Charlyne Yi Says They Were Physically and Mentally Abused on ...

28 days ago
Time Bandits

Actor Charlyne Yi has detailed the experience of being physically assaulted by a scene partner on the set of the upcoming Apple TV+ adaptation of Time Bandits, which Yi says led to their coercion into quitting the production and subsequent denial of workers’ compensation for a back injury and post-traumatic stress. 

Yi, a main cast member in the upcoming series from writer-producer-director Taika Waititi, wrote on Instagram on Wednesday that a male actor with whom they shared a scene repeatedly pressed his body against their back so hard that they had to “dig [their] feet into the ground to keep my stance during rehearsals and filming.” According to Yi, this physical abuse continued after they attempted to “shove him off” and repeated during their time on set, with the abuser deploying “covert” tactics to control his public image while their complaints of extreme back pain to colleagues, producers and HR were met with gaslighting tactics.  

“Give me my workers comp to heal my back and PTSD. Paying me for episodes I was forced to leave, does not pay for the retaliation I was met with, and will be. Nor does it provide for my healthcare,” Yi captioned a Wednesday Instagram post. This was a follow-up to an initial post on May 9, in which the actor wrote: “Instead of asking ‘why did it take them so long to speak up’ why not ask ‘what institutions and circumstances make it unsafe to?’”

The 10-episode series for Apple TV+, based on the Terry Gilliam 1981 film about a time-traveling band of thieves, was shot in New Zealand and Toronto in late 2022, wrapping in January 2023. Yi exited the series about halfway through their allotted time on the production and was compensated for their entire contract, a representative from Paramount Television Studios told The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday. 

On Wednesday, Yi detailed on social media how, following the initial act of physical abuse, they fled to the bathroom to “throw up from the pain,” but not before the accused abuser “asked me where I was going, something he never asked,” as Yi explained. Later, he dropped a gift of a jar of honey in Yi’s hair and makeup trailer, which on Instagram Yi evaluates as an act of covert narcissism to control his image on set as he carried on with the abuse; this also involved their abuser altering the scene’s blocking and, as Yi also claims, loudly commenting outside their waiting tent and “laughing about me going to HR.”

“I could not even stand straight without shooting pains, could not sleep, and was constantly disassociating from chronic pain,” Yi shared in their first post on May 9. 

However, a source with knowledge from the Time Bandits set told THR that despite Yi’s post detailing repeated abuse in this scene, the actual scene in which the reported “physical assault” occurred involved a fellow actor bumping into Yi and then picking them up; this occurred during a scene where actors were running, the source claims. The source also emphasized that the incident occurred 18 months ago.

According to the on-set source, following Yi’s complaint, multiple individuals and witnesses were interviewed as part of the full investigation, but none of their claims could be substantiated. Still, new proactive steps were taken to address any workplace concerns. Yi also received assistance with worker’s compensation, which is not handled by Paramount Television Studios but is farmed out to a third party. 

Yi was not coerced to quit but was told enforcement of their contract would be waived as they were given the choice to stay or depart. Yi had repeatedly made it clear they were unhappy on set, the source told THR; they chose to depart the show and received payment for all guaranteed episodes — and they currently have open claims after receiving some workman’s compensation. Yi, however, alleges in their post that before an investigation was launched into their claims of abuse, they were told by HR that they could exit the production and “leave with ‘integrity.’”

“They debated my life, gaslit me, told me to feed my abuser’s ego… to submit to my abuser so he wouldn’t physically assault me more…they treated my body/mind/soul like it was disposable, making me want to commit suicide which I am not prone to thinking this way,” Yi wrote. “I am tired of being threatened for protecting my life and others.” 

THR reached out to a representative for Yi for further comment on what happened on the Time Bandits set but did not immediately hear back. 

In a statement emailed to THR on Thursday, a rep for Paramount Television Studios acknowledged that Yi had filed a complaint while on the set of Time Bandits.

“The safety of our cast and crew is very important to us, and we take all concerns that are raised to us very seriously. At the time of the complaint, Paramount Television Studios conducted a full investigation regarding allegations that were brought to our attention,” the statement read. “While all investigations are confidential and we cannot comment on specifics, additional steps were taken to address concerns.”

Yi has been outspoken in the past about the misconduct and behavior of men on film and television sets. In 2018, horror rocker Marilyn Manson visited the cast of the Fox series House, while Yi, as a series regular, was filming the final season and as they wrote in a tweet, “harassed just about every woman asking us if we were going to scissor, rhino & called me a China man.” Four months before this, Yi made headlines when they accused Arrested Development’s David Cross of making racist comments when they met years prior. 

In 2021, Yi posted to Instagram, sharing that when they tried to quit The Disaster Artist “because [director and star] James Franco is a sexual predator, they tried to bribe me with a bigger acting role,” and “minimized” the accusations against Franco. “I literally heard of him abusing new women that week,” Yi claimed, also lumping Seth Rogen, a producer on the film, in with Franco’s enablers and wrote that he should also be held accountable.

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