Does Anyone Care About ‘Amsterdam’ Director David O. Russell’s Alleged Abusive, Predatory Behavior?

One of fall's biggest releases was directed by someone who has faced multiple allegations of actually dangerous behavior.

Does Anyone Care About ‘Amsterdam’ Director David O. Russell’s Alleged Abusive, Predatory Behavior?

Don’t Worry Darling, out this weekend, has been plagued by scandal for months now, primarily over juicy allegations of a rift between director Olivia Wilde and lead actor Florence Pugh stemming from Wilde’s ongoing romance with co-star Harry Styles. The constant rumor-mongering surrounding the movie has prompted some (including Wilde herself) to speculate about whether a hypothetical male director accused of sexual misconduct would face even half the backlash she’s faced. Turns out, that hypothetical is actually quite real! I give you Amsterdam’s David O. Russell.

Amsterdam, slated to drop on Oct. 7, has a cast exploding with star power that features Margot Robbie, Christian Bale, Chris Rock, Rami Malek, Anya Taylor-Joy, Robert DeNiro, Zoe Saldaña, and even Taylor Swift. All of these A-list stars were apparently not just willing but happy to work with Russell, despite allegations that he sexually assaulted his niece, as well as stories of his aggressive behavior from Amy Adams and George Clooney, who have both worked with Russell.

In 2012, the director’s niece, Nichole Peloqui, filed a police report accusing Russell of groping her breasts while they were at the gym, shortly after Russell had offered to help Peloqui with ab exercises. Peloqui was undergoing gender-reassignment surgery at the time. After she filed the police report, Russell told officers that his niece had been asking for it—in his words, according to the police report, “acting very provocative toward him.” At the time, he told The Wrap he “emphatically denies any wrongdoing and has cooperated fully with the authorities.”

In 2016, Adams said in an interview with GQ that Russell regularly made her cry during their work on American Hustle. “He did [make me cry]—I was really just devastated on set,” Adams said. That sort of cruelty had allegedly been going on for years: In 1999, George Clooney reportedly got into a physical altercation with Russell on the set of Three Kings over Russell’s treatment of crew members and extras—a rumor Clooney all but confirmed in a 2004 interview. “Quite honestly, if he comes near me, I’ll sock him right in the fucking mouth,” Clooney told a magazine. In a separate interview, Russell alleged Clooney had instigated the fight, and echoed Clooney’s hostility: “I never physically attacked him. If I ran into him, I’d say, ‘Shut the fuck up, you lying-ass bitch.’”

Celebrity feud gossip—like that produced by Don’t Worry Darling—is a fun distraction. But abusive behavior (especially in a workplace) deserves intense media scrutiny—as do the choices made by actors to work with the director involved. The contrast between the (fun!) circus surrounding Darling’s relatively innocuous drama about its director and the swept-under-the-rug allegations against Amsterdam’s director is a textbook case of the double standards women in power face—which probably contributes to why there are so few, especially when it comes to celebrated film directors.

Amsterdam comes out in less than two weeks, and, in a wish-fulfillment sort of way, I look forward to members of the media pressing Russell the way Stephen Colbert grilled Olivia Wilde.

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