The Sundance Film Festival may have ended a few weeks ago, but we will continue to hear about it for the rest of the year. Most of this chatter will probably be about the indie movies that wound up being picked up for distribution, but there is also apparently a criminal investigation that will also be sharing headline space. According to reports, Emile Hirsch attacked a Paramount Pictures executive during the festival, and he has now been charged with assault as a result.
According to Variety, the incident at the heart of this story occurred on Sunday, January 25th at the Tao nightclub in Park City, Utah. Emile Hirsch and Dani Bernfeld - the vice president of digital entertainment for Paramount - were both in attendance that night, and allegedly got into a confrontation. Court documents say that the actor first approached Bernfeld at about 3:15am, and appeared to be intoxicated. Hirsch then asked the executive why she looked "so tough," and she shot back at him that he is a "rich kid" who shouldn't be in attendance at the Sundance Film Festival.
It was after this verbal spat that Hirsch allegedly "grabbed" Bernfield, but she was able to push him away, and she then left with some friends. It was shortly after that when Hirsch "came up to Bernfeld from behind and wrapped his arm around her to put her in a chokehold." This action was reportedly followed by the Speed Racer star pulling her across on table and down to the floor. He then pinned her and put his hands around her neck. The Paramount executive claims that she may have momentarily blacked out, and Hirsch apparently kept choking her until he was pulled off of her by two bystanders.
As a result of this incident, Emile Hirsch is being charged with aggravated assault - which is a third degree felony. As Variety notes, if he is found guilty he may face as many as five years in prison. He was first arrested the morning after the alleged assault, and has a court date scheduled for March 16th.
Emile Hirsch was in attendance at the Sundance Film Festival to help promote Ten Thousand Saints, a new musical dramedy from the directing team of Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini. The movie is a period piece set in the 1980s about a teen girl (Hailee Steinfeld) who moves from Vermont to New York City's East Village with her father. The film has a pretty impressive cast that includes Ethan Hawke, Asa Butterfield, Emily Mortimer and Julianne Nicholson. Screen Media Film has signed on to distribute, but a release date has not yet been announced.
On the big screen, Hirsch was last seen in Peter Berg's Lone Survivor, and starred opposite Holliday Grainger in the Lifetime miniseries Bonnie and Clyde.