LOS ANGELES (CN) — Actor-director Vincent Gallo sued a Japanese journalist for privacy invasion, claiming he secretly recorded their private conversation and published embarrassing excerpts from it.
Gallo, 55, who appeared in “Goodfellas” and numerous other films, is known for his work in independent film, including the cult hit “Buffalo ’66,” which he wrote, directed and starred in. It is said to be the highest-grossing independent film ever shown in Japan.
In the May 2 superior court complaint, Gallo describes himself as “an audacious artist intent on provoking, challenging and, at times, shocking his audiences.” He says he has developed a “sensationalized” off-camera character that he has used for interviews.
In 2003, he agreed to an interview with Hikari Takano, who writes for a Japanese men’s motorcycling and lifestyle magazine called “Free & Easy.” Takano sought the interview in connection with Gallo’s 2003 motorcycle-themed movie “The Brown Bunny.”
Gallo says his vintage Porsche broke down near Hollywood in early December while on his way to a photo shoot for the article. He called Takano to pick him up, and says that while they waited for a tow truck, Takano secretly recorded their conversation, which included “confidential” and “private material.”
Some of that material included “mocking Francis Ford Coppola’s weight and fondness of food (at a time when Mr. Gallo was playing the lead in one of his films.)” (Parentheses in complaint.)
In his “audacious persona,” Gallo says, he also “made comments about various industry professionals, including Spike Jones, Sofia & Francis Ford Coppola, and Eric and Julia Roberts.”
Takano also recorded their subsequent Dec. 14 telephone interview, which Gallo acknowledges was “on the record.”
Takano published both recordings on his website www.hikaritakano.com, Gallo says.
Gallo says he does not mind if reporters record interviews for “reference purposes only,” but that Takano did so for his “own financial gain.”
“The taping and subsequent broadcast of the private conversation and interview between Mr. Gallo and Mr. Takano were highly objectionable to Mr. Gallo in that 1) it was done without his consent to be taped; and 2) was being broadcast in its entirety, and not in connection with the Free & Easy magazine article.”
He says Takano removed the audio recordings from the website and agreed not to broadcast them again in return for not being sued.
But in 2015, Gallo says, he learned the recordings had been reposted in their entirety on Takano’s website, a for-profit site featuring prominent sponsors such as Sony and Oakley.
Gallo said he demanded they be taken off the website, but Takano refused.
Gallo demands damages for invasion of privacy, violation of California common law right to publicity and civil remedy under California penal code.
“Defendant knew, or should have known, that plaintiff had a reasonable expectation of privacy and that identifying and publishing the unauthorized recorded private conversation with plaintiff without plaintiff’s knowledge or consent constituted publication of private facts in violation of plaintiff’s right to privacy,” Gallo said in the complaint. “In doing the acts as alleged … defendant acted with actual malice and constitutional malice, that is, he acted intentionally, or with conscious disregard for plaintiff’s right of privacy.”
Gallo’s attorney Joseph Costa did not immediately return a phone call Wednesday.
Gallo seeks punitive damages.
Costa is with Costa Besser & Childress, in Pacific Palisades.
Editor’s Note: The original version of this article incorrectly reported that Hikari Takano’s website did not feature any interviews with Vincent Gallo on Thursday morning. The file remains live under an “audio interviews” tab. Courthouse News regrets the error.
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