Frank Langella rebuts allegation of unacceptable behavior after Netflix firing – Deadline
Editor’s note: On April 13, Deadline announced that Frank Langella had been fired as the lead of the Netflix limited series The Fall of the House of Usher after an investigation into alleged unacceptable on-set conduct, including sexual harassment towards the actress playing his wife. At the time, we reached out to the Oscar-nominated actor for comment. Here is his reaction to the sacking, written as a guest column.
I was cancelled. Just like that.
In the growing madness that is currently taking over our industry, I could not have imagined that the words collateral damage would fall on my shoulders. They brought with them a weight that I never expected to carry in the last decades of my career. And with that came an unforeseen sense of grave danger.
On April 14 of this year, I was fired by Netflix for what they deemed to be unacceptable on-set behavior. My first instinct was to blame. Go wild and get revenge. I’ve interviewed crisis managers, hard-hitting lawyers, likeable $800-an-hour professionals. Free advice was also provided:
“Don’t play the victim.” “Don’t pursue. They will dig into your past. “Sign the NDA, take the money and run.” “Do the talk shows. Show contrition; feign humility. Say you learned a lot.
Apologize. Apologize. Apologize.
I was playing the lead role of Roderick Usher in the Edgar Allan Poe classic The Fall of House Usher, modernized into an eight-episode series for Netflix. It’s a glorious role and I had come to regard it as, quite possibly, my last hurrah. Oddly prophetic in the current circumstances.
On March 25 of this year, I was performing a love scene with the actress playing my young wife. We were both fully dressed. I was sitting on a sofa, she was standing in front of me. The director called cut. “He touched my leg,” the actress said. “It wasn’t in the blocking.” She then turned and left the set, followed by the director and the intimacy coordinator. I tried to follow, but was asked to “give him some space”. I waited about an hour and then was told she wasn’t coming back on set and we were thrilled.
Shortly after, an investigation began. About a week later, human resources asked to speak to me on the phone. “Before the love scene started on March 25,” the questioner said, “our intimacy coordinator suggested where you both should put your hands. It has come to our attention that you said, “That’s nonsense! And I still think so. It was a filmed love scene. Legislating the placement of hands, in my opinion, is ridiculous. It undermines instinct and spontaneity. Towards the end of our conversation, she suggested that I not contact the young woman, the privacy coordinator or anyone else at the company. “We don’t want to risk retaliation,” she said. When I mentioned that it was definitely not my intention to… she politely cut me off and said, “Intent is none of our business. Netflix only deals with impact.
When you are the main actor, it requires, in my opinion, that you lead by example by keeping a light and friendly atmosphere. Nevertheless, here are some of the allegations: 1. “He told a crude joke. 2. “Sometimes he called me baby or honey.” 3. “He was hugging me or touching my shoulder.”
“You can’t do this, Frank,” our producer said. “You can’t joke. You cannot compliment. You cannot touch. This is a new order.
On April 13, the following article appeared on TMZ: “Frank Langella fired by Netflix for fondling young actress between takes and she stormed off set. This is obviously false. It’s a total lie. The actress was mentioned by name. The same young woman who accused me of “touching her leg” on camera in the love scene. The following day, the article was corrected to read: “Frank Langella not fired but under investigation.” In this version, the actress’s name was dropped.
That afternoon, I was fired. I did not have an audience with Netflix. My request to meet the actress one-on-one was denied. The directors and producer stopped responding to my emails and phone calls. Within 30 minutes of my firing, a letter was sent to the cast and crew and a full press release was sent out immediately. My reps and I had no opportunity to comment or collaborate on the story.
I can’t speak to the intentions of my accuser or Netflix, but the impact on me has been incalculable. I have lost an exciting part, the chance for future income, and I may be facing a period of unemployment. Netflix fired me after three months on the job with only three weeks of filming, and I have yet to be fully compensated for my services. More importantly, my reputation has been tarnished.
These indignities are, in my opinion, the true definition of unacceptable behavior.
Cancel culture is the antithesis of democracy. It inhibits conversation and debate. This limits our ability to listen, mediate and exchange opposing viewpoints. More tragically, it annihilates moral judgment.
It is not fair. It is not fair. It’s not American.
May 5, 2022