Bright screenwriter Max Landis has been accused of emotional, physical and sexual abuse by eight women. The accusations detail over a decade of Landis' abusive behavior towards women.
In a lengthy report from The Daily Beast, several women who dated or encountered Landis shared their experiences with him, revealing a pattern of abuse with little or no remorse. Selections from their stories appear below. The accounts contain sensitive material that may not be suitable for all readers.
According to Julie, whose name was changed for the story, "[Landis would] bring up his hand and fake that he was going to hit me, and laugh when I flinched. He'd constantly threaten to break up with me, speak about his 'prospects' to me and openly flirt in front of me. On multiple occasions he'd refer to me as his ex-girlfriend in front of girls at parties we'd go to together as a couple. 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."
"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," she said. "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."
Another ex-girlfriend, called Kerry in the report, recalled how Landis "picked on me constantly. He'd say 'you don't do hot girl well' or 'you should do whatever she does to work out' while pointing at some other woman's body. He'd compliment me for not eating. He bought me workout classes to shape me the way he wanted. I lost 15 pounds I couldn't afford to lose while we were together, and even though he'd bring up openly that he'd given an ex-girlfriend an eating disorder I somehow didn't identify what was happening to me as that."
Dani Manning shared a similar experience. "The emotional abuse took control of me to the point where I got down to 115 lbs. at 5’10 -- still not skinny enough. He'd smack food out of my hand in front of his family to stop me from eating it," she said. "He told me that if I worked out more I'd be supermodel pretty. Except I was not pretty. And I would be told why, in detail. Which body parts and facial features. I'd get insulted if the outfit I wore didn't look sexy enough or made my body look bad."
"The first incident that I can remember, we were at some public event and I think I laughed at something and he just started choking me to the point where my eyes were blacking out," she added. "I felt such confusion that I tried to leave and I was drunk and I had to just kind of wait while he tried to convince me that he didn’t mean it."
Landis took another woman to Disneyland, where he assaulted her in the park and then their hotel room. "He tried to put his hand down my pants and up my shirt while we were waiting in line for rides, surrounded by children and families. People began to notice as I was trying to dodge his hands. I was absolutely humiliated," recalled Veronica, whose name was also changed for the report. "I told him to stop and he didn't. Halfway through the day, it escalated into him loudly shouting at me that he 'wanted to fuck' so we had to go back to the room."
Eventually, Veronica returned to the hotel room with him, "thinking I had to get Max out of there or he would get us kicked out by molesting me openly and screaming about sex." When they arrived at their room, they engaged in sex she described as "rough and violent, but over relatively quickly."
Sometime later, "I told him I was really uncomfortable with this situation and didn't want to again. He became enraged, and began screaming at me and throwing things in the hotel room around. I shrank into a corner on the far end of the hotel room to put some space between us and then he loudly complained that I wasn't being a good date."
Ani Baker also recounted a violent episode from her relationship with Landis: "We finished having sex and we were standing naked in this kitchen and I slapped his butt, and he said, don't slap my butt. And I said, no, I'm going to, in a way that I thought was playful, and he snapped, is the only way I can describe it. He turned around and he put his hands around my throat and he got very close to my face and he said, 'I will fucking kill you. Do you understand what I'm saying? I will fucking kill you.'"
In September 2008, Landis was brought to a Miami circuit court over a similar incident. Ashley Heffington Dionne, a witness to the incident, shared her account: "I was asleep and awoke to what sounded like a person falling, and then I heard what sounded like another person picking up someone and setting them down. I then heard more sounds of motion, then I heard Callie [Ray]'s voice ask in a confused and quiet voice, '[her then-boyfriend’s nickname]' and then repeat the name she called her boyfriend, still sounding confused and delirious. I then heard a male voice confirming he was [boyfriend's name]. Knowing her boyfriend was out of town at the time, I jumped out of my bed and walked into our shared living room to see Max over Callie on our couch. He was on top of her and her pants were off and he was thrusting and I could hear the sound of what he was doing. I yelled, 'You need to leave right now!' He got up, quickly pulling his pants up, and I physically rushed him, aggressively demanding he leave."
At the courthouse, Landis' attorney approached Ray, her mother and Dionne in the waiting area. "The attorney said she was going to make a fool of Callie, talking about how much she drinks and talking about the nature of her relationship to Max," Dionne explained. "She then asked again if this is how Callie wanted to handle 'this issue.' I could feel that Callie was overwhelmed. Callie sat there, tears running down her face, holding hands with her mother and with me. Callie said she did not want to go through with 'this process.'"
Set costumer Tasha Goldthwait and actor Masha Mendieta also detailed his unprofessional, sexual behavior in the workplace.
As to how Landis has gotten away with behavior like this, Julie said, "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. 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."
"One thing I really want to help other people understand, in whatever way I can, is that you can't see it when you're in it,” Baker added. "It can be the clearest thing to everyone else, to the friends that you're crying to about the abuse, but you can't see it."
They hope that, by sharing their experiences, they can protect other women. "Protection of other women is my primary motivation," Kerry said. "Enough is enough."