Casting couch

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The casting couch, casting-couch syndrome, or casting-couch mentality is the demanding of sexual favors by an employer or person in a position of power and authority, from an apprentice employee, or subordinate to a superior in return for entry into an occupation, or for other career advancement within an organization.[citation needed] The term casting couch originated in the motion picture industry, with specific reference to couches in offices that could be used for sexual activity between casting directors or film producers and aspiring actors.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

Within the adult entertainment industry, content featuring fictitious[7] casting couch scenarios has become a popular niche.[8]

Notable casting couch remarks and incidents[edit]

United States[edit]

  • The legend of the Hollywood casting couch coincided with the rise of the studio system in the 1910s. Several mogul producers were rumoured to have been enthusiastic practitioners, and it has been claimed that many actresses attempted, with varying degrees of success, to attain stardom via this route.[9][10][11]
  • In 1945, Maureen O'Hara was quoted as saying, "I don't let the producer and director kiss me every morning or let them paw me".[12] In 2004, she repeated: "I wouldn't throw myself on the casting couch, and I know that cost me parts."[13]
  • In a 1996 interview, actor Woody Harrelson declared "every [acting] business I ever entered into in New York seemed to have a casting couch ... I've seen so many people sleep with people they loathe in order to further their ambition."[14]
  • At a 2005 class reunion, producer Chris Hanley told his former classmates that "almost every leading actress in all of [his] 24 films has slept with a director or producer or a leading actor to get the part that launched her career".[15]
  • In 2006, a New York City producer was accused of sexually harassing several members of the cast of the off-Broadway play Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead. She had previously been accused of harassing actors Gabriel Byrne, Aidan Quinn, Esai Morales and Joey McIntyre.[16]
  • In 2017, Lance Bass of 'N Sync wrote that "as a society, we've been become far too comfortable with the pervasive 'casting couch' adage that it no longer resembles what it truly is—sexual assault. ... I grew up in the entertainment business and I've experienced my share of unwanted advances from both men and women who saw me as a target."[17]
  • In 2009, Megan Fox stated that "Any casting couch shit I've experienced has been since I've become famous. It's really so heartbreaking. Some of these people! Like Hollywood legends. You think you're going to meet them and you're so excited, like, 'I can't believe this person wants to have a conversation with me,' and you get there and you realise that's not what they want, at all. It's happened a lot this year actually."[18]
  • In a 2009 interview with OK! Magazine, actress Charlize Theron claimed that when she was 18 she was propositioned at an audition by a pajama-clad Hollywood director.[19] "I thought it was a little odd that the audition was on a Saturday night at his house in Los Angeles, but I thought maybe that was normal."[20]
  • In a 2009 interview, actor Mickey Rourke declared: "There's definitely something called a casting couch... if you take a girl from the Midwest with a pretty face and instead of inviting them in for an audition in the morning, the directors invite them for dinner at night? ... I can recall with certain women, we'd go out, I'd park the car on Sunset and by the time I'd got to the curb there'd be three or four producers handing them cards. ... There's ways you get a job and ways you get a job."[21]
  • In a 2010 interview with Access Hollywood, actress Lisa Rinna said a producer had asked her for "a quickie" when she was a 24-year-old candidate for a role on a prominent television series.[22] At the same interview, Rinna's husband Harry Hamlin claimed that a female casting director attempted to seduce him in the late 1970s when he was 27.[23][24]
  • In 2011, Corey Feldman alleged that children were also victims of the casting couch.[25] Paul Petersen said that some of the culprits are "still in the game" and Alison Arngrim claimed that Feldman and Corey Haim were given drugs and "passed around" in the 1980s.[26] During the Harvey Weinstein scandal in 2017, Feldman launched a campaign to make a documentary to bring down a powerful Hollywood paedophile ring.[27]
  • In the November 2012 issue of Elle, Susan Sarandon spoke of a "really disgusting" casting-couch experience in New York City in the late 1960s or early 1970s. "I just went into a room and a guy practically threw me on the desk. It was my early days in New York and it was really disgusting. It wasn't like I gave it a second thought. It was so badly done."[28][29]
  • In 2015, Rebecca Carroll wrote a piece about being sexually assaulted when she was 14 by a famous New York City TV anchor.[30]
  • In July 2016, television executive Roger Ailes was accused of sexual harassment by former Fox News Channel anchor Gretchen Carlson. More than twenty other women, including Megyn Kelly and Andrea Tantaros, have since come forward with similar allegations about Ailes' predatory casting couch-like behavior in the television industry over a 50-year period.[31] Since then, Fox's Bill O'Reilly has also been accused by multiple women of sexual harassment; $45 million has so far been paid to six women.[32]
  • On 1 November 2016, defense lawyers for Bill Cosby, who has been accused of sexual assault by over 60 women, wrote that, "Even if proven (and it could not be), the age-old 'casting couch' is not unique to Mr. Cosby, and thus not a 'signature' nor a basis for the admissibility of these witnesses' stories, let alone a conviction."[citation needed] (Cosby was convicted of sexual assault charges on April 26th, 2018).
  • On 15 October 2017, Alison Doody and Ruth O'Neill recounted their experience of the Los Angeles casting couch.[33]
  • On 3 November 2017, Kyle Richards described a producer saying "very perverted things" to her when she met him to discuss a role at the Beverly Hills Hotel when she was younger.[34]
  • On 25 May 2018, Harvey Weinstein's attorney Benjamin Brafman imparted that Weinstein "did not invent the casting couch in Hollywood."[35] Brafman also later stated: "My job is to defend specific allegations of sexual misconduct, not the issue of the Hollywood casting couch over the last 30 or 100 years," before apologising for using the term "casting couch" and saying that he would "never" use the phrase again.[36]


