PASADENA, Calif. — “Eliza is very brave for speaking up,” director James Cameron said Saturday in response to Eliza Dushku’s Facebook post alleging a sexual assault by Joel Kramer, a stunt coordinator on Cameron’s 1994 film True Lies, when the actress was 12.
Cameron told reporters at the Television Critics Association’s winter meetings, where he was promoting a project for AMC, that he’d only learned about Dushku’s post a few hours earlier.
“It’s just heartbreaking that it happened to her. I mean, I know the party. Not well — he hasn’t worked for me since then. The fact [is] that this happened under our noses, and we didn’t know about it,” he said.
“Directors are historically oblivious to the interpersonal things that are happening on their set,” Cameron said. “Had I known about it, there would have been no mercy.”
The director, who was at TCA to talk about documentary series AMC Visionaries: James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction, then called for an “avenue” for people who experience sexual harassment or abuse to be able to speak up and be heard, noting that the issue wasn’t limited to the entertainment industry.
“I don’t think this is [just] a Hollywood problem. I think Hollywood is in a unique position of actually shining a spotlight on it,” he said.
Dushku (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse) played the daughter of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis’ characters in True Lies. She described being lured to a Miami hotel room by Kramer and then molested. She also said that not long after an adult friend of hers confronted him about it, the young actress was injured on the set of the film, sustaining broken ribs.
“To be clear, over the course of those months rehearsing and filming True Lies, it was Joel Kramer who was responsible for my safety on a film that at the time broke new ground for action films. On a daily basis he rigged wires and harnesses on my 12-year-old body. My life was literally in his hands: he hung me in the open air, from a tower crane, atop an office tower, 25+ stories high. Whereas he was supposed to be my protector, he was my abuser,” she wrote.