David Schwimmer has adapted a series of six Israeli anti-sexual harassment in the workplace videos for U.S. audiences.
Yes, David Schwimmer, star of Friends and The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, has released a series of anti-sexual harassment videos.
And, you know what? They're great.
According to Cosmopolitan, Israeli-American director Sigal Avin released a series of five films in December 2016. They're based on real life stories of sexual harassment (including one an experience she herself had) in Israel.
"I realized that I really wanted to see what sexual harassment was instead of hearing about it and reading about it all the time," Avin told Cosmo. "There was nothing on it, everything was much more violent, or unreal, but there was nothing that showed the gray area of sexual harassment."
In January, realizing the United States could also benefit from the series, she approached her friend Schwimmer about helping her to adapt it.
Together, along with Mazdack Rassi (co-founder and creative director of Milk Studios in New York,) Avin and Schwimmer enlisted actors Cynthia Nixon, Emmy Rossum, and Cristela Alonzo to shoot six films—four adapted from the original series and two new stories—over the course of one weekend.
Each of the six stories—'The Coworker,' 'The Actor,' 'The Boss,' 'The Doctor,' 'The Photographer,' and 'The Politician'—tells a story a lot of women can relate to.
"As recently as last year, I was told that I had a part in a big film if I would come into the director’s office in a bikini," Rossum said in another interview with Cosmopolitan.
"And I asked if I could read the script to see if the character was in a bikini at any point in the film. And when I read the script the answer was no, the character was not in a bikini."
In the process of making the shorts, Schwimmer, who stars in 'The Boss,' learned a lot.
"I grew up with stories of sexual harassment from my mom," Schwimmer told Cosmo.
"Every woman in my family, in my life, has been harassed, except my daughter, thank God, who’s only six. But my mom was one of four women in a class of 400 lawyers when she was going to law school. And then she was a young woman lawyer in California, in the ‘70s and the ‘80s and the ‘90s. Countless stories of harassment."
In fact, Schwimmer says he learned more about the harassment the women in his life have faced after showing them the films.
He says after watching 'The Doctor,' his mother said, "Did I ever tell you about the time I was harassed by my doctor?" She told him his sister was harassed by a doctor when she was a young woman as well.
"The whole purpose of this is to encourage people and to give them the courage to speak out if they’re a victim themselves of harassment, or if they witness or are aware of sexual harassment," Schwimmer explained.
"The reality [is that] this kind of harassment takes place in the workplace, in a professional environment. And that means it’s about power. The problem is that people don’t step forward or say something if they’re witnessing it because of fear of retaliation. The more you’re surrounded by other people who agree and see that something is wrong, the easier it is for someone to step forward. You feel like you have an army behind you."
And the response so far has been thought-provoking.
"I think it’s so important to talk about these kinds of things," Rossum added. "A lot of times if you are put in situations like this, you try to justify it or explain it, and you think, was it what I was wearing that made it happen, was it something I said or did, did I give off a vibe that I wanted that?"
What the films show brilliantly is that the problem is often insidious.
"Sexual harassment can be very subtle," Rossum said. "It can be just bringing up a sexual topic where it’s not intended."
"What a lot of men and good friends have said is that in watching these, you see how easy it is to cross the line," said Avin. "A lot of men in Israel were saying they went to sleep that night going through their history, asking themselves, 'When exactly did I do this and when exactly did I do that?'"
Which is exactly what needs to happen.
The series, called #ThatsHarassment, launched today. You can watch the full series, which can be viewed in any order, .