In early 2016, the producer Sebastian Bear McClard contacted a 17-year-old girl on Instagram – an openness that led to a casual meeting in a Soho loft. Shortly after, he let the Safdie brothers know that he had found the perfect person to play a small role in their next film, “Good time.” The young girl, who came from a disadvantaged background in New York, was delighted to meet the film’s star, Robert Pattinson, then a favorite of teenage girls around the world thanks to the “Twilight” franchise. On the day of filming, she waited all day on the New York set for her scene to be called, not knowing what that entailed. By the time she walked into a cramped room, she was naked, standing in front of nearly a dozen male cast and crew members, including Josh and Benny Safdie. Instead of starring in a scene with Pattinson, she was paired with an actor recently released from prison before being hired for the film.
According to a statement made by the young woman and obtained by Variety, she “was completely stunned and felt terrified. My distress only got worse when she came out of nowhere, [an actor] whispered in my ear if he could stick it while the cameras were rolling. I said no”. The statement from the now 24-year-old woman was made as part of a legal dispute involving Bear-McClard. The producer is currently embroiled in a contentious divorce and custody battle with the actor and model Emily Ratajkowski as well as private mediation with the Safdie brothers, who fired him from their joint production company, Elara Pictures, last summer. The statement was one of three made by women following Bear-McClard and Ratajkowski’s high-profile split last summer and portrayed the producer as a predator who often preyed on young women on set. (The ‘Gone Girl’ actor has filed for divorce from Bear-McClard in Manhattan Supreme Court, citing an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.)
Variety also spoke to more than a dozen sources familiar with Bear-McClard’s behavior, including two who were in the room when the 17-year-old filmed the disturbing “Good Time” scene. Shortly after production ended, she began having sex with Bear-McClard, despite still being 17 years old. They continued to have a consensual romantic relationship for over two years. (The age of consent in New York is 17.)
Bear-McClard, through a spokesperson, declined to comment. A Safdies spokeswoman said: “The Elara team became aware of Sebastian McClard’s behavior in July 2022. They took immediate action and terminated him.”
The statements – which were made in August – also cover Bear-McClard’s behavior on the set of the Adam Sandler drama.”Uncut Gems.” A woman, who was 18 at the time, says she met a then-married Bear-McClard during production and he began ‘grooming’ her on Instagram, citing his standing in the film industry for make big career promises to him. In his statement, also obtained by Variety, she described an incident at the apartment Bear-McClard shared with Ratajkowski. “Sebastian and I started making out. Things got out of hand and then, without asking my consent, Sebastian inserted himself inside me without using a condom.
The woman described other disturbing behavior, including Bear-McClard calling her derogatory words like “retarded” and “kike”, although he pushed back and called that language a joke. According to her statement, she says he also started following her through an app on her phone. The woman also claims that Bear-McClard began messaging a 15-year-old girl on Instagram who was not part of the production but had visited the set. When confronted, “Sebastian seemed pleased with himself and laughed at my comment. He did not deny my accusations,” the woman said in the statement. Multiple sources tell Variety that Bear-McClard’s contact with the 15-year-old as well as his romantic involvement with another young woman on the ‘Uncut Gems’ set – an assistant who has ties to the film industry – led the Safdies to fire him . (The Safdies also made “Uncut Gems.”)
A third woman, who has worked on several independent films as an intern and assistant, provided a statement obtained by Variety which does not cover sexual misconduct in the workplace, but claims that Bear-McClard engaged in troubling behavior.
Ratajkowski, 31, declined to comment, but friends say she is not surprised by the allegations. She is represented by powerful lawyers Brett Ward and Jackie Combs, whose firm Blank Rome previously handled Tom Cruise during his divorce from Katie Holmes as well as Channing Tatum during his separation from Jenna Dewan. Bear-McClard, now 42, works with high-profile attorney Caroline Krauss, who replaced Robert De Niro during his 2018 split from Grace Hightower. Ratajkowski and Bear-McClard tied the knot in a New York courthouse in February 2018 after just two weeks. Ratajkowski is fighting for sole custody of their son Sylvester, born in March 2021.
“Good Time” and “Uncut Gems” were both released by A24, the New York independent actor behind Best Picture Oscar winners “Everything Everywhere All at Once” and “Moonlight.” The allegations raise serious questions about why a 17-year-old girl who didn’t have an agent at the time was filming nude scenes on a movie set. There is no hard and fast rule prohibiting nudity by minors, but there is a general Screen Actors Guild requirement that terms and conditions of employment must not be “injurious to health, morals and safety of the minor”.
“It looks like they bypassed the whole safety structure of our industry by hiring someone on Instagram who wasn’t a member of a union, who didn’t know their rights,” says Anne Henry, co-founder of BizParentz, an advocacy group for child actors. . “Normally, minors have to have their contract confirmed by a court, and there are many other hoops to throw a minor at. It’s so not normal. Everything is wrong in this situation.
Bear-McClard produced the three most recent films of the Safdie brothers – a filmmaking duo celebrated for their avant-garde style of truth and the use of non-actors mixed with professionals. The trio launched production company Elara together in 2014. One of their most notable projects, the crime thriller “Good Time,” made its strong debut at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, where it competed for the Palme Golden.
Pattinson was not on set the day of the problematic “Good Time” scene, which does not appear in the final version of the film. The performer’s name appears in the credits. According to her statement, Bear-McClard did not discuss the compensation associated with the role and was content to buy her cigarettes after filming. The woman receives no A24 residues for her role. A knowledgeable source says Variety that the scene was used in promotional footage shown to Cannes market buyers in 2016. A24 purchased the film from this footage. A source close to the Safdies, who is familiar with their editing process, claims that this scene never made the final edit for creative reasons.
The women’s claims over the sets of “Good Time” and “Uncut Gems” shine an uncomfortable spotlight on A24, which is still celebrating its huge Oscars this month. The company signed the Safdies and Bear-McClard’s Elara to a first deal in 2020, although after the allegations became a hot topic among insiders involved with the films.
A24 declined to comment.