Hugh Jackman, star of the upcoming Broadway revival of “The Music Man,” has finally spoken out regarding beleaguered producer Scott Rudin, who recently stepped away from the high-profile production.
“I want to say how much I respect and applaud the people that have spoken up about their experience working with Scott Rudin. It takes an enormous amount of courage and strength to stand up and state your truth,” the 52-year-old stage and screen actor said in a statement Wednesday to the New York Times, two weeks after an exposé about the powerful producer.
“This has started a conversation that is long overdue, not just on Broadway, and the entertainment industry but across all workforce,” he said.
Acknowledging that Rudin had stepped away from the production but not elaborating, Jackman said “The Music Man” is “rebuilding” its team and aims to create an environment where “everyone is seen, heard and valued.”
The show is scheduled to start previews Dec. 20, with a Feb. 19, 2022, opening.
Rudin was called out, after years of bad behavior, as an “absolute monster” in a Hollywood Reporter story published April 7. Among the allegations: that the mogul threw things at people, including a stapler and a baked potato; slammed a computer monitor down on an assistant’s hand; regularly berated and fired those working for him; and went through more than 100 assistants in five years.
Ten days later, the “Book of Mormon” and “Uncut Gems” producer sent a statement to the Washington Post.
“Much has been written about my history of troubling interactions with colleagues, and I am profoundly sorry for the pain my behavior caused to individuals, directly and indirectly,” Rudin wrote, in part, in the statement. “After a period of reflection, I’ve made the decision to step back from active participation on our Broadway productions, effective immediately.”
He added, “I do not want any controversy associated with me to interrupt Broadway’s well deserved return, or specifically, the return of the 1,500 people working on these shows.”
But the Pay Up Hollywood Twitter account, which began as a hashtag on behalf of chronically underpaid industry assistants, was not satisfied Wednesday with Jackman’s words alone.
“#ScottRudin will still be involved (behind the scenes), still profit off Music Man, and still escape accountability for the decades of abuse he doled out and for the lives he ruined. We ask @RealHughJackman, #SuttonFoster & the Broadway/Hollywood communities to demand REAL change,” the group said Wednesday in a tweet.
Tony-winning actor Karen Olivo, who’s been active in the movement to make American theater more equitable and diverse, said in an Instagram video last week that she would not return to the cast of “Moulin Rouge!” — a production unaffiliated with Rudin — when Broadway reopens.
“Building a better industry — I’m yelling now — building a better industry is more important than putting money in my pockets,” she said.
But Jackman had a different opinion.
“The most important voice we needed to hear from was Scott Rudin, he has now spoken up and stepped away from The Music Man,” he said in his statement. “I hope and pray this is a journey of healing for all the victims and the community.”
Times theater critic Charles McNulty contributed to this report.