In an exclusive interview, renowned actress Andrea Evans talked with us about producing documentary ‘Rocking the Couch.’
Rocking the Couch, by producer Andrea Evans and director Minh Collins, is a chilling and eye-opening documentary about the horrific atmosphere in Hollywood prior to the #metoo movement.
The documentary focuses specifically on a case where twelve women went up against a sexual predator in court. They won, but their careers were stalled and destroyed as a result.
In many ways, these women were the earliest voices of challenge to the establishment. But when they put themselves in the ring, the court of public opinion was not on their side. So instead of being met with support, they were met primarily with silence.
They won the lawsuit, but the case was essentially forgotten, and life went on.
Andrea Evans’ documentary finally honored these women, giving them the credit they deserve as the ones who broke ground on these issues. Evans’ primary question to us is — what if we had paid attention then instead of waiting until now to change things?
Here’s what Andrea Evans had to say about producing Rocking the Couch.
Commyounicate interviewer — Ryan Mekkes: So I saw the movie and it was incredible. Really amazing. Really well done.
Andrea Evans: Glad you liked it.
Mekkes: So what was your desire as far as what people would get out of this and what they would see in the story of this case?
Evans: Well, the whole thing started because my good friend Minh Collins (who is another executive producer and the director) and I were sitting around having coffee when the Weinstein and Cosby cases were just coming to full attention in the press. And we were talking about how we thought there were parts of this story that weren’t explored and about how somebody was going to make a great documentary about it. And we kind of looked at each other and just said, let’s do this. We wanted to explore the meanings of the term “casting couch” and how it came about and how it kind of became a joke and part of American society. Like if you went into a room and there’s 50 people and you ask them what the casting couch meant, probably 48 of them would know what you were talking about. And a good 30 of them would laugh. It’s become almost a comical term over a very non-comical situation. So we kind of wanted to explore how that happened and then it kind of morphed into a tale of one particular case. And so it’s become much more than we originally sought out to do, but we’re very happy about that.
Mekkes: The case you cover in this documentary is such a powerful story because it’s twelve women who went after this perpetrator in court before the support of public opinion was on their side.
Mekkes: And even now, it’s never easy, but what was your impression of these women in talking to them and connecting with them? What was your impression of the type of people that they were?
Evans: Well, my impression was they were all very brave, wonderful people — brave to come forward then and brave to come talk about it now. Because what’s interesting about this case, as you said — it was before the shift in public opinion that we’ve seen recently with the #metoo movement. My husband told me about the case. I had not heard of it. I was living in Hollywood and certainly was in the industry in those years and I never heard anything about this case. It was like it was brushed under the rug. It got a little bit of national press and then it just disappeared. It really is a tale of twelve brave women and the police department that believed in them and went after this guy, even after the union and everybody told them that their careers would be ruined — [that] they should not do it. And, in fact, their careers were ruined and never took off. But it was so very brave. They did the right thing and nobody seemed to notice.
Mekkes: That’s incredible. One of the most, I think, impactful parts of it for me was when you guys talked with Susan Hayn — the cop who did the sting to catch the perpetrator, Wallace Kaye.
Evans: Yes. Yes.
Mekkes: What was it like speaking with her? Because, I mean, I don’t even have words to describe how brave she is and what a hero she is to this whole movement.
Evans: I agree. And, you know, it was interesting talking to her and getting her on board and then interviewing her because she’s not an actress; she was a cop. That was her job, a job she loved. And she was put in this position of going undercover and basically became a victim herself. And that is the risk you take when you do that — but she helped these women get justice. She’s a very, very brave woman. These people should be applauded for what they did. As you said, they’re heroes, and they’ve gone unnoticed. What I was struck by is that everybody involved in this case — because I was the one who sought them out and contacted them — they were all like, I can’t believe you’re the first person to call.
Evans: Nobody else asked to talk to them. And it’s such a shame because they were all so brave and all did their jobs wonderfully, and nobody noticed.
Mekkes: Yeah, to be honest, I was unaware of the case as well. This was a story that needed to be told.
Evans: Yes. And we also posed the question — if people had paid attention, maybe you wouldn’t have had your Harvey Weinsteins. Maybe you wouldn’t have had all these people that had to suffer over these decades since then — but nobody paid attention.
Mekkes: So let me ask you — what is the definition of a casting couch? Because that seems like a finite term, but it also seems broad in ways. How would you define what a casting couch is and what it means?
Evans: Well, it isn’t an actual thing. And, as you know, having watched the documentary, we go over at length the definition of it. But it’s come to refer to somebody essentially sleeping their way to the top in the entertainment industry.
Evans: That is what it has come to mean. And, as we go into in the movie, over the decades it’s meant many different things. But that is essentially the meaning.
Mekkes: Okay. So delving a little deeper, would you consider the whole issue of a Hollywood power dynamic to be maybe the biggest issue facing the industry right now? The people in power lording over aspiring actors?
Evans: Well, I think it’s definitely a very big issue. I have to say I think it’s a very big issue in pretty much every industry. I do think the only thing that makes it different in the entertainment industries is that it has been so accepted. Everybody knows it’s been going on, and as actors, we’re independent contractors; we go from job to job. The only people we really had looking out for us were the union. So the unions didn’t stand behind us — we had nothing. You’re just out there on your own trying to figure out how to get ahead in a business that has no direct path. I remember telling somebody, when you want to be a lawyer, you have to go to college, and then you have to take your Lsat, and then you have to go to law school, and then you have to pass the bar. There’s a definite path for a lot of careers on how you get ahead. And in the entertainment industry, there is no direct path. So you’re kind of stuck there flailing about in the wind trying to figure out how to get ahead. And I think that’s what ends up with a lot of people in trouble.
Mekkes: Wow. So looking at the #metoo movement — thank God it happened, thank God it gained momentum, and thank God for Twitter, right?
Mekkes: Thank God for social media — has the movement had the desired effect, though? Are there still serious issues that need to be worked out? Or is it truly a new day?
Evans: Well, I think what’s truly a new day, that I see, is that I think for the first time, women, and I say women because it does happen mostly to women (that’s not to exclude men because it does happen to men too, most definitely) — but we as a society have not really looked at the victims of sexual abuse fairly. I think as a society we always question them; we put them on the hot seat — like, did you do something to encourage this? … Did you make this up? For some reason, in our society, when women have claimed they were abused, they were the ones put on trial, not the perpetrators.
Mekkes: Victim blaming.
Evans: Yeah. So I think now there’s been a shift in that. Now, how that manifests itself, how that changes things, I think is yet to be seen. Hopefully, it continues, and hopefully, this documentary is a small part of it. I hope when people watch it, they come away with that and they come away with a real impression of what it has been like in the industry and maybe can relate it to whatever industry they are in themselves. Or if they want to go into the entertainment industry, maybe it’s a bit of a cautionary tale on how to protect yourself — what to do. So hopefully, all those things will be achieved.