Eliza Dushku is breaking her silence following last week’s New York Times report that the actress was paid millions by CBS to settle sexual harassment claims from her stint on Bull. In an opinion piece for the Boston Globe, Dushku writes she feels “compelled” to come forward as she “declined to be interviewed for that piece because I wanted to honor the terms of my settlement with the network.”
“The narrative propagated by CBS, actor Michael Weatherly, and writer-producer Glenn Gordon Caron is deceptive and in no way fits with how they treated me on the set of the television show Bull and retaliated against me for simply asking to do my job without relentless sexual harassment,” Dushku begins. “This is not a ‘he-said/she-said’ case. Weatherly’s behavior was captured on CBS’s own videotape recordings.”
Dushku was hired to play Weatherly’s love interest on the show in 2017. She appeared in three episodes with the promise of becoming a series regular the following season, but was abruptly fired after confronting Weatherly about sexually explicit comments he made to her on set.
Weatherly apologized in the Times piece, but he dismissed his earlier comments to Dushku as jokes: “During the course of taping our show, I made some jokes mocking some lines in the script. When Eliza told me that she wasn’t comfortable with my language and attempt at humor, I was mortified to have offended her and immediately apologized. After reflecting on this further, I better understand that what I said was both not funny and not appropriate and I am sorry and regret the pain this caused Eliza.”
Dushku slams how Weatherly, who plays Dr. Bull, rationalized his bad behavior. “I do not want to hear that I have a ‘humor deficit’ or ‘can’t take a joke,” she writes. “I did not over-react. I took a job and, because I did not want to be harassed, I was fired.”
In her piece, Dushku gives a first-hand account of the disparaging comments allegedly made by Weatherly.
Weatherly harassed me from early on. The tapes show his offer to take me to his “rape van, filled with all sorts of lubricants and long phallic things.” There was also his constant name-calling; playing provocative songs (like “Barracuda”) on his iPhone when I approached my set marks; and his remark about having a threesome. He made the threesome remark to me about himself and me in a room full of people. Minutes later, a crew member sidled up next to me and, with a smirk, said in a low voice, “I’m with Bull. I wanna have a threesome with you too.” For weeks, Weatherly was recorded making sexual comments, and was recorded mimicking penis jousting with a male costar, this directly on the heels of the “threesome” proposal, and another time referring to me repeatedly as “legs.” He regularly commented on my “ravishing” beauty, following up with audible groans, oohing and aahing. As the tapes show, he liked to boast about his sperm and vasectomy reversals (“I want you to know, Eliza, I have powerful swimmers”). Weatherly had a habit of exaggerated eye-balling and leering at me; once, he leaned into my body and inhaled, smelling me in a dramatic swoon. As was caught on tape, after I flubbed a line, he shouted in my face, “I will take you over my knee and spank you like a little girl.”
Dushku makes it clear his “conduct was unwelcome and directed at me.” The actress recalls confronting Weatherly after weeks of enduring his harassment.
“I aimed to be my diplomatic best,” she says of their meeting, which took place in his trailer. “This was not easy for me, since there were plenty of other things I would like to have said to him. Framing my request as a plea for ‘help’ in setting a different tone on the set, I asked him to ‘be my ally’ and to ‘help ease the sexualized set comments.’”
She was written off the show almost immediately after their talk. Dushku continued to film what would unknowingly be her final episodes, but she says Weatherly retaliated against her on set.
“Following our conversation and up until the season wrapped weeks later, he barely spoke to me, making it clear he was icing me out,” she remembers. “He made every remaining day on the set somehow more awkward and oppressive.
“What is hardest to share is the way he made me feel for 10 to 12 hours per day for weeks,” she notes. “This was classic workplace harassment that became workplace bullying. I was made to feel dread nearly all the time I was in his presence. And this dread continues to come up whenever I think of him and that experience.”
Dushku continues, “Weatherly sexually harassed and bullied me day-in and day-out and would have gotten away with it had he not been caught on tape, and had the CBS lawyers not inadvertently shared the tapes with my [lawyer.]”
CBS ultimately paid Dushku $9.5 million to settle, about the equivalent of what she would have earned if she had stayed on as a cast member for four seasons.
“A significant settlement condition was my requirement that CBS designate an individual trained in sexual harassment compliance to monitor Weatherly and the show in general,” Dushku reveals. “Another condition I insisted on was that I be allowed to meet with Steven Spielberg, whose Amblin Television coproduces Bull, so I could talk with him about what occurred on his set.”
The meeting with Spielberg has yet to happen.
On her end, Dushku agreed to “not speak about what happened.” But, after seeing CBS and Weatherly make statements last week, the actress wasn’t afraid to come forward.
“In the end, I found uneasy solace in the important conditions I imposed on CBS, and that I would get paid for at least some of my contract. I am still trying to make sense of how this could happen, especially in these times. The last thing I want at this point in my life is to be in the news,” she concludes. “I am recently married and very happily finishing my college degree at home in Boston. But I do feel it is my duty to respond honestly and thoroughly to CBS, Michael Weatherly, and Glenn Gordon Caron’s latest revisionist accounts.”
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