Who Is Max Landis? New Details On The Filmmaker Accused Of Sexual Harassment By Eight Women

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Who Is Max Landis? New Details On The Filmmaker Accused Of Sexual Harassment By Eight Women

Unless you are a pretty serious film buff, you’ve probably never heard of Max Landis. His father, John Landis is a legendary director known for films like Animal House and The Blues Brother but his son Max is a decidedly more niche figure, with screenwriting credits like American Ultra, Victor Frankenstein and the Netflix film Bright on his resume.

But now the younger Landis is now making waves, not for his artistic abilities, but for the fact that a number of women are coming forward to accuse him of shockingly abusive and manipulative behavior.

This week, Landis’s ex Ani Baker took to social media to warn others away from Landis, saying: “I’m going to give you some direct info I wish I had gotten, because the experience/aftermath of this person is really destructive, and it will be riddled with pain and emotional work that you don’t need to spend your precious energy on.” She then detailed the appalling details of her relationship with the screenwriter in the hopes of discouraging others from getting involved with him. In addition, she tells The Daily Beast she’s gotten multiple responses from women with similar stories.

Who is Max Landis why are so many women calling him an abuser? Read on to find out.

1. Early years

Max is the son of director John Landis and costume designer and historian Deborah Nadoolman Landis. The couple were collaborators on films like The Blues Brothers and Animal House. Max grew up in Beverly Hills but went to high school at a therapeutic boarding school in Connecticut. He has stated that he has cyclothymia, a cyclical mood disorder similar to bipolar disorder. By the time he was 18, he was collaborating with his father on scripts and gained a reputation as a screenwriter based on his short films and a number of scripts that he was able to sell on spec. He got critical and commercial success for Chronicle in 2012. In 2016, Netflix released the movie Bright, a fantasy script he wrote. While it was critically panned, audiences liked it.

Eight women so far have accused him.

2. Early hints of misogyny

In 2013, he did a now-unavailable interview with Shelby Sells in which he portrayed himself as an insensitive jerk - or as Jezebel wrote at the time “Screenwriter Bro Just Might Be Hollywood's Biggest Fuckwit”. Jezebel included excerpts from the original interview where he said things like “my experience of chicks throwing themselves at you like that — they’re always fucking crazy. no chick worth hooking up with is going to throw it at you because it means they’re crazy.” and “being a single guy in LA is fun as fuck and i love it. the fact that everyone here is so good looking is intense and good and rewarding. something about everyone around you being a little bit better looking, it puts you in a good mood. I don’t feel bad or superficial for saying that.” The piece de resistance of the interview is the way he described giving an ex-girlfriend “a crippling social anxiety, self-loathing, body dysmorphia eating disorder” before cheating on her.

Social media is appalled about the allegations.

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3. The Colour Society

The Daily Beast learned that Landis kept an active social group around him, which he called the Colour Society. One ex-girlfriend recalled “Max’s whole entire MO was, he had a special friend group, it’s very exclusive, and you’re lucky to be a part of it. He introduced me to almost every single one of my current friends.” He would put on lavish parties for his friends, like $50,000 theme parties for hundreds of people but he would also choose smaller groups of people for special events and use the time to badmouth those who weren’t there. One former friend told the Daily Beast that the dynamic was almost cult-like, saying  “I think he really does operate sort of like a cult leader. Here’s someone with a lot of resources and power and glamour, and he’s surrounding himself with people, basically kids who just moved to L.A. from who knows where, who don’t have a network. He swoops in, and like a predator, he knows how to hook a person.”

Rumors about Landis are nothing new.

4. Abuse

One ex-girlfriend, who was only identified as Julie, said his behavior was systematically abusive, telling the Daily Beast: “[Landis would] bring up his hand and fake that he was going to hit me, and laugh when I flinched. He’d constantly threaten to break up with me, speak about his ‘prospects’ to me and openly flirt in front of me. On multiple occasions he’d refer to me as his ex-girlfriend in front of girls at parties we’d go to together as a couple. He’d openly critique my body in front of people and tell me privately that I had the potential to be ‘so hot’ if I committed to working out more. He’d graphically describe sex with his ex-girlfriends and rate their abilities compared to mine, both to me and to his friends and work associates.” Others corroborate her accounts of what he said about her in public.

The abuse Julie describes wasn’t just emotional abuse either. She describes a troubling sexual dynamic between them, recalling: “He showed me abuse and humiliation porn and constantly tested my boundaries—this became murkier and murkier as our relationship got more tumultuous, as I grew to view sex with him as the only way to receive love and connect. This lead to me allowing myself to become more and more abused. He claimed that seeing me cry was a turn on — this later turned into a routine of him yelling and humiliating me until I cried, then having sex with me while I continued to cry with no regard or effort to make things right. He’d instigate fights, belittle and upset me, just so he could have sex with me, and the real, legitimate fights ended the same way. He choked me until I passed out and did humiliating, degrading things to me that I still can’t manage to write out on paper.”

Julie also recalled an instance of unqualified rape where “...he did hold me down and rape me while I said ‘no’ over and over. Afterwards I punched him in the shoulder and I told him, ‘When someone says no, you’re supposed to stop. What you just did is what they call rape.’ He said he thought we were playing a game, and that I liked it. He didn’t care.”

He has been suspected of rape before.

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5. Earlier allegations

As early as 2017, there were rumors about Landis’s status as an alleged abuser. When Landis was using Twitter to promote Bright, actress Anna Akana responded: “Written by a psychopath who sexually abused and assaults women, right? Cool.” At the same time, The Daily Beast reported that Zoe Quinn, a video game developer and artist, tweeted a thread about  Landis that began with: “Sometimes men who commit sexual assault are talented screenwriters and their work comes with baggage. Other times, they’re Max Landis.” In addition, MAD magazine editor Allie Goertz sent out a cryptic tweet that read: “I can’t imagine who is more scared in a post-Weinstein world than a famous director’s son.” The tweet was presumed at the time to be about Landis.

Landis has long had a reputation for abusing women.

6. Silence

At the moment, Landis isn’t refuting any of the allegations about him. The Daily Beast says his only response to what has been written about him is a short statement saying “Well, this all sounds horrible.”

Many people believe his accusers based on personal experience.

We can all agree that it does sound horrible. If the allegations are true, then it’s safe to say that they actually are horrible and Max Landis is capable of horrible things.

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.