The shady side of Bryan Singer

After his 1993 debut film Public Access won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, Bryan Singer became the new "it" director in Hollywood. He went on to even more critical acclaim with hits like Apt Pupil and The Usual Suspects, as well as helped kick-start the comic book movie trend with 2000's X-Men. But his personal and professional life has been plagued with scandals, lawsuits, more lawsuits, rumors, allegations, and innuendo. 

Shouldering accusations related to the #MeToo movement from both his own accusers, and those who claim he was potentially complicit in disgraced actor Kevin Spacey's alleged sexual misconduct, Singer's reputation has gone from groundbreaking visionary to Hollywood outcast. And even when he got what some would say was an undeserved second chance by landing a gig directing the Queen biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, he still couldn't walk the straight and narrow. 

Let's take a look at the seemingly shady alter ego of this acclaimed filmmaker. 

He was aware of Kevin Spacey's behavior in the 90s

1995's The Usual Suspects may have put Singer on the Hollywood fast track and earned Kevin Spacey the best supporting actor Oscar, but in a recent interview, Spacey's co-star, Gabriel Byrne, recalled an incident on the set of the cult classic that caused the production to shut down.

"I did not know honestly then the extent of [Spacey's] violence," Byrne told The Sunday Times. "I mean, he was kind of a joke in that people would say, 'That's Kevin,' but nobody really understood the depth of his predations. It was only years later that we began to understand that [filming] was closed down for a particular reason and that was because of inappropriate sexual behavior by Spacey."

As the director of the film, Singer very likely knew the reason why production had to halt, yet he obviously made a conscious decision to continue working on the film. Not a good look. 

He allegedly forced minors to disrobe on set

While working on his second film, 1997's Apt Pupil, a 14-year-old extra named Devin St. Albin claimed Singer forced him to strip naked during a shower scene at Eliot Middle School in Altadena, Calif. According to Entertainment Weekly, two other extras, 17-year-old Ryan Glomboske and 16-year-old David Stockdale (and six additional minors,) joined St. Albin in filing a lawsuit against the production "claiming trauma from the experience, charging the filmmakers with, among other things, infliction of emotional distress, negligence, and invasion of privacy."

After an eight-month investigation, the Los Angeles District Attorney's office concluded there was "no cause to file charges" and summarily dismissed the case due to lack of evidence. 

"They have no merit and nothing happened that day. And that is a fact, from my perspective and the perspective of many people who were there that day–and it also happens to be the District Attorney's opinion after a months-long investigation," Singer said in response to the lawsuit (via FreeLibrary.com.) "It's just an unfortunate thing that occurs, I believe, when one is working with a company that has a lot of money. I have never experienced anything like that before, but I've been told by friends who have been in the business a lot longer that I should expect it not to be the last time.”

His former business partner is a registered sex offender

In the late-'90s, Singer was an early investor in the now defunct internet startup Digital Entertainment Network. The company's founder, Marc Collin-Rector, along with Chad Shackley and Brock Pierce (former child actor and current chairman of Bitcoin Foundation) were known for their lavish parties at Collin-Rector's Encino mansion.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, several young men came forward with lawsuits in 2000 claiming they were sexually and physically abused "through coercion or subversion to consume controlled substances and/or prescription drugs," including the "date-rape drug" Rufinol, and "threatened with physical injury and economic harm."  

The same year, a 17-year-old former employee of Digital Entertainment Network sued the company and its three founders, "accusing them of inducing him into sexual relationships after hiring him as [a] 15-year-old actor," reported the Los Angeles Times

Collins-Rector was indicted by a New Jersey grand jury in 2000, but before justice could be served, he fled the country with Shackley and Pierce. "The trio surfaced in May 2002 in a villa in the south Spanish beach city of Marbella. Police found guns, machetes and child pornography in the house," said The Hollywood Reporter.

Once extradited back to the States in 2004, Collins-Rector entered a plea deal and served a brief stint in prison, said The Hollywood Reporter. "He emerged as a registered sex offender under weekly supervision."

He had an altercation with Halle Berry

During the making of 2003's X-Men 2, it was rumored that Singer got into a heated exchange with Halle Berry that ended with the Academy Award-winning actress telling the director to "kiss my black a**." 

