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Rachel Zegler says it's 'wildly disappointing' to have to answer for Ansel Elgort's alleged sexual assault

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Rachel Zegler is tired of having to answer for her West Side Story costar Ansel Elgort.

In an interview with ELLE published Tuesday, Zegler looked back on how the press tour for the 2021 romance musical had been overtaken by questions about sexual assault allegations against Elgort. Why was Zegler and her female costars Rita Moreno and Ariana DeBose on the receiving end of such questions "even though the person in question was present," her interviewer observed?

Zegler would also like an answer to that, noting it was a "real gut punch" to have to answer for the actions of "an adult male who can speak for himself."

Rachel Zegler
Rachel Zegler

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images Rachel Zegler says it's 'wildly disappointing' to have to answer for Ansel Elgort's alleged sexual assault

"I reverted back to this brain space I was in [back in] June of 2020, when the accusation surfaced," Zegler said. "We were in the middle of the first wave of lockdown, and there was nothing to do but doomscroll. Those days were some of the worst mental health days I've ever had. I was sitting there having just turned 19, on the precipice of what was promised to be the biggest moment in my life, and was being held accountable [by the public] for accusations that not only had nothing to do with me but were made about a situation that was said to have occurred [five] years prior to when I had met and worked with this person."

Elgort, who starred as the Tony to Zegler's Maria, was accused in June 2020 of sexually assaulting a girl in 2014, when she was reportedly 17 years old and he was 20. The actor denied the allegations, maintaining he has "never and would never assault anyone" and claiming he had a "brief, legal, and entirely consensual relationship" with his accuser at that time. Zegler called it "wildly disappointing at every turn" to have to speak on her costar's alleged actions.

"[There is] inherent discomfort that comes with that realization that there are tons of people who think that you have to answer for the actions of an adult male who can speak for himself," Zegler said. "It is so wildly disappointing at every turn, no matter how you slice it. No matter how many times I've tried to justify people's concern when it comes to me in my brain, but then realizing that it comes from a place of me having to answer for that, and not them actually caring about whether or not I was okay, was really hurtful."

WEST SIDE STORY
WEST SIDE STORY

Niko Tavernise/20th Century Studios Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler in 'West Side Story'

She continued, referencing Moreno's own experiences, "And also paying no mind when it came to the conversation between myself and these other incredible women in my cast, without any thought process to our experiences as women in the industry who constantly find ourselves in close encounters with men in power, and a very iconic woman in Hollywood who has spoken about her experience with sexual assault."

"In the grand scheme of things with this woman who has come forward with these allegations, I cannot imagine what she had to go through," Zegler said. "If I'm sitting here thinking that those days were traumatizing for me, I don't pretend to know. I could never know. I really don't have anything to do with this conversation, and I'm looking forward to moving past it."

In January, Zegler briefly addressed the allegations for the first time in a Hollywood Reporter cover story alongside her female costars: "We made a movie two and a half years ago, and a lot has gone on in the world since then," she said. "A lot has changed very publicly, and privately as well. There's been a lot of awakening. You just hope that the people involved are okay, that they are asked in a respectful manner, and that they are given the opportunity to answer for themselves."

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