A few days ago, it was a (Mr) Big week for actor Chris Noth. The well-known, veteran actor – winner of two-time Golden Globe nominee and a SAG Award nominee and whose most recent appearances have been the likes of The Equalizer revamp and an unlikely, recurring Doctor Who adversary etc – had just reprised his role as Mr Big in the Sex and the City reboot And Just Like That and was getting a lot of column inches regarding the pilot episode’s decision to… spoiler alert… kill him off. It was an unexpected pivot, but when exercise-empire Pelaton were miffed that Big’s demise was linked to over-training on one of their machines, they hit back with a sense of humour – a commercial, narrated by Ryan Reynolds showing Noth very much alive and well. Turnaround is fair play.
But a week is a long time.
Mere days later, Noth appears to be without representation (dropped by his agency A3 Artists Agency), booted from lucrative roles and endorsements and under investigation for at least two incidents regarding on-set activity with complaints spread over a decade. Two women have accused Noth of rape – one in LA in 2004 and the other in New York City in 2015. Shortly afterwards, Zoe Lister-Jones (who worked with Noth during his time on Law & Order) also accused Noth of ‘sexually inappropriate behavior’.
In a brief but definitive statement, CBS and Universal Television said on Monday that “Chris Noth will no longer film additional episodes of The Equalizer, effective immediately”, though industry site Deadline suggested that there is currently one un-aired episode featuring his character ‘Bishop’ that is scheduled for the return of the show after the holiday break. The three main actors in And Just Like That (Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon) issued an equally brief but carefully-worded statement on twitter that read: “We are deeply saddened to hear the allegations against Chris Noth. We support the women who have come forward and shared their painful experiences.”
Some fans commented that Noth’s week of woe is a knee-jerk reaction, pointing out the actor hadn’t been charged with anything at the time of writing (and, indeed, when the first allegations came out, the police confirmed there was no active investigation happening at that time). But while there’s definitely an ‘innocent until proven guilty’ aspect to events, others have noted that even in the wake of the #metoo movement, in which many prominent names have been exposed or faced damning accusations against a pattern of behaviour and even assaults, it’s rare to see such consequences take place as quickly as this. Usually productions, advertisers and other interested parties look at revelations and put out vague statements quickly, cautiously distancing themselves but ultimately withholding stronger judgement until the scale and number of the transgressions or crimes make it impossible NOT to take a side. Here, those parties and the speed of their reactions suggest they may well have a clearer or more expansive view of the allegations and their merit. Noth had already faced some controversies in his past and it’s interesting that – as yet – he hasn’t enjoyed any notable or formal messages of support and defense from his co-stars.
Noth, who has now hired lawyers to fight his case, has made a statement that said: “The accusations against me made by individuals I met years, even decades, ago are categorically false. These stories could’ve been from 30 years ago or 30 days ago — no always means no — that is a line I did not cross. The encounters were consensual. It’s difficult not to question the timing of these stories coming out. I don’t know for certain why they are surfacing now, but I do know this: I did not assault these women.”