James Cameron would have shown “no mercy” had he known about Eliza Dushku’s alleged experience on the set of his 1994 film True Lies, he said at TCA on Saturday. Eliza Dushku — who was 12 years old at the time of filming — posted on Facebook on Friday that she was sexually molested by then 36-year-old stunt coordinator Joel Kramer.
At TCA representing his new AMC Visionaries project James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction, the director and explorer said, “I just heard about it, but obviously Eliza is very brave for speaking up, and I think all the women are that are speaking up and calling for a reckoning now.”
Expressing a need for change across the board, Cameron continued, “I think this has been endemic throughout human systems, not just Hollywood. But because Hollywood deals with women who were victims 10, 15, 20 years ago who are famous today, they get to have a louder voice when they come forward, so bravo for them for doing it, and I’m glad Eliza did that. It’s just heartbreaking that it happened to her.”
Cameron well remembered the man Dushku is accusing of molesting her. “I know the other party, not well, he hasn’t worked for me since then,” he said, “but the fact that this was happening under our noses, and we didn’t know about it. I think going forward it’s important for all industries, and certainly Hollywood, to create a safe avenue for people to speak up, that they feel safe and that anybody that might be a predator or an abuser knows that that mechanism is there, that it’s encouraged and there’s no shame around it and there will be consequences.”
Clearly, Cameron felt troubled on a personal level by Eliza’s testimony, despite the hope that things are set to change in all industries. “I think this is a great moment in history, unfortunately, it’s founded on personal tragedies for so many of these women. This is not a reckoning for Hollywood, this is not a reckoning for Americans, this is a reckoning for the human race. This shit’s been going on since day one…Hopefully, we will put something in place as an industry practice to do as much as we can.”
Cameron said he had had no idea what was going on because he is always removed from interpersonal situations on a set since he’s usually so focused on his creative process. “Directors are historically pretty oblivious to the interpersonal things that are happening on their sets,” he said. “Had I known about it, there would have been no mercy. Now especially that I have daughters there would really have been no mercy.”
With reference to his current AMC project, Cameron also discussed the importance of dystopian science fiction such as The Handmaid’s Tale, as vital social commentary, and the historical use of science fiction as an expression of the need for social change. For example in the 50s and 60s, alien invasion movies or monster movies were, he said, “Americans dealing with their angst over the threat of communism.”