'I had no idea': Baldwin distances himself from Toback

Saturday Night Live star Alec Baldwin has broken his silence on disgraced screenwriter James Toback.

The high-profile actor remained unusually quiet last week after more than 200 women came forward to accuse his former collaborator of sexual harassment. Instead, the normally outspoken Emmy award-winner slammed an American film critic for questioning his silence, calling her a "dishonest, awful writer".

Baldwin has now attempted a public mea culpa, telling the LA Times- the paper that first reported on the Toback scandal - that he had "no idea" about the claims against his former colleague. The pair worked together on a 2013 documentary called Seduced and Abandoned.

"I don't know that Jimmy has done anything criminal," he said. "It sounds like many people are saying that he has. That he has assaulted them. If that's true, that's news to me. I never had any idea that Jimmy's appetites took him in that direction. I had no idea."

The comedian said he didn't issue a statement about Toback because he didn't want to look like he was interested in a "knee-jerk" reaction to save his own career. However, he admitted he felt terrible and suspected Hollywood will never be the same again off the back of this and the Weinstein scandal.

"You will almost never see an unchaperoned casting session again," he said. "Ever. Everybody's going to want to have somebody in the room with them to make sure nothing questionable is going to happen."

The SNL star confirmed he'd spoken to Toback a "couple of times" since the media first published the allegations.

"He's obviously crushed by all of this," he said. "I did call him, and I think he understands how people are. There's not much people can do for him now."

Baldwin also used the interview as an opportunity to lash out at Donald Trump. He said while people were rightly outraged by Hollywood's alleged sexual predators, hewas worried the media storm has been diverting attention away from what the US President has said and done.

"Trump is a sexual predator," he said. "On the record, there's all kinds of evidence that Trump behaved this way, and he's the president of the United States... that being just one of the things that is horrifying people about Trump, his opinions, his behaviour, his methodology and there's nothing you can do about that. You cannot touch him."

This story 'I had no idea': Baldwin distances himself from Toback first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.