  • In 1956, British fan magazine Picturegoer published a four-part casting-couch exposé entitled "The Perils of Show Business" featuring interviews with actresses such as Joy Webster, Dorinda Stevens, Anne Heywood and Marigold Russell.[37]
  • In 1998 and 1999, producer Alain Sarde and actor Robert de Niro were two of the high-profile filmmakers involved in two Parisian court cases exposing the borderline between the casting couch and prostitution for aspiring models and starlets.[38]
  • In 2002, actress Lesley-Anne Down spoke of finding fame in the late 1960s: "The casting couch was in full swing, people expected it... My teen-age years were pretty intense, a lot of pressure and a lot of horrible old men out there".[39] In a 1977 interview, she had also said: "I was promised lots of lovely big film parts by American producers if I went to bed with them... Believe me, the casting couch is no myth".[40]
  • In 2005, French film director Jean-Claude Brisseau was found guilty and convicted of "casting couch abuse" against two actresses between 1999 and 2001 during auditions for Choses Secrètes (2002).[41]
  • In 2007, actress Helen Mirren claimed director Michael Winner had treated her "like a piece of meat" at a casting call in 1964.[42][43] Asked about the incident, Winner told The Guardian: "I don't remember asking her to turn around but if I did I wasn't being serious. I was only doing what the [casting] agent asked me – and for this I get reviled! Helen's a lovely person, she's a great actress and I'm a huge fan, but her memory of that moment is a little flawed."[44]
  • In 2008, actress Ingrid Pitt described the unwelcome advances of two producers in hotels.[45]
  • In August 2012, actress Julie Delpy spoke out about casting-couch paedophiles in France in the 1980s.[46]
  • In 2013, Myleene Klass stated that, "I don't think there's a single person in the entertainment industry that hasn't, at some point, experienced the casting couch thing".[47] Earlier, in 2010, she revealed a major Hollywood star (named in 2017 as Harvey Weinstein)[48] wanted to sign a sex contract with her.[49]
  • In 2013, Thandie Newton told CNN of how, aged 18, she was auditioned by a male director and a female casting director. "The director asked me to sit with my legs apart – the camera was positioned where it could see up my skirt – to put my leg over the arm of the chair and before I started my dialogue, [I was told] to think about the character I was supposed to be having the dialogue with and how it felt to be made love to by this person. It turned out the director used to show that video late at night to interested parties at his house – a video of me touching myself with a camera up my skirt." She declined to name the director.[50]
  • On 20 October 2017, an article by English actress Sarah Solemani described the "inappropriate" behaviour of a director when she was 19 and the "appalling" audition room practices of a "toxic" industry.[51][52]
  • On 24 October 2017, discussing a sexual harassment he has allegedly experienced, actor Kevin Sorbo said that "Casting couches have always been around. I don't play that game, nor do I care to."[53]


