It has become more common in recent years to see news that an actor or crew member has been let go from a movie or TV show due to some form of alleged misconduct. But while some facing accusations walk away quietly, others have fought back or attempted to share the story from their perspective. In April, Deadline broke the news that Oscar-nominated actor Frank Langella, 84, was leaving the Netflix series The Fall of the House of Usher because of alleged inappropriate behavior on the set. A few weeks later, the actor responded in his own words, penning a guest column for Deadline. The column sheds some light on the behavior that led to the investigation, as well as Langella’s defiant attitude towards his firing. Read on to find out why the actor says he’s “been canceled.”
The Fall of the House of Usher comes from The Haunting of Hill House and Midnight Mass creator Mike Flanagan and adapts a handful of Edgar Allan Poe stories, including that of the title. Langella was set to star as Roderick Usher, one of the only surviving members of a formerly illustrious family. Other actors in the cast include Mary McDonnell, Carla Gugino, Mark Hamill, Zach Gilford, and Kate Siegel.
Deadline’s initial report about Langella’s exit noted that the show was “about halfway through production” and that his character would be recast and his already completed scenes reshot. On April 29, it was announced that Bruce Greenwood, who’s appeared in several of Flanagan’s projects, would be replacing Langella in the role.
When TMZ reported that an investigation into Langella’s behavior on the set of The Fall of the House of Usher was underway, the outlet included claims from a production source who said that the actor “made an inappropriate joke that was sexual in nature” and “touched the leg of a female co-star” before jokingly asking her, “Did you like that?”
Netflix declined to comment on Deadline’s report that an investigation had confirmed wrongdoing.
On May 5, Deadline published a column by Langella titled, “Fired By Netflix, Frank Langella Refutes Allegations Of ‘Unacceptable Behavior.'” In the piece, the actor writes about the incident with an unnamed co-star that led to his firing.
“On March 25 of this year, I was performing a love scene with the actress playing my young wife,” Langella writes. “Both of us were fully clothed. I was sitting on a couch, she was standing in front of me. The director called ‘cut.’ ‘He touched my leg,’ said the actress. ‘That was not in the blocking.’ She then turned and walked off the set, followed by the director and the intimacy coordinator. I attempted to follow but was asked to ‘give her some space.’ I waited for approximately one hour, and was then told she was not returning to set and we were wrapped.”
Like many shows and movies do these days, The Fall of the House of Usher has an intimacy coordinator on set. The intimacy coordinator’s job is to work with the actors and the production to make sure that any intimate scenes, clothed or otherwise, are fully choreographed and safe and comfortable for everyone involved.
In his Deadline piece, Langella recaps a phone call with Netflix’s human resources department.
He writes, “‘Before the love scene began on March 25,’ said the questioner, ‘our intimacy coordinator suggested where you both should put your hands. It has been brought to our attention that you said, “This is absurd!”‘ ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘I did. And I still think so.’ It was a love scene on camera. Legislating the placement of hands, to my mind, is ludicrous. It undermines instinct and spontaneity.”
Langella also claims that he was told not to reach out to anyone, including his co-star or the intimacy coordinator.
The afternoon that word of the investigation first hit the internet, “I was fired,” the actor continues. “I was not given a hearing with Netflix. My request to meet one-on-one with the actress was denied. The directors and the producer stopped answering my emails and phone calls. Within 30 minutes of my firing, a letter went out to cast and crew and a full press release was sent immediately.”
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The actor begins the column by writing, “I have been canceled. Just like that,” and pointing to “the increasing madness that pervades our industry” as the reason for his recasting.
Langella writes for Deadline that being the lead actor on a show “requires … that you set an example by keeping the atmosphere light and friendly,” and claims that his attempts to do that on The Fall of the House of Usher were taken the wrong way. He even says that a producer told him, “You cannot do that, Frank. You can’t joke. You can’t compliment. You can’t touch. It’s a new order.”
“I cannot speak to the intentions of my accuser or Netflix, but the impact on me has been incalculable,” he goes on. “I lost a thrilling part, the chance at future earnings and perhaps face a stretch of unemployment. Netflix terminated me after three months of work with only three weeks left to shoot, and I have as yet to be fully remunerated for my services. Most importantly, my reputation has been tarnished.”
Langella writes that, to him, “these indignities are … the real definition of unacceptable behavior” and that “cancel culture is the antithesis of democracy.” He claims he was told to “feign humility” and “apologize,” advice he declined to follow.