Rachel Zegler Criticizes Being Asked About Ansel Elgort's Sexual Assault Allegation: 'It Was a Gut Punch'
Rachel Zegler is getting real about the sexual assault allegation made against her West Side Story co-star, Ansel Elgort. In the latest issue of Elle, the Snow White actress recalled how she felt being asked about the allegation while promoting the Oscar-winning film.
In 2020, a woman accused Elgort -- who plays Zegler's love interest in the film -- of sexually assaulting her in 2014, when she was reportedly 17 years old, and he was 20.
Zegler, Ariana DeBose, and Rita Moreno were questioned about the allegation during a roundtable with The Hollywood Reporter in January -- something she called "a real gut punch."
“It was a real gut punch, honestly,” Zegler said of being asked to answer for her male coworker.
“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," she continued. "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. 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."
While Elgort has vehemently denied the allegation, calling his relationship with the woman, "brief, legal and entirely consensual," Zegler told the magazine that there was a real "discomfort" in feeling like she had to answer for someone, who she said, can "speak for himself."
"[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. 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 OK, was really hurtful," Zegler explained.
She continued, "And also paying no mind when it came to the conversation between myself and these other incredible women in my cast, without any thought process to our experiences as women in the industry who constantly find ourselves in close encounters with men in power, and a very iconic woman in Hollywood who has spoken about her experience with sexual assault. In the grand scheme of things with this woman who has come forward with these allegations, I cannot imagine what she had to go through."
"If I’m sitting here thinking that those days were traumatizing for me, I don’t pretend to know. I could never know," Zegler added. "I really don’t have anything to do with this conversation, and I’m looking forward to moving past it."
When Zegler did address the allegation during that joint interview with The Hollywood Reporter, she said much of the same, telling the outlet that she hopes those involved are "given the opportunity to answer for themselves."
"We made a movie two and a half years ago, and a lot has gone on in the world since then. A lot has changed very publicly, and privately as well. There’s been a lot of awakening," Zegler said. "You just hope that the people involved are OK, that they are asked in a respectful manner and that they are given the opportunity to answer for themselves."
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