  • In 2003 and 2006, Chinese actress Zhang Yu (张钰) released several graphic audio recordings and sex videos that she made herself to document her allegations that she won roles through the casting couch.[54] The videos were released on YouTube but have been subsequently removed.[55]
  • In 2009, Indian actress Suchitra Krishnamoorthi reported an incident in her blog where she narrowly escaped sexual advances from a producer while casting for a film role.[56]
  • In 2011, India TV unveiled a series of exposes on the Bollywood casting couch using hidden cameras. They showed young actresses routinely being asked by male personalities including actors, directors and producers to sleep with them in return for favours such as a good word to another director or producer. In a follow up interview by BBC, Shakti Kapoor described "Will you co-operate with me" as the code that was used by the Bollywood industry as a proposal to sleep with that person in return for a film role. Other Bollywood entities corroborated this.[57]
  • In 2014, Indian actor Shashi Kapoor said that the casting couch existed in India in the 1960s for newcomer leading men by established leading heroines. Therefore, he was grateful to star Nanda for not subjecting him to the casting couch when she agreed to star with him when he was an unknown actor.[58]
  • In 2015, Ranveer Singh described a "sleazy man in Andheri" who invited him to his house on the pretext of a lucrative opportunity.[59]
  • In 2016, actress Tisca Chopra recounted how she avoided the casting-couch plans of a producer.[60]
  • In March 2017, South Indian actress Varalaxmi Sarathkumar tweeted about being propositioned by the programming head of a leading TV channel and wrote that "I didn't come to the industry to be treated like a piece of meat."[61] Other Tollywood actresses have made similar accusations.[62]
  • In November 2017, Kangana Ranaut and several other actresses spoke out against Bollywood's casting couch.[63][64][65]
  • In April 2018, Sri Reddy, an Indian film actress, stripped herself in the public and protested against sexual harassment in the film industry. [66]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "'Casting Couch': The Origins of a Pernicious Hollywood Cliché". The Atlantic. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  2. ^ "In 1956, a Fan Magazine Published a Four-Part Casting Couch Exposé. It Didn't Go Well". Slate. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  3. ^ "Casting-Couch Tactics Plagued Hollywood Long Before Harvey Weinstein". Variety. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  4. ^ "Exploring the casting couch culture of LA". BBC. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  5. ^ Elaine Dutka (15 October 1991). "Scenes From the Home of the Casting Couch: The Talk of the Country Has Hit a Nerve in the Industry That Creates the Images of Women in Popular Culture". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  6. ^ Hutchinson, Pamela (October 19, 2017). "Moguls and starlets: 100 years of Hollywood's corrosive, systemic sexism". The Guardian. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  7. ^ "The Dirty Secret Behind Dirty Movies, by James King and Jesse Lenz (Maxim magazine - April 2014)". Pastebin. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  8. ^ Russo, Maria Del (September 6, 2017). "Why This Woman Wants People To Take A Closer Look At Casting Couch Porn". Refinery29. Retrieved March 4, 2018.
  9. ^ Freedland, Michael (2009) The Men Who Made Hollywood: The Lives of the Great Movie Moguls, London: Aurum Press.
  10. ^ Gil Troy (2017-10-15). "The Casting Couch Perverts Who Peddled Fairy Tales". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2017-10-15.
  11. ^ "Moguls and starlets: 100 years of Hollywood's corrosive, systemic sexism". Guardian. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  12. ^ "Maureen O'Hara's comment about sexual harassment in Hollywood from 1945 is going viral". Indy100. 5 November 2017.
