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Frances McDormand and Joel Coen on Scott Rudin’s Alleged Abuse: ‘I Never Witnessed Any of It’

"Whoever is saying we did see it is not being honest," Joel Coen told Deadline ahead of the New York Film Festival premiere of "Tragedy of Macbeth."

US actress Frances McDormand (R) and her husband US director Joel Coen pose during a photocall before meeting the audience at the Xth Rome Film Festival, on October 16, 2015 in Rome. Photo by Eric Vandeville / Sipa USA

Joel Coen and Frances McDormand

Vandeville Eric/Sipa USA

Ahead of the New York Film Festival world premiere of “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” director Joel Coen and star Frances McDormand are refuting claims that they knew about alleged abuses by Broadway and film producer Scott Rudin. Coen and McDormand sat down for a sprawling interview with Deadline about their new film, of which Rudin was originally a producer.

“I think there isn’t anyone who works in the business who hasn’t heard those stories over the last however many decades that Scott has been working. Yeah. I hear stories about all kinds of people, I myself have witnessed all kinds of behavior. I never witnessed any of it with Scott, absolutely never,” Joel Coen said.

A claim that Coen and McDormand witnessed Scott Rudin’s alleged abuse surfaced in a June 2021 exposé in The Hollywood Reporter. A former assistant of Scott Rudin’s, Eric Emauni, told the outlet: “There have been times when he’s laid into someone while a celebrity was in the room… He invited Frances McDormand and Joel Coen into the office for a meeting.” In the middle of the visit, Emauni said, Rudin left his office and went to the assistant bullpen and “laid into [a female] assistant while they were there. They sat there, [then] they continued their meeting. Right after that, she quit.”

Coen continued in the Deadline interview: “But on the other hand, I heard the stories and to a certain extent, I didn’t doubt the stories. I knew there was… you hear a lot of it and you figure a lot of it is probably true. But like I say, I hear stories about lots of people and I’ve seen questionable behavior from lots of people, but I never, ever saw anything like that from Scott. I don’t condone it, of course, but I never saw it.”

Coen said, “From my point of view, whoever is saying we did see it is not being honest. So, that makes me skeptical of anything else that particular person might be saying.”

McDormand said, “I think the most important thing that Joel has said is that we have worked with Scott for many years, we have not witnessed his disrespectful bully behavior to his employees, and what Joel has just said, anyone that questions our reputation should speak to us about that. Because I think anybody in that industry would not question our reputation when it comes… we do not handle ourselves that way professionally or personally. So, I think that’s enough.”

Following abuse allegations that emerged in spring 2021, Rudin vowed to step back from his film and Broadway producing duties.

Representatives for McDormand declined to comment further, while representatives for Coen have not yet replied to IndieWire’s request for comment.

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