Child actors 'preyed upon' in Hollywood's own Savile scandals, says former teen star
Hollywood is in the grip of a child sex-abuse scandal similar to that of the Jimmy Savile case in Britain, 'Lord of the Rings' star Elijah Wood has said.
The 35-year-old said paedophiles had been protected by powerful figures in the film industry and that abuse was probably still taking place. Wood, who made his first film aged eight, said he had been protected from abuse as he was growing up, but that other child actors had been regularly "preyed upon" at parties by industry figures.
"You all grew up with Savile - Jesus, it must have been devastating," he said.
"Clearly something major was going on in Hollywood. It was all organised. There are a lot of vipers in this industry, people who only have their own interests in mind. There is a darkness in the underbelly - if you can imagine it, it's probably happened."
Wood said the abuse was allowed to continue because victims "can't speak as loudly as people in power".
"That's the tragedy of attempting to reveal what is happening to innocent people," he said.
Allegations that senior Hollywood figures have been protecting child abusers have gathered pace in recent years. Roman Polanski, the film director, has been repeatedly defended by Hollywood figures since his 1977 conviction for having sex with a 13-year-old girl. And Woody Allen remains an influential director, despite allegations that he abused his own daughter when she was aged seven. He denies the allegations. Dylan Farrow, Allen's daughter with Mia Farrow, said this year that she was "disgusted" Hollywood continues to work with her 80-year-old father.
Ronan Farrow, Allen's son and Miss Farrow's sister, wrote a piece in 'The Hollywood Reporter' this month attacking the film industry for its "dangerous" silence. He sharply criticised the film stars who accompanied Mr Allen on the red carpet at the premiere of his film 'Cafe Society', which opened the Cannes Film Festival. He said they could "trust that the press won't ask them the tough questions. It's not the time, it's not the place, it's just not done. That kind of silence isn't just wrong, it's dangerous."
Anne Henry, of Bizparents, a group set up to help child actors, said Hollywood was sheltering around 100 abusers and said a "tsunami" of claims was beginning. Corey Feldman, another former child actor who starred in films such as 'Gremlins', 'The Goonies' and 'Stand by Me', has said that as a young teenager he was "surrounded" by abusers.
Wood said he had been spared similar experiences because his mother had not let him attend parties. He said: "If you're innocent you have very little knowledge of the world and you want to succeed. People with parasitic interests will see you as their prey."