Geena Davis: A director once had me sit on his lap for an audition

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I love that Geena Davis is back in the news right now. She’s promoting her documentary, This Changes Everything about the lack of gender equality in Hollywood. Geena did a Q&A with USA Today about the documentary, and about her other work, including her new role on GLOW on Netflix. She also told a disturbing story about a director who asked her to sit on his lap as part of an audition. Awful. Here are some excerpts from her chat:

On if the mostly female cast and creative team on Glow create a different atmosphere
It does. The more diverse a group is, the more creative, successful and productive it is. They’ve done research that companies with more women on the board make more money. It doesn’t seem to spur people to make dramatic change even though there’s a financial incentive, but it certainly is true. And there’s definitely a different vibe when it’s mostly women. I always say men don’t know what we’re like when we’re alone. It’s really, really true. We have a special way of relating with each other, and that’s very inspiring.

On if she wishes should could have played other characters in her films
When I first read “Thelma & Louise,” I thought I should play Louise. I was convinced of that. My acting coach said, “You’re getting to a place in your career where you should be the more mature character,” but we were wrong. The second I met Susan Sarandon, I was like, “Well, obviously, she should play Louise and I should be Thelma,” because our relationship was just like that instantly. I looked up to her and admired her tremendously, and she’s the cool, steady hand. So that was one instance where I was also attracted to the other part.

On if she experienced disturbing experiences as a young actress
There’s probably a million examples. One was very early on: I was auditioning for a part where in one scene, my character was going to be sitting on the lap of the male character. The director said, “Just act the scene out with me,” and made me sit on his lap. It was kind of a sexy scene. I didn’t want to do it, and I was very uncomfortable, but I didn’t know you could say no. So hopefully in the time of #MeToo and Time’s Up, women aren’t going to have to suffer through that. It’s pretty standard that you don’t meet alone with a man in a private room or hotel suite anymore, but plenty of that stuff goes on and has gone on for a long time.

[From USA Today]

As Geena noted, harassment, assault, and other intimidating behavior has gone on in Hollywood for decades, and is still going on. Her story is awful, and Chloe Grace Moretz has a story in the documentary which USA Today recounts which is awful, too. It’s overwhelming to think about the fact that for every story we hear, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of untold ones that are equally atrocious. The next time I watch one of Geena’s earlier films, I’m going to be paying attention to see whether she sits on an actor’s lap. I can only hope that that director (and the one in Chloe’s story) hear these stories and get anxious that they eventually might be unmasked.

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12 Responses to “Geena Davis: A director once had me sit on his lap for an audition”

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  1. BengalCat😻 says:

    Marc Maron just had her on his podcast and she was so funny and cool, Love her!

    • Sue Denim says:

      Yes, def worth a listen. She’s so smart and thoughtful and he does a v conscientious job asking good questions. So much respect for her…

  2. Lucy2 says:

    I’ve been binge watching the new season of GLOW, it was nice to see her in it.
    You can really tell with that show that it is written and produced by mostly women. The characters in their stories just have so much more depth to them.

    • Jenns says:

      I just binge through the season as well. I love that show so much. And it was great to see Geena in it. She looked amazing in her showgirl outfit.

    • LaUnicaAngelina says:

      We just binged GLOW Season 3 and it was another great season! I’m sorry it was over so fast.

  3. Lightpurple says:

    Glad to hear she is in GLOW. That show is fantastic.

  4. boredblond says:

    I’ve been a fan of Davis for bad she doesn’t say if she got that part (or if was for tv)–we could’ve probably figured out who it was.

  5. juju says:

    I love Geena Davis and all the work she has been doing on research and statistics related to gender representation in the media. She’s my hero!

    Also, my own similar audition story… going back many years ago in Chicago while auditioning for an independent film. I was invited to a callback where I was asked to wear a bikini. It made sense related to the show/role but there were red flags in the process so I decided to not return. A friend of mine also received a call back and said that he director had invited some of his friends to the call back. They brought a case of beer and sat on the couch watching the actresses in their bikinis. It made me sick when I heard it.

  6. Keira says:

    Great interview on Fresh Air with Terry Gross with Geena and the director of This Changes Everything.

  7. h3Rh1GHN3SS says:

    Loved her & Susan S since Thelma & Louise, can we get a remake!?1?