  13. ^ "Maureen O'Hara: I wasn't going to play the whore". Indy100. 8 November 2014.
  14. ^ Stephanie Mansfield, "Wild and Woody", Chicago Sun-Times, July 5, 1996.
  15. ^ "News from the casting couch", Chicago Sun-Times, June 10, 2005.
  16. ^ "Turning tables on the casting couch". The Observer. 19 February 2006. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
  17. ^ "Lance Bass Opens Up About Unwanted Advances 'From Both Men and Women'". Variety. November 2017. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  18. ^ "Fox slams 'casting couch' directors". Express. 5 June 2009.
  19. ^ [1]
  20. ^ "Susan Sarandon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Charlize Theron & More Casting Couch Horror Stories (Photos)". The Daily Beast. 2012-10-16. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
  21. ^ Ben Arnold (7 June 2009). "What I know about women: Mickey Rourke, actor, 56, married twice, currently single". Guardian. London. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
  22. ^ Shuter, Rob (October 11, 2010). "Lisa Rinna's Horrifying Casting Couch Admission". Popeater. Retrieved May 31, 2011.
  23. ^ "Harry Hamlin & Lisa Rinna Were Both 'Casting Couch' Victims". 2010-10-13. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
  24. ^ "Access Investigates: Hollywood Casting Couch Horrors!". Access Hollywood. 2010-10-14. Archived from the original on 2013-10-27. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
  25. ^ "Paedophilia Hollywood's biggest problem alleges child star Corey Feldman". Daily Mail. 12 August 2011. Retrieved 12 August 2011.
  26. ^ "Hollywood's dirty little secret: Child sexual abuse". American Thinker. 6 December 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  27. ^ "Corey Feldman launches campaign to expose Hollywood paedophilia". Guardian. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  28. ^ "Susan Sarandon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Charlize Theron & More Casting Couch Horror Stories (Photos)". The Daily Beast. 2012-10-16. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
  29. ^ Morgan, Celeste (14 October 2012). "'It was really disgusting': Susan Sarandon reveals she was exploited on the casting couch as a young actress". Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  30. ^ "The power of the 'casting couch' is in how it's used to shame its victims". Guardian. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  31. ^ "6 More Women Allege That Roger Ailes Sexually Harassed Them". New York Magazine. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  32. ^ "Bill O'Reilly Settled New Harassment Claim, Then Fox Renewed His Contract". New York Times. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  33. ^ "The Weinstein effect - Irish women speak out: 'I saw him openly grope women at an Oscar party. Nobody did anything'". Independent. 15 October 2017.
  34. ^ "Kyle Richards Tells Jeff Lewis About a Hollywood Casting Couch Situation That Made Her Uncomfortable". Bravo TV. 3 November 2017.
  35. ^ "Harvey Weinstein didn't invent the casting couch, his lawyer says". Page Six. 25 May 2018.
  36. ^ "Harvey Weinstein pleads not guilty on rape and criminal sex act charges". Guardian. 6 June 2018.
  37. ^ "In 1956, a Fan Magazine Published a Four-Part Casting Couch Exposé. It Didn't Go Well". Slate. Retrieved 2017-10-13.
  38. ^ "The princes and the call girls". The Independent. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  39. ^ "Actress Lesley-Anne Down's career's definitely on the up and up". South Coast Today. 2002-02-24. Retrieved 2014-09-25.
  40. ^ "Chatter". People Magazine. 1977-03-21. Retrieved 2014-09-25.
  41. ^ Fouché, Gwladys (20 December 2005). "Director convicted of casting couch abuse". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  42. ^ Tim Walker (3 May 2013). "David Cameron keeps his distance from film director Michael Winner". Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