In a 2014 interview with Empire magazine (via Oh No They Didn't!), Singer recalled the now infamous incident, which reportedly began with a squabble involving Tom DeSanto, the film's executive producer. "We got into an argument and were late shooting, and certain actors were pissed. Two in particular, one who had to wear a lot of make up. We had a conference in one of the trailers and I felt that there was a misunderstanding, and I didn't agree with them, and Halle stormed out. But she didn't say… What was it? What was the quote?" When reminded of Berry's verbal jab, Singer continued: "No! She actually said, 'You can watch my black a** while I walk out of here.' [It's even better]. That's why I remember it!"

Berry reprised her role as Storm in Singer's X-Men: Days of Future Past in 2014. At the time of this writing, she has yet to publicly comment on the behind-the-scenes drama. 

He was accused of sexually assaulting a minor

In April 2014, Michael Egan III filed a civil lawsuit in a Hawaiian federal court claiming Singer used "drugs and alcohol to force anal and oral sex on Egan while promising him film roles" when Egan was an aspiring teen actor. Per Reuters, Eagan said he told the Los Angeles Police Department and the FBI that he was a victim of an underage sex ring in 1999 and 2000, but it "fell on deaf ears." 

"We didn't get anywhere and then I basically buried it in me as deep as I possibly could," Eagan said during a news conference (via Reuters.) "I was raped numerous times in that house by numerous individuals. You were like a piece of meat to these people. They'd pass you around between them."

According to Entertainment WeeklySinger and his attorney denied the allegations and filed a motion to dismiss the charges due to "phone records and receipts that prove he was not in Hawaii when Egan claims the assaults took place." 

Eventually, Egan petitioned the court to dismiss his lawsuit due to the fact that he was reportedly unable to find a lawyer to represent him, and on Aug. 28, 2014, a judge ruled "that Egan's case would be dismissed without prejudice, allowing Egan to refile in the future," reported Entertainment Weekly. Singer and his attorney fought against this, "but U.S.District Judge Susan Oki Mollway denied Singer's request."

He was accused of sexually assaulting another teen boy

Less than a month after Egan filed his lawsuit, a British man known as "John Doe No. 117" alleged that Singer and Broadway producer Gary Goddard sexually assaulted him when he was 17. 

According to the Daily Beast, the teen's lawsuit claimed Goddard "convinced' the boy to send nude photos and videos and to participate in an explicit webcam session. According to the court filing, Goddard invited the teen to the London premiere of Superman Returns, and from there, things allegedly turned very ugly at an after party with Goddard and Singer. The day after the party, according to the complaint, "Singer contacted the teenager to apologize," reported the Daily Beast.

According to the New York Daily News, Singer was later dropped from the case, while Goddard remained a defendant.

His house parties are rumored to be ridden with scandal

With headlines such as "Bryan Singer's Obsession With Barely Legal Boys Was an Open Secret," "Inside Hollywood's 'Twink' Pool Parties," and "Inside Bryan Singer's 'infamous' drug-fueled pool orgies," there's almost too much information on the internet about Singer's infamous parties. What we know for sure is that he hosted a ton of them. 

"Everyone knew Bryan Singer liked his boys younger," recording artist and actor Jason Dottley told the Daily Beast. "The age range was really tight between 18 and 21. We'd all joke about 'aging out' of Bryan Singer's parties — he had a very narrow window." 

His behavior was 'erratic' on set

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Singer's rumored partying contributed to Superman Returns (2006) coming in over budget. "Executives who have worked on his movies say the director was sometimes erratic, often complaining he was in pain, at times appearing 'heavily medicated' and sometimes failing to appear on set," THR reported. 

Singer's alleged behavior, which also reportedly caused issues on the set of X-Men: Apocalypse, made the news once again Dec. 1, 2017 when Twentieth Century Fox halted production of the Queen biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody due to Singer's "unexpected unavailability." According to BuzzFeed, Singer was fired three days later because of "a pattern of unreliable behavior on the set." Sources close to the studio claimed "producers and his star had grown tired of Singer's behavior, which saw him routinely show up late to set. Another source has said that a cinematographer had to step in and direct during a previous 'non-showing,'" per The Hollywood Reporter.

Actor Tom Hollander "briefly quit the film because of Singer's behavior," and the film's star, Rami Malek, allegedly complained to the studio about Singer's "unreliability and unprofessionalism," according to The Hollywood Reporter. The festering tension eventually boiled over into a reportedly confrontation between Malek and the troubled director that ended with "Singer throwing an object."

How many chances will Hollywood take on him?

