Miami Beach native Brett Ratner, who went on to become one of Hollywood’s most powerful director-producers, is the latest movie mogul to be accused of sexual misconduct.
The revelation comes after scores of women have come forward to name producer Harvey Weinstein, and later director James Toback, as an alleged sexual predator.
Six women, including actresses Olivia Munn, Natasha Henstridge and Katharine Towne, have spoken out against Ratner, 48, whose films include “X-Men: The Last Stand,” “Rush Hour” and “Horrible Bosses.”
A lengthy exposé in Wednesday’s Los Angeles Times details the alleged incidents. Ratner, through his long-time attorney Martin Singer, who sent a 10-page letter to the Times, “categorically” disputed their accounts.
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“I have represented Mr. Ratner for two decades, and no woman has ever made a claim against him for sexual misconduct or sexual harassment,” Singer said in his letter to the Times. “Furthermore, no woman has ever requested or received any financial settlement from my client.”
But the women are now telling their stories.
Henstridge said she fell asleep on Ratner’s couch when she was a 19-year-old fashion model and he was a music video director for stars like Public Enemy and LL Cool J when he was in his early 20s. Ratner, a Class of 1986 Miami Beach Senior High graduate, blocked the doorway when she woke and tried to leave, she said. He forced her to perform oral sex. “He strong-armed me in a real way. He physically forced himself on me,” she told the Times.
The Canadian actress had her breakthrough role in the 1995 sci-fi film, “Species.” Ratner did not work on that film.
Munn said that while visiting the set of the 2004 Ratner-directed “After the Sunset,” he “furiously” masturbated in front of her and ejaculated in his trailer when she went to deliver a meal. “Before I literally could even figure out where to escape or where to look,” she told the Times.
Munn, who later had roles in non-Ratner films like “Iron Man 2” and “X-Men: Apocalypse,” wrote about the alleged incident in her 2010 collection of essays, “Suck It, Wonder Woman! The Misadventures of a Hollywood Geek,” without naming Ratner.
“I’ve made specific, conscientious choices not to work with Brett Ratner,” Munn told the Los Angeles Times after she became infuriated at sexual comments she claimed Ratner had repeatedly made to her after her book was released, and to support other women who are “brave enough to speak up.”
Towne, daughter of “Chinatown” screenwriter Robert Towne,” said Ratner was overly aggressive in his come-ons at a Hollywood party in 2005. She called the come-ons “extreme.”
Singer, Ratner’s attorney, responded, “How is flirting at a party, complimenting a woman on her appearance, and calling her to ask her for a date wrongful conduct?”
In the wake of Weinstein, with a Miami accuser who said she left the film industry after her alleged experience with the producer, more than a dozen men in film, music and stage have been accused of sexual misconduct. They include Kevin Spacey, Ben Affleck, David Blaine, even President George H.W. Bush.
In 2012, Ratner co-founded the production company RatPac Entertainment, which partnered with Dune Entertainment in a co-financing deal with Warner Bros. worth about $450 million. RatPac-Dune Entertainment is one of the biggest financiers of recent Warner Bros. film hits “Wonder Woman” and the adaptation of Stephen King’s, “It,” which, this fall, went on to become the highest grossing R-rated horror film in history.
The Los Angeles Times’ account could impact Warner Bros., which now must do “damage control,” Business Insider reported Wednesday. The company is due to release Steven Spielberg’s latest film, “Ready Player One,” in 2018. Warner Bros. is also a major part of Time Warner that is being acquired by AT&T in a deal with a preliminary agreement price tag of $85 billion, according to Business Insider.
Ratner, a child of 1970s and ’80s Miami Beach, had arrived in Hollywood in a major way. Five former assistants who worked closely with him over the years during his rise to the top defend him against the allegations. They all said they did not witness Ratner misbehave and had high praise for him as a boss and a mentor.
Ratner credited his simple roots as a grounding influence.
He was raised by a single mom and his grandparents. When Dr. Mario Presman, a radiologist born Mieczyslaw Pressman in Poland and raised in Cuba, died at 94 in 2014, Ratner called his grandfather “my father” for an obituary in the Miami Herald.
“He taught us by example by living a life with integrity, with dignity and with love,” Ratner said of his granddad.
When Ratner achieved success in Hollywood through “Rush Hour” and its sequels and music videos for Madonna and Mariah Carey, he presented his grandparents with a luxury bus so that they could visit him in Beverly Hills.
“He was a medical doctor and he aspired for me to go to college,” Ratner, also an alum of Rabbi Alexander S. Gross Hebrew Academy in Miami Beach, told the Herald in 2014. Granddad wanted Ratner to become a doctor, too. But the soon-to-be mogul had other desires and opted for New York University’s film school.
“He said, ‘If that was your dream.’ His dream was to have my dream come true. That inspired me. That was an incredible gift.”