Benny Safdie says that firing former collaborator Sebastian Bear-McClard following “disgusting” misconduct allegations against the Uncut Gems The producer was about taking control and helped him learn that you “have to be much more careful.”
While promoting his role in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimerthe Elara Pictures co-founder and writer-director addressed the multiple allegations made against Bear-McClard by those who worked on Uncut Gems and Good time in an interview with GQ magazine. The interview marks one of the first public comments by the filmmaker following a brief, previous statement from him and brother Josh Safdie clarifying that they had terminated Bear-McClard from his role with the studio.
That decision came after multiple women — including a 24-year-old whom the producer hired on Good time in 2016 and began a sexual relationship with while she was 17 — disclosed that he reached out to them through platforms like Instagram, and began engaging in inappropriate and harassing behavior, according to Variety.
“It’s disgusting, and when you find out something about somebody that you didn’t realize, you just have to be much more careful,” Benny said about the controversy, which saw Bear-McClard fired from the studio he co-founded with the Safdie brothers. “It’s a lot, and it’s not something that you want to have happen to anybody. And when you find it out, the one thing that you can do is really just take control.”
Benny also opened up about why he and brother Josh have gone separate ways on projects since their success with Uncut Gems. Last year, Adam Sandler was set to reunite with the brother filmmakers for a new movie, set in the world of sports memorabilia collectors, but news later broke that Benny would not be co-directing.
“Elara is still there. We work on a lot of documentaries and there’s just a constant flow of ideas,” he explained. “It just felt like, OK, there’s things that I want to explore that don’t necessarily align right now with Josh. So it’s a divide-and-conquer mentality. He wants to tell this story, he can go and do that. I’m going to go and do a couple of other things. It seems like a natural progression for how things have happened.”
One of those other projects he’s working on is The Curse. What was once a 30-minute comedy, the now-hourlong comedy-drama stars Nathan Fielder and Emma Stone as a couple alongside Benny, who portrays an HGTV producer.
“They live in an area called Española, which is close to Santa Fe. And that’s where they’re building their new homes. They have a very different way of gentrifying the community. They want to do it ethically, and they want to do it in a way that doesn’t hurt anybody. So they want to make a show about that. And you follow their lives as they’re doing it,” Benny said.
It was this show and a few onscreen roles that had occupied the filmmaker’s attention for a while, resulting in his brother and longtime collaborator Ronald Bronstein getting deep into their new Sandler project. So taking a step back from it made sense. “It was just a matter of, ‘This works for me right now and this is what I’ve got to do,'” he said.
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