Michael Douglas has taken the preemptive step of denying sexual harassment claims before the allegations have gone public. In an interview with Deadline, the 73-year-old emphatically denied a former employee's claims that he was sexually inappropriate in front of her 32 years ago. It comes after he was contacted by different publications with regards to the claims, in addition to allegations he also used colourful and suggestive language in front of her, and blackballed her from the industry after he fired her. "This is a complete lie, fabrication, no truth to it whatsoever," Michael said of the allegation of sexual misconduct, adding that his head was "reeling".
Michael Douglas pictured with his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones
With regards to the other claims, he apologised for his language, but confirmed "none of it was directed at her". He explained: "She may have overheard private conversations, and it she was offended, she could have excused herself. As far as blackballing her, that was completely untrue. She was a lady who was involved in development at my company, and we just didn't have a good development record in the time she was there, so I just moved on," he said. "If people from the industry called me to ask about her, I would have been honest, but I never blackballed her."
Michael, who shares two children with wife Catherine Zeta-Jones, described the allegations as "extremely painful". "I pride myself on my reputation in this business, not to mention the long history of my father and everything else," he said. "I don't have skeletons in my closet, or anyone else who's coming out or saying this."
The couple share two children, Dylan, 17, and Carys, 14
He continued: "I tried to figure out, why the hell would somebody do this? The part that hurt the most is having to share something like this with your wife and your children. My kids are really upset, [they had to] go to school worrying this is going to be in some article about me, being a sexual harasser. They're scared and very uncomfortable."
Of his decision to pre-emptively address the claims, Michael explained: "I felt the need to get ahead of this. It pertains to me but I'm also getting a sense of how it reflects in our culture, and what is going on today. I see it as a cautionary tale. I had the choice of waiting for a story to come out, one that will clearly get picked up by other newspapers and magazine, and then I have to sit there and try and defend myself. Or, try to share with the public, a little ahead of the story, my thoughts and concerns. Again, I am sorry if I used course language with my friends. But this is really debilitating. It can have a large effect on my career. And also, I think it really sends a message out."