  43. ^ "Helen Mirren: The day Michael Winner treated me like a piece of meat". Daily Mail. London. 17 December 2007. Retrieved 5 December 2012.
  44. ^ "Susan Sarandon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Charlize Theron & More Casting Couch Horror Stories (Photos)". The Daily Beast. 2012-10-16. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
  45. ^ "The Ingrid Pitt column: the reality of the casting couch". The Den of Geek. 2008-01-01. Retrieved 2014-09-25.
  46. ^ Longworth, Karina (2012-08-02). "Julie Delpy Is Fighting Everything That's Wrong With Movies". LA Weekly. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
  47. ^ "Myleene Klass: I've been offered work in exchange for sexual favours. it's rife in showbiz". Mirror. 2013-05-25. Retrieved 2014-09-25.
  48. ^ "'HE REVOLTED ME' Harvey Weinstein 'offered Myleene Klass sex contract' – but she told him to f*** off". The Sun. 2017-10-13. Retrieved 2017-10-13.
  49. ^ "'A married Hollywood star asked me to sign a sex contract,' reveals Myleene Klass". Daily Mail. 2010-09-29. Retrieved 2014-09-25.
  50. ^ Nixon, Tim (2013-02-15). "Thandie Newton: I was abused on the casting couch". The Sun. London. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
  51. ^ "Sarah Solemani: 'The TV and film industries are toxic – and it starts in the audition room'". Guardian. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  52. ^ "Three British Actors Explain Why Casting Couch Culture Isn't Just A Hollywood Problem". Huffpost. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  53. ^ "Kevin Sorbo Alleges Designer Gianni Versace Sexually Harassed Him". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  54. ^ Anthony Kuhn (January 20, 2007). "China Debates Morality, Exploitation of Women". NPR. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
  55. ^ "Sex, Lies And Videotape: Actress' Disclosure". Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  56. ^ "I experienced casting couch: Suchitra". India Today.
  57. ^ "This world - Bollywood, the casting couch". BBC. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  58. ^ "Nanda's last outing".
  59. ^ "It Happens To Men Too. In A Shocking Revelation, Ranveer Singh Admits He Also Faced The Casting Couch!". India Times. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  60. ^ "Tisca Chopra Reveals How She Escaped A Casting Couch Experience And It's Surprisingly Hilarious!". India Times. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  61. ^ "Actress speaks out against 'casting couch culture'". Guardian. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  62. ^ "Actresses Openly Confess about Casting Couch in Film Industry". Telegu FilmNagar. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  63. ^ "In the wake of Harvey Weinstein, Bollywood stars are speaking out about sexual harassment". Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  64. ^ "Sri Reddy: Big directors, producers, and heroes use studios as brothels". 10 April 2018.
  65. ^ "'He used to force me to have sex': Telugu actress Sri Reddy's shocking allegations against top producer's son, leaks pic". 11 April 2018.
  66. ^ Gettleman, Jeffrey (8 April 2018). "Indian Actress Stages a Topless #MeToo Protest" – via

Further reading[edit]

Further viewing[edit]

  • David Stenn's documentary Girl 27 (2007) explores the political power of movie studios in 1930s Hollywood, as well as public attitudes toward sexual assault that discouraged victims from coming forward.
  • Ken Sheetz's documentary Discover Me! (2012) features a 6-minute section entitled "Sexual Politics" where several struggling actors describe their casting-couch experiences in Hollywood.
  • Amy Berg's documentary An Open Secret (2014) follows the stories of five former child actors whose lives were turned upside down by multiple predators, including the convicted sex offenders Marc Collins-Rector, Brian Peck, Martin Weiss and Bob Villard.

External links[edit]