Despite his history of erratic behavior on set, as well as repeated allegations of sexual assault and abuse leveled against him over the years, Bryan Singer keeps getting hired in Hollywood. 20th Century Fox took a chance on him because of his "passion" for bringing the story of Freddy Mercury to life for the 2018 Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. Per The Hollywood Reporter, Fox executives sat down with Singer and laid out their expectations: "Don't break the law. Show up to work every day. Failure to comply will bring consequences." Things didn't exactly go that way.

"From the beginning, [Singer] was up to his old tricks," a project insider told THR. "He would shoot, he'd be exhausted, [cinematographer] Tom Sigel would shoot." Soon afterward, Singer "asked the studio to pause the production" during Thanksgiving, then left without permission, claiming he was exhausted and needed to care for his allegedly ailing mother. The studio either didn't believe him or didn't care, and Singer was fired him in December, with an executive on the project telling THR, "I don't think Bryan is an interesting debate anymore." 

And yet, as of this writing, Singer is still enjoying another chance. Asked about Singer's continued — and increasingly controversial —attachment to Millennium Films' Red Sonja reboot, Millennium Chairmen Avi Lerner referenced the financial success of Bohemian Rhapsody as "testament to [Singer's] remarkable vision and acumen." Lerner continued (per Variety), "I know the difference between agenda driven fake news and reality, and I am very comfortable with this decision. In America people are innocent until proven otherwise." 

He blamed the studio for firing him

Despite the studios stern stance on Singer's alleged behavior, Singer accepted no personal responsibility for his firing. 

In a statement obtained by Variety, he shared his take on the termination: "'Bohemian Rhapsody' is a passion project of mine," Singer said. "With fewer than three weeks to shoot remaining, I asked Fox for some time off so I could return to the U.S. to deal with pressing health matters concerning one of my parents. This was a very taxing experience, which ultimately took a serious toll on my own health. Unfortunately, the studio was unwilling to accommodate me and terminated my services. This was not my decision and it was beyond my control."

Singer also addressed rumors that he and Malek, who plays Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, clashed on set. "While, at times, we did have creative differences on set, Rami and I successfully put those differences behind us and continued to work on the film together until just prior to Thanksgiving," Singer claimed. "I wanted nothing more than to be able to finish this project and help honor the legacy of Queen, but Fox would not permit me to do so because I needed to temporarily put my health, and the health of my loved ones, first."

He was accused of raping a minor in 2003

Just days after he was fired from Bohemian Rhapsody, Singer was sued for allegedly sexually assaulting a minor. According to TMZ, Cesar Sanchez-Guzman alleges that while he was partying on a yacht "populated by young gay males" in Seattle in 2003, Singer forced the then 17-year-old to perform oral sex and then raped him. 

Hours after the allegations were made public, Singer's rep issued a statement (via Entertainment Tonight.) "Bryan categorically denies these allegations and will vehemently defend this lawsuit to the very end." The statement asserted, "The attorney behind this lawsuit is the same lawyer who represented Michael Egan, the convicted felon who sued Bryan Singer in 2014. In the end, Egan was forced to dismiss that case once the facts came out and his story completely fell apart."

Four more accusers came forward

On Jan. 23, 2019, after a year-long investigation with over 50 sources on record, The Atlantic published a disturbing and graphic report in which men, including four of whom who told their stories publicly for the first time, accused the director of sexually assaulting them when they were minors. The majority of the men described their circumstances (youth, poverty, a lack of a supportive family) that left them to vulnerable to Singer's alleged sexual predation.

"He was predatory in that he would ply people with alcohol and drugs and then have sex with them," a man identified as Ben, recalled. "It wasn't a hold-you-down-and-rape-you situation." Victor Valdovinos, who was 13 when Singer allegedly abused him during the filming of Apt Pupil, claimed the incident took place at a school that served as a location. "He came back to where I was in the locker room throughout the day to molest me," said Valdovinos, adding that the encounter left him "frozen." Singer claims he did not know Valdovinos. A fourth accuser, identified as Eric, told Singer he was 17 before the two had sex in a hot tub.

Singer categorically denies the allegations in the article. "Again, I am forced to reiterate that his story rehashes claims from bogus lawsuits filed by a disreputable cast of individuals willing to lie for money or attention," he said in a statement (per CNN), calling the story a "homophobic smear piece" meant to take advantage of the success of Bohemian Rhapsody.