Emile Hirsch reflects on 2015 Sundance assault

Emile Hirsch is showing regret and embarrassment over the 2015 incident in which he physically assaulted a female studio exec.

Last Updated on June 22, 2023

Emile hirsch

It didn’t take all that long for Emile Hirsch to establish himself as one of the most competent young actors in Hollywood. Breaking through with The Girl Next Door before moving on to a remarkable lead in Into the Wild, the vastly underappreciated Speed Racer, a wonderful supporting turn in Milk, and playing Mario (we think…) in Prince Avalanche. And then the 2015 Sundance Film Festival rolled around…

Emile Hirsch was at Sundance with his movie Ten Thousand Saints – but proved to be anything but one, physically assaulting then-Paramount executive Dani Bernfeld (she’s now president of creative at Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s Artists Equity) and later pleading guilty to aggravated assault, spending just over two weeks in prison, paying nearly $5,000 to his victim and entering rehab. The rehab stems from a serious alcohol problem Hirsch had at the time, which he says played a significant role in the event. “It was scary because it was so wrapped up in binge drinking…I had no memory of what happened. So I’m reading the stuff the next day, like, ‘What?’ I was dumbfounded. Horrified. It’s like if you drink too much and then you wake up and you’ve done this horrible thing.” Of note, Emile Hirsch also said that when he arrived in Hollywood in the early 2000s, he was “wary of the ‘dark underbelly” due to stories like those related to River Phoenix, who overdosed in 1993. “I felt like I had to learn from him in any way I could. Just out of respect…”

Speaking with The Independent, Emile Hirsch said he has nothing but regret over the situation. “It’s something that should have just never happened. Sometimes people – not everybody – have these moments where you let yourself down or you let other people down. And you can say you’re sorry and mean it and move forward, and try to be the best parent and make a living for yourself and still love your art and still love your family and your friends. And that’s sort of what I’ve chosen to do. I think… I hope that I can be a better person as well…It was the worst moment of my whole life by far. The lowest. In the most public place possible. At the most famous film festival in America, you know?”

Emile Hirsch’s movie career slowed down considerably in the years after, but has still kept busy enough, albeit in far less prolific roles. He notably appeared in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood as Jay Sebring, the Hollywood hair stylist who was murdered by the Manson Family. However, in QT’s alternate history, he – and the others on Cielo Drive – was spared…not unlike Hirsch’s career itself, it would seem.

Do you think Emile Hirsch has been redeemed or will he never fully recover from the assault? Let us know in the comments section below.

Source: The Independent

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Mathew is an East Coast-based writer and film aficionado who has been working with JoBlo.com periodically since 2006. When he’s not writing, you can find him on Letterboxd or at a local brewery. If he had the time, he would host the most exhaustive The Wonder Years rewatch podcast in the universe.