When Jeremy Piven was a hit TV star in the 1990s, he made a name for himself with his hipster movie-star character Ari Gold on HBO’s Entourage. It was a series that both celebrated and skewered life in Hollywood, and he became a household name for his high-energy antics.
Then, in 2017, sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein triggered a seismic shift in the culture of Hollywood — and inspired women to open up about their own experiences of abuse at the hands of powerful men. In the wake of that upheaval, a number of women have accused Piven of inappropriate conduct, though the actor has denied the accusations. He’s since taken a lengthy hiatus from acting, and his new series Mr. Selfridge finds him back on screen in the role of the legendary London department store owner who lives alone with his beloved cat.
Despite his solitude, Piven is still making waves with his latest project. He recently appeared on KTLA’s Frank Buckley Show, where he talked about his career and his time away from the spotlight. But he also opened up about the sexual misconduct allegations against him, which he continues to deny.
Piven has brushed off the accusations, saying they’re “stupid and absurd.” But his accusers aren’t buying it. Three of them told Rolling Stone that they’re frustrated that he skirted accountability and came back without ever apologizing for his actions. One woman says that every time she sees Piven on TV, it makes her feel sick. Another says that her PTSD from the encounters with Piven has prevented her from sleeping.
While the two women’s accounts are different, their stories of sexual misconduct involving Piven share similar themes: they all happened while they were underage and he was in positions of power over them. They were both young enough to have gotten away with it, but they say that the experience left them with lasting trauma.
The women’s stories are disturbing, but it’s Piven’s vehement denial of the allegations that’s raising eyebrows in some circles. That, along with his refusal to take a lie detector test, has some wondering if he’s lying or not.
But for Meador, the answer isn’t as simple as “yes or no.” She believes that systemic problems need to be addressed, and that people like Piven should not continue to be given opportunities in Hollywood until they account for past behavior. Those systems include studios, production companies, management, and even casting directors, she adds. They’re continuing to give him work because they see him as a talented actor. They need to make him accountable. He’s got a chance to redeem himself, but he needs to take action and do so quickly. Otherwise, it’s unlikely that he will earn a seat at the table when these issues are eventually resolved.