Cameron Boyce was forced to kiss an underage actress despite his prolonged protests, and it was two of the film’s backers — who were the actress’ parents — that made it happen, a movie director alleged.
Boyce, who was beloved for his acting and philanthropic work, died in 2019 from an epileptic seizure.
One of the last films he worked on was “Runt,” which was released in 2020. Recently the film’s director William Coakley filed a suit against the film’s backers — Harvey and Chrystanthi Berger.
Coakley represented himself in filing the suit in a New York court. Harvey Berger did not respond in time for this report.
Coakley alleged that Boyce, who was known for his role on the Disney show Jessie, was cast in the film. But, troubles started from the early days.
Boyce said the Bergers tried to force him Boyce to use his social media to force the film, specifically co-star Nicole Berger, according to the filing obtained by Radar. Nicole is the couple’s daughter. But Boyce refused the demands.
Boyce also learned his co-star was 14-years-old and he expressed concerns about performing sexual and violent scenes with her, Coakley stated.
One of the scenes included a mouth-to-mouth kiss.
Boyce refused to associate with Nicole Berger on the set and Chrystanthi Berger then created a hostile environment for other women who spent time with Boyce, the filing noted. That included insults and slurs.
The Disney star, who was over 18 years old at filming, protested the kiss and Coakley decided to change the scene into a hug. But soon after it was filmed, Chrystanthi Berger confronted the director to demand a reshoot where there would be a kiss.
“Chrystanthi Berger explained that this filmed kiss was to be Nicole’s first real-life mouth-to-mouth kiss, she had been preparing it for months and was distraught she did not get to kiss Mr. Boyce on screen,” the filing read.
Both Berger parents then pressured the producers to do the reshoot, to which they agreed, the filing stated. The producers even held up production until the scene was reshot.
Boyce was upset with the decision but did not want to be blamed for the shoot being shut down. The suit states Boyce had “no choice” but to comply with the demands, which he protested on moral and personal grounds.
Editing of the film showed problems and Coakley and Boyce both wanted weeks more of production to fix the film, the filing read. However, the Bergers were hesitant to fiancé the production because of Boyce’s refusal to promote Nicole on social media.
While the film was in post-production, Boyce died.
Coakley said he constantly told the Bergers about Boyce’s issues with the film after his death. Though, the suit stated, the Bergers disregarded the concerns and moved forward with distributing the film.
Coakley later wanted to release a director’s statement that the film was not was he envisioned. The Bergers didn’t want the statement and the sides entered negotiations, but no deal could be reached. Coakley later released the statement.
The statement did not include the Bergers or the allegations of misconduct. However, the groups signed non-disclosure agreements when the film started production. Coakley now contends that the NDA is too wide in its scope and he didn’t violate it as he didn’t name the Bergers or the allegations.
He is now asking a judge to rule that the NDA is unenforceable due to that broad scope and that it can no longer prevent him from reporting the misconduct to the authorities.