“West Side Story” star Rachel Zegler asked why she was “being held accountable” and expected to “answer” for a sexual assault accusation that surfaced against her co-star, Ansel Elgort, in 2020.
During the 20-year-old actress’ interview with Elle Magazine for the May 2022 issue, the “Snow White” star said it was like a “gut punch,” adding that it didn’t make sense to her to be asked about the allegations against Elgort “even though the person in question was present,” the outlet recently reported.
In June 2020, Zegler’s co-star denied sexually assaulting the woman in 2014, when she was reportedly 17 years old, and Elgort was 20, in a since-deleted Instagram post.
At the time, Elgort said that he and the woman “had a brief, legal, and entirely consensual relationship” and insisted that he had “never and would never assault anyone.” In the state of New York, the age of consent is 17.
“It was a real gut punch, honestly,” Zegler told Elle magazine. “I reverted back to this brain space I was in [back in] June of 2020, when the accusation surfaced. We were in the middle of the first wave of lockdown, and there was nothing to do but doom-scroll. Those days were some of the worst mental health days I’ve ever had.”
“I was sitting there having just turned 19, on the precipice of what was promised to be the biggest moment in my life, and was being held accountable [by the public] for accusations that not only had nothing to do with me but were made about a situation that was said to have occurred [five] years prior to when I had met and worked with this person,” she added. “With no thought to the fact that I was also 17 when I met this person, 17 when I worked with them, 17 and 18 when I had to do love scenes.”
“[There is] inherent discomfort that comes with that realization that there are tons of people who think that you have to answer for the actions of an adult male who can speak for himself,” Zegler continued. “It is so wildly disappointing at every turn, no matter how you slice it. No matter how many times I’ve tried to justify people’s concern when it comes to me in my brain, but then realizing that it comes from a place of me having to answer for that, and not them actually caring about whether or not I was okay, was really hurtful.”
“West Side Story” was up for seven nominations at the 94th Academy Awards show in 2022, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Cinematography. In the end, actress Ariana DeBose took home the Best Supporting Actress Award, as the first openly queer woman of color to win an Academy Award, for her role as Anita.
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