After Netflix Firing, The Fall Of The House Of Usher's Frank Langella Calls Out 'Cancel Culture' In Telling His Side Of The Story

Frank Langella in The Trial of the Chicago 7
(Image credit: Netflix)

The Fall of the House of Usher is the next series coming to Netflix from Mike Flanagan of The Haunting of Hill House and Midnight Mass fame, but the project lost its leading man part way through production when Frank Langella was fired. When first announced back in April, reports indicated that he was fired after an investigation into allegations of misconduct on set. Now, weeks later, the actor has spoken out, including calling out “cancel culture.”

Frank Langella didn’t mince words in his explanation of his side of the story, which he shared via a guest column on Deadline. The column opens with “I have been canceled” and refers to an “unanticipated sense of grave danger” in the “increasing madness” in the entertainment industry. With few details originally available about what actually happened that led to his firing, Langella opened up with his side of the story.

According to his version of events, he was fired on April 14 for what Netflix deemed “unacceptable behavior on set” for The Fall of the House of Usher, where he was starring in the lead role as Roderick Usher. He deemed it a “glorious role” that he expected to be his “last hurrah.” The actor then shared the incident that ultimately resulted in his firing. 

He was performing a love scene with the actress playing his wife back in late March, although the show has not confirmed which member of the expansive cast is playing that character. According to the actor, they were both fully clothed, with him seated and her standing in front of him. Langella claims that after the director called cut, his co-star said that he touched her leg in a move that was not part of the blocking determined by the intimacy coordinator.

Frank Langella wrote that he was asked not to follow when she, the director, and the intimacy coordinator walked off, and learned that they were wrapped for the day after about an hour. It was after this that the investigation began, as the actor explained in his own words: 

Approximately one week later, Human Resources asked to speak to me by phone. ‘Before the love scene began on March 25,’ said the questioner, ‘our intimacy coordinator suggested where you both should put your hands. It has been brought to our attention that you said, ‘This is absurd!’ ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘I did. And I still think so.’ It was a love scene on camera. Legislating the placement of hands, to my mind, is ludicrous. It undermines instinct and spontaneity. Toward the end of our conversation, she suggested that I not contact the young lady, the intimacy coordinator, or anyone else in the company. ‘We don’t want to risk retaliation,’ she said. When I mentioned that it was certainly not my intention to… she cut me off politely and said: ‘Intention is not our concern. Netflix deals only with impact.’

Bringing in intimacy coordinators for love scenes has become more and more common in the entertainment industry over recent years, with shows such as Outlander and Bridgerton – both well known for sex scenes, including some challenging ones – using them. Actors including Kerry Washington, Aidy Bryant, and Issa Rae have spoken up in favor of intimacy coordinators, while others like Shailene Woodley are not fans. Langella clearly is not a fan. 

Frank Langella also faced allegations of inappropriate jokes, comments, and physical contact, which he addressed in his column by saying that when “you are the leading actor, it requires, in my opinion, that you set an example by keeping the atmosphere light and friendly.” After what he described as a “demonstrably false” rumor beginning to circulate online about his behavior on set before a corrected version was released a day later, he was fired. 

He stated that he didn’t receive a hearing with Netflix, was denied his request to meet “one-on-one with the actress,” his emails and calls were no longer answered by the producer and directors, and a press release went out before he or his representatives could comment. The actor ultimately shared his feelings about the firing:

I cannot speak to the intentions of my accuser or Netflix, but the impact on me has been incalculable. I lost a thrilling part, the chance at future earnings, and perhaps face a stretch of unemployment. Netflix terminated me after three months of work with only three weeks left to shoot, and I have as yet to be fully remunerated for my services. Most importantly, my reputation has been tarnished. These indignities are, to my mind, the real definition of unacceptable behavior. Cancel culture is the antithesis of democracy. It inhibits conversation and debate. It limits our ability to listen, mediate, and exchange opposing views. Most tragically, it annihilates moral judgment.

At the time of writing, nobody from Netflix nor The Fall of the House of Usher has publicly commented on Frank Langella’s column reporting his side of the story, and lamenting what he considers to be a firing due to “cancel culture.” The show is moving forward, with The Resident’s Bruce Greenwood stepping in as the new leading man to play Roderick Usher. House of Usher marks Greenwood’s fourth collaboration with Mike Flanagan. The plan, as reported at the time of Langella’s firing, was to reshoot all of his scenes with his replacement. 

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.