Tales from the Casting Couch: Hollywood's Ugly Open Secret

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The Oscars, the Walk of Fame and the Hollywood sign are some of Tinseltown's famed icons. But as with most fairy tales, there is also a hardcore underbelly.

Now Gwyneth Paltrow has spoken out about one of the industry's dirtiest secrets – the casting couch.

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In the November issue of Elle Magazine, 38-year-old Paltrow revealed that early in her career she had a brush with someone who "suggested that we finish a meeting in the bedroom."

Her reaction?

"I left," she told Elle. "I was pretty shocked." Paltrow said she could see how someone who didn't know better might worry that their career would be ruined if they didn't perform a specific sexual act.

In an interview with People nearly five years ago, Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron disclosed that before she launched her acting career, she was asked by her modeling agents to go to a well-known director's house. The ostensible reason was because there was a casting call for extras. When she showed up, the director was in his pajamas, making drinks.

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Charlize Theron

"I thought, 'Wow, this is really not formal, this whole casting procedure,'" Theron said in People. "Us girls, we're smart: You leave."

Helen Mirren

Helen Mirren also went on the record recently, reported The Guardian, speaking out against director Michael Winner for "allegedly treating her 'like a piece of meat.'" The incident occurred in 1964 when Winner made her flaunt her body and turn around at a casting session. "I was mortified and incredibly angry," said Mirren.


Lisa Rinna, whose new reality show "Harry Loves Lisa," co-starring her husband, Harry Hamlin, debuted last week on TV Land, told PopEater's "Naughty But Nice" column that she, too, was a victim of the casting couch. Columnist Rob Shuter wrote that the then-24-year-old actress "walked away in tears after the disgusting encounter, but that hasn't stopped her from thinking about the producer or that moment every day."

Lisa Rinna

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Although these incidents happened years ago, the passage of time hasn't necessarily eliminated the scourge.

Last year Megan Fox told Britain's GQ magazine, "Any casting couch s**t I've experienced has been since I've become famous. It's really heartbreaking. Some of these people! Like Hollywood legends. You think you're going to meet them and you're so excited, like, 'I can't believe this person wants to have a conversation with me,' and you get there and you realize that's not what they want at all."

Megan Fox

Casting Couch: Hollywood's Secret

Late last month, Myleene Klass, a British singer, celebrity interviewer and model for the British chain Marks and Spencer, told Now magazine that'd she'd been made an offer, over lunch, several months earlier: "A newly married Hollywood star asked me to sign some kind of sex contract with him," Klass told the publication. "I just thought, 'Mate, which planet are you from?'

"Then his P.A. came over with a confidentiality contract," Klass said. "I just thought, 'Oh my God, your poor wife.' I don't want to be a marriage-wrecker." The story also reveals that, in July, Klass has been offered "more than the interview" by three stars.

Although casting-couch scenarios may occur at any stage of an actress's career, it's typically the newbies and wannabes who tend to get the greater share of the propositions.

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