Have film sets become safer spaces for women since #MeToo?
It's a credit to Netflix that they acted so decisively when firing Frank Langella earlier this week, says Hanna Flint
Friday 15 April 2022 By Hanna Flint
Earlier this week, TMZ reported that Langella was under investigation for alleged sexual harassment on the British Columbia set of the Edgar Allan Poe adaptation, which co-stars Mark Hamill, Carl Lumbly, Mary McDonnell, Henry Thomas, T’Nia Miller, Kate Siegel, Michael Trucco, and Paola Nuñez. A source close to the production told the outlet a complaint had been made about ‘an inappropriate joke that was sexual in nature’, as well as the alleged touching of the leg of a female co-star and making the comment ‘Did you like that?’ I certainly did not like reading it.
On Thursday, Deadline confirmed that the 84-year-old had been fired from the role as a result of the investigation and a new actor was going to be recast by showrunner Mike Flanagan in the role of Roderick Usher. The shoot was apparently halfway through production, so the scenes already filmed by Langella will have to be reshot. It’s a shame Christopher Plummer isn’t still with us. Remember when he stepped up for All The Money In The World when Kevin Spacey had to be edited out of the film that had already been shot because he was alleged to have been [outed as] a sexual predator by a #MeToo investigation?
These allegations against Langella are obviously not in the same ballpark as Spacey but it doesn't mean that they should not be taken seriously, and it’s a credit to Netflix that they acted so decisively when the accused is the lead. Film sets are notoriously toxic places to work because of the free rein that men have had to act the way they want towards women, especially when the man in question is an iconic Hollywood figure and also top billing.
With recent accusations of Noel Clarke’s sexual misconduct and the alleged toxic work environments on the sets of Justice League, Batwoman, heck, even Buffy The Vampire Slayer 25 years later, it’s refreshing to read that people in power have not waited until after the fact to investigate and take appropriate action against industry figures having a detrimental effect on the people around them.
And I really don’t want to hear Langella’s age used as a defence. The man’s been on this planet for 84 years, as long as that old lady from Titanic has been grieving Leonardo DiCaprio, and he should know better. It’s not like he’s been living under a rock since 2017. He’s worked on seven film and TV projects since 2016, so the idea that he could be unaware of the #MeToo vibe shift towards appropriate conduct on set because he’s an OAP, only infantilises him. If he has been actively avoiding the conversation, well more fool him. If a working actor doesn’t know how to behave on film sets, then ‘The Fall’ is on them.
This week marks the 20-year anniversary of <i>Bend It Like Beckham</i>, an iconic piece of British cinema that was especially influential to this sporty teen of colour and Manchester United fan, who grew up near Hounslow.
Gurinder Chadha really delivered with her funny, female-focused coming of age story steeped in British-Indian culture, though it’s bittersweet that it did more for Keira Knightley’s film career than it did its lead, Parminder Nagra.
Still, it would be remiss of me to not mark the occasion with a shout out to costume designer Ralph Wheeler-Holes for pulling Jules’s legendary, naughty noughties look she wore on that fateful night in Berlin. A backless silver chainmail top, with a cowl neck and red tiger stripes paired with a red eyelet belt, leather trousers and jacket combo? Are you for real, Ralph?
And yet, Knightley, the former model that she was, pulls it off like it had been made to measure from heaven. An ensemble like no other in a film like no other. Happy anniversary. Now let me hit Depop so I can recreate it.