It's strange, how the Blade Runner legend now leaves out both [Sean] Young and her co-star Daryl Hannah, presenting it as the collective triumph of Ford, Rutger Hauer with his “tears in rain” speech, and Ridley Scott orchestrating it all. Then again, that kind of thing often blights actors. Like a lot of what befell Young, it could only have happened to a woman.
The past is unknowable. But the idea that a young female actor new to Hollywood would be directed to the casting couch is hardly outlandish, or that the same actor would face the same demands even as a star. On-set, male actors can scream abuse at underlings and have it passed off as being “driven”; making Wall Street, an unwitting Young had a sign reading “cunt” stuck to her back by Sheen. And when the media reported her trials, they did so with the particular pursed delight that greets a woman’s fall from grace.
As for Hollywood, it often finds it easier to give second acts to men. Young could be excused a smile on noting that the highest paid actor in Hollywood for the past two years has been Robert Downey Jr, whose struggle with drug addiction in the 90s saw him spend time in state prison, as well as mistaking a neighbour’s house for his own and falling asleep in a child’s bedroom.
There are probably too many stories about Young’s “theatricality” for them all to be untrue. In the course of our email exchange, I am not always struck by the urge to get stuck in a lift with her. She admits to a “knack for pissing people off.” It is also rude to heckle someone while he’s collecting an award. But it’s unlikely any of this was helped by how the industry treated her. And she can be funny, and self-aware, and if even half those stories were embellished, and just some of that treatment was down to sheer misogyny – well, that’s quite a bum rap. You’d be angry too.