Following an exposé on film and theater producer Scott Rudin earlier this month, former assistants have come forward to detail how he fostered an abusive workplace. The 62-year-old Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award winning producer has cultivated a reputation for physical and mental abuse in Hollywood for decades, and the recent Hollywood Reporter piece illustrated just how badly he treated his employees.
Now Vulture has spoken with 33 people who formerly worked as assistants or interns at Scott Rudin Productions from 1994 to 2020, corroborating instances of physical violence and other deplorable behavior.
“Rudin lives to break people,” said one intern and phone assistant, who worked for the company from 2015 to 2016. Many people detailed grueling schedules that saw teams as small as 10 workers taking on loads more suited to at least 30 people, working as much as 14- and 16-hour days. “Even if you aren’t working in the office, you are probably still doing a lot of work from home to catch up on the sheer volume of what was expected of you,” one assistant said.
“There’s a girl who worked for him, and she passed out in the conference room in front of him,” said a documents assistant who worked there in 2017. “I think from pure exhaustion. He stepped over her, turned to an assistant, and said, ‘I’m going to go out, and I want her gone by the time I get back here.’”
Five assistants employed from 2001 to 2007 detailed eight “lessons” they learned the first week of being at the company, including warnings not to look Rudin in the eye or even talk to him. “You’re not allowed to take the subway because you can’t lose cell reception at any point while you’re working for him. I would have to take these hourlong Ubers [paid for by the company].”
Rudin also been known to engage in intimidation tactics with clients and employees. They would also be subjected to torrents of insults, which ranged from being called “retarded” or a “fucking idiot” to him asking, “What is the point of you?”
Throughout the years he gained a reputation for making one-word commands, such as yelling “Snapple” and expecting a drink in his hands within seconds. But some of his most dangerous behavior was physical.
“He said or did something wrong, and Scott got pissed,” said a former development intern and documents assistant, who explained what happened when a fellow employee made a small mistake. “He was like, ‘Fuck you. You’re useless. Get out.’ But he didn’t get out. All of a sudden, we hear this huge crash. … We heard this blood-curdling scream. Someone yelled, ‘You’re so fucking crazy. You’re insane, man.’ And then Scott goes off, screaming. He had taken his empty glass bowl of cashews—that he always had to have—and threw it.”
The threat of violence at the hands of Scott Rudin was a real concern for a slew of former employees. Kevin Graham-Caso worked as an executive assistant for Rudin in 2008-09, and started seeing a therapist for PTSD afterward. Last year, he died of suicide, and his brother David believes Rudin could be responsible.
“They’d be in communication about work, going from one location to the other, and then a little thing would piss Scott off and he’d be like, ‘Get out,’” said friend Klodiana Alia. “But that time was memorable because Kevin said the car was still moving when he was thrown out. Kevin was humiliated and hurt. It was devastating.”
It was such an open secret how abusive and difficult Rudin was to work for that Chris Rock even joked about it during a visit to the office one day, said a former junior creative executive. “On the first day I started as an intern, Chris Rock had come out of a story meeting on what was going to be Top Five,” they said. “He walked past the front bullpen of the office and joked, ‘It’s okay. You can relax. I know he beats the shit out of you all day.’”
The longstanding impact of Rudin’s behavior was additionally detailed, with many saying they routinely had panic attacks, experienced diarrhea due to intense stress, went through rapid weight loss or weight gain, and lost hair working for him. “I had a bad kidney infection because I could not pee,” said a former intern. “I have stress-induced bladder spasms. Now I get to go to a physical therapist and learn how to control it.”
On the film side alone, Rudin has produced or executive produced nearly 150 projects including The Social Network, Uncut Gems, Lady Bird, No Country for Old Men, The Truman Show, Zoolander, Sister Act, South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut, There Will Be Blood, and The Royal Tenenbaums.
Read Vulture’s full feature on Rudin here.