“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 years prior,” actress Rachel Zegler told Elle Magazine about the allegation her West Side Story co-star, Ansel Elgort, had sexually assaulted an underage woman when he was 20. Elgort has denied the allegation.
The actress said she felt the “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 [Elgort] who can speak for himself.”
The questions were not only misdirected, Zegler maintains, they were also insensitive. At the time of the movie’s production, she was the same age as Elgort’s accuser clamed to be when the alleged assault took place.
People gave “no thought to the fact that I was also 17 when I met this person [Elgort], 17 when I worked with them, 17 and 18 when I had to do love scenes.” Elgort was 25 or 26 at the time of those scenes.
The result of being asked again about the allegations, according to the actress, was retraumatizing.
“I reverted back to this brain space I was in [back in] June of 2020,” she said, “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.”