In early 2016, producer Sebastian Bear-McClard reached out to a 17-year-old girl on Instagram — an overture that led to an informal meeting at a Soho loft. Not long after, he let the Safdie brothers know that he had found the perfect person to play a small role in their upcoming film, “Good Time.” The girl, who came from an impoverished background in New York, was excited to meet the film’s star, Robert Pattinson, a then-favorite of teen girls worldwide thanks to the “Twilight” franchise. On the day of filming, she waited all day on the New York set for her scene to be called, unaware of what it entailed. By the time she made her way to a cramped room, she was naked, standing in front of nearly a dozen male cast and crew members including Josh and Benny Safdie. Instead of performing in a scene with Pattinson, she was paired with an actor who had recently been released from prison before being hired for the film.
According to a statement made by the young woman and obtained by Variety, she “was utterly stunned and felt terrified. My distress only worsened when out of nowhere, [an actor] whispered in my ear if ‘he could stick it in’ while the cameras rolled. I said ‘no.’” The statement from the woman, now 24, was made in connection with a legal dispute involving Bear-McClard. The producer is currently involved in a contentious divorce and custody battle with actor and model Emily Ratajkowski as well as private mediation with the Safdie brothers, who fired him from their shared production company, Elara Pictures, last summer. The statement was one of three made by women in the aftermath of Bear-McClard and Ratajkowski’s well-publicized split last summer and depict the producer as a predator who often preyed on young women on set. (The “Gone Girl” actor filed for divorce from Bear-McClard in Manhattan Supreme Court, citing an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.)
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Variety also spoke to more than a dozen sources familiar with Bear-McClard’s behavior, including two who were in the room when the 17-year-old girl shot the disturbing “Good Time” scene. Not long after production ended, she began having sex with Bear-McClard, despite still being 17. They continued to have a consensual romantic relationship for more than two years. (The age of consent in New York is 17.)
Bear-McClard, through a spokesperson, declined to comment. A spokeswoman for the Safdies says: “The Elara team were made aware of Sebastian McClard’s behavior in July 2022. They took immediate action and terminated him.”
The statements — which were made in August — also cover Bear-McClard’s behavior on the set of the Adam Sandler drama “Uncut Gems.” A woman, who was 18 at the time, says she met a then-married Bear-McClard during production and that he began “grooming” her on Instagram citing his position in the film industry to make her major career promises. In her statement, also obtained by Variety, she described an incident that took place at the apartment Bear-McClard shared with Ratajkowski. “Sebastian and I started kissing. Things escalated and then, without asking for my consent, Sebastian inserted himself inside me without using a condom.”
The woman described other disturbing behavior including that Bear-McClard called her derogatory words like “retarded” and a “kike,” though he pushed back and framed that language as a joke. According to her statement, she says that he also began tracking her through an app on her phone. The woman also claims that Bear-McClard began sending messages on Instagram to a 15-year-old girl who was not part of the production but had visited the set. When confronted, “Sebastian appeared pleased with himself and laughed at my comment. He did not deny my accusations,” the woman said in the statement. Multiple sources tell Variety that Bear-McClard’s contact with the 15-year-old as well as his romantic involvement with yet another young woman on the “Uncut Gems” set — an assistant who has film industry ties — led to the Safdies firing him. (The Safdies also directed “Uncut Gems.”)
A third woman, who has worked on several independent films at the intern and assistant level, provided a statement obtained by Variety that does not cover workplace sexual misconduct but asserts that Bear-McClard engaged in troubling behavior.
Ratajkowski, 31, declined comment, but friends say she is not surprised by the allegations. She is being represented by powerhouse attorneys Brett Ward and Jackie Combs, whose firm Blank Rome previously handled Tom Cruise in his divorce from Katie Holmes as well as Channing Tatum in his split from Jenna Dewan. Bear-McClard, now 42, is working with high-profile attorney Caroline Krauss, who repped Robert De Niro in his 2018 break-up with Grace Hightower. Ratajkowski and Bear-McClard were married in a New York courthouse in February 2018 after dating for just two weeks. Ratajkowski is fighting for sole custody of their son Sylvester, who was born in March 2021.
Both “Good Time” and “Uncut Gems” were released by A24, the New York indie upstart behind Oscar best picture winners “Everything Everywhere All at Once” and “Moonlight.” The allegations raise serious questions about why a 17-year-old girl who had no agent at the time was filming nude scenes on the set of a movie. There’s no ironclad rule barring underage nudity, but there is a general Screen Actors Guild requirement that employment conditions not be “detrimental to the health, morals and safety of the minor.”
“It sounds like they circumvented the entire safety structure of our industry by hiring somebody on Instagram who was not a union member, who doesn’t know her rights,” says Anne Henry, co-founder of BizParentz, an advocacy group for child actors. “Normally, minors have to have their contracts court affirmed, and there’s lots of other hoops in order to cast a minor. This is so not normal. Everything is wrong about this situation.”
Bear-McClard has produced the three most recent films of the Safdie brothers – a filmmaking duo celebrated for their edgy verité style and use of non-actors mixed in with professionals. The trio launched the production company Elara together in 2014. One of their most notable projects, the crime thriller “Good Time” made a splashy debut at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, where it competed for the Palme d’Or.
Pattinson was not on set the day of the problematic “Good Time” scene, which does not appear in the final version of the movie. The performer’s name appears in the credits. According to her statement, Bear-McClard did not discuss any pay associated with the role and merely bought her cigarettes after the shoot. The woman does not receive residuals from A24 for her role. A knowledgeable source tells Variety that the scene was used in promo footage that was presented to buyers at the Cannes market in 2016. A24 bought the film off of that footage. A source close to the Safdies, who is familiar with their editing process, says that scene never made the final cut for creative reasons.
The women’s claims involving the sets of “Good Time” and “Uncut Gems” shine an uncomfortable spotlight on A24, still celebrating its huge Oscars showing this month. The company signed the Safdies and Bear-McClard’s Elara to a first-look deal in 2020, well after the “Uncut Gems” allegations had become a hot topic among insiders involved with the film.
A24 declined to comment.
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