blanche to do whatever he wanted to them while filming — rather than blocking out a specific agreed-upon scene in the presence of an intimacy coordinator, as is customary in nude scenes these days — in order to elicit a genuine response from them.

One woman claims that Gallo told her, “If I say to suck my dick or I will kill you, I want you, you the person, not you the character, not you the actor, but you, to truly believe you will die if you don’t do as I say. And just like you would in real life, if this were happening to you, I want you to do all of the actions necessary to do that. You won’t actually suck my dick, but you do not have the power, I have all the power. You have no control, I am in complete control.”

“He [told me] that the filming environment he wanted to create was one that was fully improvised,” the second actress wrote in her complaint to the Screen Actors Guild. “In order to truly tell the story in an ‘accurate way,’ he needed actresses who were willing to have their ‘minds and bodies be 100 percent dominated by him’ from the moment they arrived on set.”

There’s a long, shameful history in Hollywood of actors essentially assaulting their female costars on camera and then trying to excuse it by claiming they did it to draw out a more authentic performance. The most infamous example is Last Tango in Paris, where director Bernardo Bertolucci and actor Marlon Brando didn’t warn Maria Schneider in advance that her character was about to be raped with butter as lubricant. In the filming of Kramer vs. Kramer, Dustin Hoffman slapped Meryl Streep across the face without permission. These men fancy themselves to be artistic greats; why, then, do they believe that the only way for women to believably seem terrified or humiliated onscreen is to actually terrify and humiliate them in real life?

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Shouldn’t the power of acting be enough here? You don’t have to actually go to space to convincingly portray an astronaut, or go out and slice a few throats in order to accurately depict a murderer. And let’s not forget that one out of every five women in the United States is a victim of rape or sexual assault. That means that, statistically speaking, there’s a very good chance that these actresses have already experienced some of the horrific stuff in their real lives that Gallo is subjecting them to in the name of “authenticity.”

“I may ask you to suck my cock on screen, and I want an actress who is not going to put up a fight about that,” Gallo reportedly told one of the women. “You’re going to be offended by what I ask you, but I don’t want any of your personal feminist values. You don’t want to do this, you don’t think it’s fair, but you know what? The victim didn’t have a choice, and neither will you as the actress… Of course we can’t ACTUALLY have you give me head on screen, but the point is that I want someone who will not stop production to call their agent, or complain, etc. because they are offended.”

First of all, what is this creep’s obsession with making women suck his dick onscreen? He brings it up multiple times in the complaints cited in the Rolling Stone piece (including when he allegedly told one of the actresses that if he asks her “about the first time you sucked a cock,” he wants her to tell a story from her real-life sexual history), but he also infamously had Chloe Sevigny perform unsimulated oral sex on him in 2003’s controversial and much-maligned The Brown Bunny. It begs the question: did Sevigny feel pressured or coerced into that scene? (In a 2010 interview, as Rolling Stone notes, Sevigny said, “There are a lot of emotions. I’ll probably have to go to therapy at some point.”)

“We don’t want to see any acting. If DeAngelo says don’t scream or I’ll kill you, you do not scream, because if you do, you die. DeAngelo hates screaming. He hates fighters,” Gallo also said, according to one of the complaints filed against him. “We don’t want to see you act, we don’t want to see you pretend. DeAngelo hates acting. DeAngelo hates actors. DeAngelo hates liars.”

DeAngelo is also currently serving multiple life sentences for murdering 13 people and raping at least 51 others, so who the fuck cares what he thinks?

If you, on the other hand, hate torture porn, it sounds like you should probably plan on skipping The Policeman.

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