It’s here. We’ve been waiting for it. We thought the piece had been killed but it’s now available to read, albeit at The Atlantic instead of Esquire. Alex French and Maximillian Potter spent over a year reporting on what we have known for close to two decades. Director Bryan Singer has faced multiple accusations of sexual assault, often against underage boys, as well as lawsuits pertaining to improper actions, and a career-long stretch of on-set unprofessional behaviour. Until now, he has been shielded by the industry, a team of very powerful lawyers, and systemic homophobia that has left many victims too ashamed to speak out.
It doesn’t feel right to just paraphrase what the piece says. It almost feels too glib to just sum up the mountain of allegations present in this piece, as well as statements from the alleged victims themselves. The thing is that we knew about a lot of these stories already, but that does not take away from the absolute punch-in-the-gut experience that is reading them all compiled in this exhaustive article. That the piece comes out one day after Bohemian Rhapsody, the Queen biopic from which Singer was fired, landed a Best Picture Oscar nomination only exemplifies how willing so many in the industry were to turn their backs to this. The piece goes into extensive detail about alleged sexual abuse against underage boys, so please approach with caution.
Several sources, many of whom choose to remain anonymous, detail being groomed by Singer from a young age. Victor Valdovinos, who worked as an extra on the set of Singer’s film Apt Pupil, alleges being molested by Singer at the age of 13. This was the production that faced a series of lawsuits pertaining to a nude scene involving minors.
Singer’s Hollywood start-up, Digital Entertainment Network, which faced numerous lawsuits during its time, is described as a place where the company’s mansion ‘became a party house where teenage boys were allegedly given alcohol and drugs, encouraged to have sex with older men, and in some cases raped.’ One executive asked ‘why so many teenage boys were on the payroll.’ An employee recalls attending one of the company’s parties and trying to go inside by being ‘stopped by a bodyguard, who said: “Kids only.” The employee asked a colleague what was going on. “[He] said that he had seen some of it, and that it was definitely porn … [The kids] were all laughing and eating candy.’
One source, known as Andy, details an alleged incident when he was 15 and Singer was 31 (a fact Singer was allegedly aware of), and they ‘fooled around’ while Apt Pupil star Brad Renfro ‘sat sheepishly next to the waterbed, looking unsure of what to do’. Renfro died of a drug overdose in 2008, at the age of 25. Many of Singer’s alleged victims describe the atmosphere of drug use that permeated his lifestyle.
Singer’s unprofessional behaviour as a director is also discussed, including claims that he was ‘heavily medicated’ on the production of Superman Returns and failing to show up on set so frequently that ‘an executive producer camped out at the Australian location to ensure that Singer completed the film.’
The production of Bohemian Rhapsody is also detailed. Singer, according to sources, was the director choice of the surviving band members of Queen, and that ‘the choice for Fox was to do the film with him or to not do it at all. According to the three sources, it wasn’t an easy decision.’ Singer feuded with star Rami Malek and ‘Singer threw tantrums, at one point ripping a video monitor off a rig and slamming it on the ground. Tom Hollander, who plays Queen’s manager, reportedly found Singer’s behavior so abhorrent that he briefly quit the movie.’ Singer then did not leave his hotel suite for four days. After asking production to be delayed for a month, Singer was fired. This is worth noting because last week, Bohemian Rhapsody producer Graham King claimed that Singer’s own reason for his departure - that his mother was sick — was true. We now know that to be false.
Rami Malek has also since claimed that he had no idea about the allegations against Singer. Make of that what you will.
Singer is described as a world-class manipulator constantly on the verge of a temper tantrum, one whose personality changes wildly with drugs and alcohol and whose behaviour, including a party where Singer grabbed a man’s ‘much younger boyfriend by the hair and dragged him down a hallway’ are simply ‘regarded […] as just another Bryan Singer moment.’
There’s so much more in the piece that I won’t go into here. It truly needs to be read in its entirety. But as we said earlier, none of this should be news to any of us. The magnitude of it is certainly shocking, as is the decades-long pattern of behaviour and systemic abuse that was all but public news to an industry that continued to placate the man at the heart of it. And make no mistake: What Bryan Singer is accused of here is rape. Not ‘sex with underage boys’ as The Hollywood Reporter characterized it, but rape. Statutory rape and non-consensual sex alike are rape. We are not going to get into the ‘well actually’ of this all that some people are dying to dissect because we will not further empower Singer to exonerate himself in the face of these fresh allegations.
Cesar Sanchez-Guzman, who filed suit against Singer in December 2017 alleging that Singer raped him when he was 17, details the ways in which Singer’s legal team used the system against him to mount a smear campaign. He says ‘Singer told him to keep his mouth shut: “Nobody is going to believe you.”’
We believe you.
Header Image Source: Gage Skidmore @ Wikimedia Commons