Bright screenwriter Max Landis accused of emotional and sexual abuse by eight women

Nick Romano
Max Landis accused of emotional and sexual abuse by eight women

This week, eight women came forward in a new report to describe allegations of emotional and sexual abuse against Max Landis, the screenwriter son of director John Landis who penned films like Bright and Chronicle.

As reported by The Daily Beast in an article published Tuesday, the allegations ranged from body-shaming and vulgar language to rape.

A rep for Landis did not respond to EW’s request for comment, nor to The Daily Beast’s inquiries.

“He trusted that we wouldn’t ever say anything, worked actively to discredit people who were saying things, and was just as consistent in the abuse as he was with covering it up and manipulating us afterwards,” an ex-girlfriend and former friend of Landis’, referred to in the article by the fictional name Julie, wrote to The Daily Beast. “I didn’t realize that I had been raped consistently and deliberately by this man for two years until today, when I wrote it down.”

In describing the alleged emotional abuse, Julie referred to “multiple occasions” where Landis would “refer to me as his ex-girlfriend in front of girls at parties we’d go to together as a couple.” She continued, “He’d openly critique my body in front of people and tell me privately that I had the potential to be ‘so hot’ if I committed to working out more. He’d graphically describe sex with his ex-girlfriends and rate their abilities compared to mine, both to me and to his friends and work associates.” According to Julie, this escalated to showing her “abuse and humiliation porn” and, eventually, sexual assault.

In one of the more disturbing allegations, she wrote, “He claimed that seeing me cry was a turn-on — this later turned into a routine of him yelling and humiliating me until I cried, then having sex with me while I continued to cry with no regard or effort to make things right. He’d instigate fights, belittle and upset me, just so he could have sex with me, and the real, legitimate fights ended the same way. He choked me until I passed out and did humiliating, degrading things to me that I still can’t manage to write out on paper.”

She added, “And if any of this still feels like a blurred lines scenario let me assure you that he did hold me down and rape me while I said ‘no’ over and over. Afterwards I punched him in the shoulder and I told him, ‘When someone says no, you’re supposed to stop. What you just did is what they call rape.’ He said he thought we were playing a game, and that I liked it. He didn’t care.”

Other women reportedly described similar behavior, including an alleged predatory practice of pursuing women through his friend group, keeping a ranked list of the women he slept with and showing it to some of his girlfriends, and emotional abuse that led to eating disorders and warped body image.

“Once he choked me and told me he wanted to kill me,” another woman, referred to in the article as Kerry, alleged. Another woman, ex-girlfriend Dani Manning, claimed Landis would “smack food out of my hand in front of his family to stop me from eating it” and, on two other separate occasions, “choked” her and threw a “plate of food” at her when she laughed at him. Manning also stated, “There was no option of not having sex if Max wanted to and you did not.”

Another woman, Ashley Heffington Dionne, describes coming out of her room and witnessing Landis sexually assaulting her friend, Callie Ray, who she described as “in and out of consciousness” at the time. Ray is listed in court documents for what The Daily Beast reports to be a September 2008 Miami circuit court case on domestic violence that was eventually dropped.

In 2017, an anonymous woman wrote an account on Medium that detailed an alleged instance of sexual assault by Landis. Multiple women refer to this account and allege similar behavior.

One woman, referred to by the outlet as Veronica, stated that, during an overnight trip to Disneyland, she and Landis entered the hotel room and he immediately proceeded to “physically overpower” her. “He pinned me to one of the beds, face-down, and began touching my crotch through my leggings,” she said. “I was shocked. When he saw he had scared me he laughed and said, ‘That made you uncomfortable, didn’t it?’ That’s when it began to sink in for me that I was physically trapped there with him for the next 24 hours.”

Later on the trip, she said they had sex that was “rough and violent, but over relatively quickly.” When she denied further intimacy, he allegedly started “screaming” and “throwing things in the hotel room around”  She then stated she “awoke to him performing oral sex” on her.

Others still, including set costumer Tasha Goldthwait (for Landis’ feature debut Me Him Her) and actress Masha Mendieta (on a student film Landis seemingly produced), describe instances of sexual misconduct in the workplace. This behavior, Mendieta claimed, included Landis making unsettling remarks as she was topless for a scene. Goldthwait told The Daily Beast that Landis “would talk about his penis all the time to me” and, in separate instances, “would pick me up and turn me upside down and carry me around set.”

“At one point,” she continued, “we were on set with people around and he pushed me down and got on top of me on a bed.”

Upcoming projects for Landis include Deeper with Idris Elba and the remake of An American Werewolf in London.

The full report can be found on The Daily Beast.