Susan Cheng, an editorial assistant for BuzzFeed, has accused Mad Men and One Tree Hill actor Paul Johansson of sexual harassment after he allegedly made inappropriate comments before an interview for the site.
In an article published on Monday, May 18, the writer claimed the 51-year-old created a tense situation by using innuendo while making small talk with another writer prior to their sit-down.
Paul in Mad Men . (Photo Credit: AMC)
Cheng details the conversation:
“Why are you so tan?” Johansson asked one of my colleagues.
“I was outside playing tennis all weekend,” she answered.
“I play tennis,” he said. “I’m not very good though.”
“I could probably beat you,” she replied.
“This is what we refer to as flirting where I am from,” he responded blithely. “I’ll find your weak spot.”
“I don’t have any,” she responded.
“My serve is pretty strong,” he said. “I’ll serve the ball right down your throat.”
Interestingly enough, Paul’s character — Ferg Donnelly — sexually harassed Christina Hendricks’ character on the show, and he was at the BuzzFeed offices collaborating on a listicle titled, “13 Ways to React to Dicks at Work, As Told By Paul Johansson.”
In her article, Cheng also claimed Paul said he was “sweating like a rapist,” and put his arms around her while she showed him how to make a GIF on her computer.
Nearly three weeks after the interview, Cheng reached out to Paul’s publicist requesting to speak to the actor about his behavior during the shoot. His lawyer, Andrew B. Brettler, responded on his behalf, defending his client.
“There is nothing sexual or inappropriate about that statement,” the attorney wrote in reference to the “I’ll serve the ball right down your throat” comment, adding that labeling the remarks as sexual innuendo is “absurd.”
Susan Cheng, who wrote the post accusing Paul Johansson. (Photo Credit: Twitter)
In her post, Cheng explained that she published her experience because she’s disturbed by how commonplace this kind of harassment has become in Hollywood.
“In the immediate aftermath of my interview with Johansson, I’d shrugged off one of my colleague’s suggestions to write about the experience and told myself that this was bound to happen one day,” she recalled.
“Every journalist has had a negative experience with an interviewee at some point in her career, and this was mine, right? It worries me that I felt this way. It worries me that it took a conversation with my editor to make me realize that I should have been pissed. If I were a man, Johansson would not have said those things in front of me, let alone to me.”