Aussie billionaire James Packer has found himself embroiled in a Hollywood sex scandal after texts he sent to his former girlfriend, a young British actress, were leaked.
The drama kicked off in September 2013, when Packer and his business partner Brett Ratner were in the middle of finalising a $450 million film deal between their company RatPac Entertainment and Warner Bros.
Towards the end of September in that same year, Packer texted his former girlfriend, British actress Charlotte Kirk. She was 21 at the time.
“I have the opportunity of a lifetime for u,” Packer wrote, in a message sent just after midnight on September 21, 2013 — one of the hundreds obtained by the Hollywood Reporter .
“Come to (the Hotel) Bel air now. U will never be able to pay me.”
Packer promised Kirk a meeting with “the most important man you can meet”. It was Warner Bros CEO Kevin Tsujihara.
Kirk, who had been trying for years to make it in Hollywood, didn’t hesitate and headed to the hotel.
Hours later, Kirk texted Packer.
“His (sic) not very nice! Very pushy!! He just wants to f**k nothing else does not even want To say anything!” she wrote.
“U OK?” Packer replied, “Be cool.”
According to texts, Packer and Kirk met in November 2012 when she was 20 and he was 45. Ratner had introduced them and the pair dated briefly.
Over the next few years, according to the hundreds of text messages obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Kirk and the Warner Bros chairman were involved in a sexual relationship in exchange for furthering the British actress’ career.
“You’re very busy I know but when we were in that motel having sex u said u would help me and when u just ignore me like you’re doing now it makes me feel used,” Kirk wrote to Tsujihara in a text dated March 3, 2015.
“Are u going to help me like u said u would?”
Tsujihara responded: “Sorry you feel that way. Richard will be reaching out to u tonight.”
Since that fateful meeting in 2013, a three year struggle between Kirk and the men ensued.
Kirk only managed to get two small appearances in Warner Bros. films when she worked on How To Be Single in 2016 and on Ocean’s 8 in 2018.
Texts between the actress and Ratner, Packer and Tsujihara showed she was unhappy with her lack of casting, becoming increasingly agitated at their apparent disinterest.
At one point, Kirk was even accused of attempted extortion by Ratner and on another occasion the businessman engaged his lawyer to try and organise a settlement with the young actress.
The conversation between Packer and Kirk also became heated on numerous occasions over the years.
“Putting me in one of your many movies shouldn’t be a big deal,” Kirk texted Packer on October 18, 2014.
“I did help u out with Kevin which was hard for me but I did it for you.”
She sent another text on the same day, asking for a role in a movie.
“I didn’t expect to be part of a business deal so all I’m asking is u just help me with a couple of roles it’s not big deal and then we’ll just put this all behind us,” she wrote.
Packer strongly denied forcing Kirk to do anything in his response and later accused the actress of trying to “blackmail” him “over a lie”.
Three days later, Packer agreed to meet with Kirk in Los Angeles to cool things down.
“Don’t push me. U’ll regret it,” Packer wrote.
“James if you’re trying to make me worry about my safety you’ll be forcing me to give this to my attorneys,” she responded.
“Can’t wait tough girl,” Packer bit back. “Get back in your box or let’s fight. Lying and blackmail are a bad start…tough lying girl.”
Kirk said she was only considering lawyers because she felt like Packer had made a “threat on my life”.
“This is all getting out of hand. I’m just asking you to do the right thing and help me. Let’s just meet and resolve this amicably, OK?” she wrote.
“I’ll meet you but get back in your box,” he responded.
In a statement yesterday, Packer confirmed he and Kirk had dated briefly in 2013.
“We had a brief relationship and I tried to help her career, I genuinely only ever had good intentions for Charlotte,” Packer said.
Neither Packer nor Ratner are accused of any wrongdoing.
The published messages suggest a quid pro quo sexual relationship between the aspiring actress and the Warner Bros head and that Tsujihara allegedly made promises to introduce her to influential executives and said she’d be considered for roles in movies and television.
The messages also suggest Kirk was determined to hold Tsujihara, Packer and Ratner to the promises she believed had been made.
The story comes two days after AT&T-owned WarnerMedia announced an expanded role for Tsujihara, who is already one of Hollywood’s most powerful executives.
WarnerMedia representatives said a prior investigation did not find impropriety in Kirk’s casting in films like Ocean’s 8.
“Whenever we receive new allegations, it is our standard practice to conduct an appropriate investigation,” WarnerMedia said in a statement on Wednesday.
“And that is what we will do here.”
Asked about the allegations, a lawyer for Tsujihara said: “Mr Tsujihara did not have a direct role in the actress being cast in any movie.”
In her full statement, Kirk denied having any relationship with Tsujihara or any wrongdoing from Packer or Ratner.
“I emphatically deny any inappropriate behaviour on the part of Brett Ratner, James Packer, and Kevin Tsujihara, and I have no claims against any of them,” Kirk said.
“I confirm that I was in a romantic relationship with James Packer in the summer of 2013 and that I was treated with respect by Mr Packer, and I have no issues with him or claims against him.
“I further confirm that when the relationship ended I sought the advice of Mr Tsujihara whom I had been introduced to by Mr Packer. Mr Tsujihara never promised me anything.
“I also confirm that Brett Ratner helped me out of friendship to assist me in getting auditions and trying to help me find an agent, and I have no issues with him or claims against him. I deny that there was any legal settlement or agreement entered into between myself and Brett Ratner in 2016.”
Ratner, who bought out Packer’s share in RatPac in 2017, was accused in the same year of sexual misconduct by multiple women, which he has denied.
But this led to Warner Bros cutting ties with Ratner, as the studio waited for a co-financing deal to expire in March 2018.
Ratner’s lawyer Martin Singer said in statement: “Brett Ratner did nothing wrong and had the best intentions. While he offered to help get Ms Kirk a limited number of auditions, he consistently told her that she would have to earn any job herself.”