The story about Harvey Weinstein stands testament to the fact that no ill deed goes unpunished. After years (about three decades, reports suggest) of harassing women employees and actresses, the big Hollywood mogul has finally been called out with more and more popular names coming out with their stories of abuse.
On October 5, The New York Times chronicled the sordid behaviour of the Hollywood producer with actresses, interns, writers, and other women who had worked under him, often asking them for sexual favours in exchange to boost their careers.
Reported bye appeared in a bathrobe and asked if he could give her a massage or she could watch him shower, she recalled in an interview. “How do I get out of the room as fast as possible without alienating Harvey Weinstein?” she said.
Actress Rose McGowan, too, was the focal point of the article. According to the report, McGowan was under duress to reach a settlement with Weinstein after an incident in a hotel room during the Sundance Film Festival. The $100,000 settlement was “not to be construed as an admission”, but intended to “avoid litigation and buy peace,” according to the legal document. While she didn’t speak to the Times, she had been pretty vocal about this, even calling out Ben Affleck’s condemnation of Weinstein’s misconduct.
McGowan is also the fourth woman to level a rape accusation against Weinstein. The New Yorker previously reported on three other rape allegations lodged by “former aspiring actress” Lucia Evans, Italian actress Asia Argento and one anonymous source.
Other women employees such as one of the London assistants, Zelda Perkins, was particularly concerned about his inappropriate behaviour at the office and threatened to go public with the information. This was in 1998 and she was 25 at the time.
The article generated a wave of outrage, with other celebrities coming out and speaking against the producer, the man behind Hollywood movies, including many Oscar and Tony award winning ones such as Shakespeare in Love, Gangs of New York, Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Inglourious Basterds, and many more.
Soon after Times‘ report, Weinstein spoke to Pagesix‘s editor about he would like to sue the publication now.
“What I am saying is that I bear responsibility for my actions, but the reason I am suing is because of the Times’ inability to be honest with me, and their reckless reporting. They told me lies. They made assumptions. The Times had a deal with us that they would tell us about the people they had on the record in the story, so we could respond appropriately, but they didn’t live up to the bargain. The Times editors were so fearful they were going to be scooped by New York Magazine and they would lose the story, that they went ahead and posted the story filled with reckless reporting, and without checking all they had with me and my team.”
Soon after this, Weinstein hired feminist attorney, Lisa Bloom, as his advisor. She went on record to acknowledge that her client had acted inappropriately and possibly even illegally. A day later, she resigned from her position as advisor after new accusations surfaced.
This led to a chain of reaction, with even remaining board of directors at The Weinstein Company, including Harvey Weinstein’s brother, Robert, firing him.
“The directors of The Weinstein Company – Robert Weinstein, Lance Maerov, Richard Koenigsberg and Tarak Ben Ammar – have determined, and have informed Harvey Weinstein, that his employment with The Weinstein Company is terminated, effective immediately,” a statement from the company said.
More Women Speak Up
Top actresses like Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Angelina Jolie spoke up, adding more credibility to the Times‘ exposé. Winslet, in a statement, condemned Weinstein’s behaviour, emphasising on how no woman should face such behaviour ever.
“His behavior is without question disgraceful and appalling and very, very wrong. I had hoped that these kind of stories were just made up rumors, maybe we have all been naïve. And it makes me so angry. There must be ‘no tolerance’ of this degrading, vile treatment of women in ANY workplace anywhere in the world,” she said.
Ronan Farrow with the New Yorker spoke to 13 women who have alleged sexual assault and harassment by movie mogul. According to the report, three women even alleged that Weinstein raped them and forced them to perform or receive oral and vaginal sex.
The New York Times report also put forth Paltrow and Jolie’s experience with Weinstein, which occurred in the 90s.
Paltrow said that she was summoned to his hotel suite, where he placed his hands on her and suggested massages in his bedroom. This was when she was filming for Emma in 1996.
“I was a kid, I was signed up, I was petrified,” she said in an interview. She admits to refusing his advances, and telling her then-boyfriend, Brad Pitt about it. She was warned not to tell anyone else about this. “I thought he was going to fire me,” she said.
Angelina Jolie, too, in an email-interview, said that she too faced faced harassment from Hollywood’s top producer. “I had a bad experience with Weinstein in my youth, and as a result, chose never to work with him again and warn others when they did. This behaviour towards women in any field, any country is unacceptable.”
Model Cara Delevingne, took to Instagram to talk about how Weinstein sexually harassed her after a meeting about a movie part. She wrote that Weinstein had tried to get her to kiss another woman, and then tried to kiss her himself when she wanted to leave.
When I first started to work as an actress, i was working on a film and I received a call from Harvey Weinstein asking if I had slept with any of the women I was seen out with in the media. It was a very odd and uncomfortable call….i answered none of his questions and hurried off the phone but before I hung up, he said to me that If I was gay or decided to be with a woman especially in public that I'd never get the role of a straight woman or make it as an actress in Hollywood. A year or two later, I went to a meeting with him in the lobby of a hotel with a director about an upcoming film. The director left the meeting and Harvey asked me to stay and chat with him. As soon as we were alone he began to brag about all the actresses he had slept with and how he had made their careers and spoke about other inappropriate things of a sexual nature. He then invited me to his room. I quickly declined and asked his assistant if my car was outside. She said it wasn't and wouldn't be for a bit and I should go to his room. At that moment I felt very powerless and scared but didn't want to act that way hoping that I was wrong about the situation. When I arrived I was relieved to find another woman in his room and thought immediately I was safe. He asked us to kiss and she began some sort of advances upon his direction. I swiftly got up and asked him if he knew that I could sing. And I began to sing….i thought it would make the situation better….more professional….like an audition….i was so nervous. After singing I said again that I had to leave. He walked me to the door and stood in front of it and tried to kiss me on the lips. I stopped him and managed to get out of the room. I still got the part for the film and always thought that he gave it to me because of what happened. Since then I felt awful that I did the movie. I felt like I didn't deserve the part. I was so hesitant about speaking out….I didn't want to hurt his family. I felt guilty as if I did something wrong. I was also terrified that this sort of thing had happened to so many women I know but no one had said anything because of fear.
Actress Kate Beckinsale, too, took to Instagram to recall when she met with the Hollywood producer at the Savoy Hotel when she was 17 years old. She assumed it would be a business discussion in a conference room, but she was then sent up to a hotel room, with Weinstein greeting her in his bathrobe. Worst part is, she fears Weinstein has probably forgotten the incident.
I was called to meet Harvey Weinstein at the Savoy Hotel when I was 17. I assumed it would be in a conference room which was very common.When I arrived ,reception told me to go to his room . He opened the door in his bathrobe . I was incredibly naive and young and it did not cross my mind that this older ,unattractive man would expect me to have any sexual interest in him .After declining alcohol and announcing that I had school in the morning I left ,uneasy but unscathed.A few years later he asked me if he had tried anything with me in that first meeting .I realized he couldn't remember if he had assaulted me or not .I had what I thought were boundaries – I said no to him professionally many times over the years-some of which ended up with him screaming at me calling me a cunt and making threats, some of which made him laughingly tell people oh "Kate lives to say no to me ." It speaks to the status quo in this business that I was aware that standing up for myself and saying no to things,while it did allow me to feel uncompromised in myself,undoubtedly harmed my career and was never something I felt supported by anyone other than my family.I would like to applaud the women who have come forward , and to pledge that we can from this create a new paradigm where producers,managers,executives and assistants and everyone who has in the past shrugged and said " well, that's just Harvey /Mr X/insert name here " will realize that we in numbers can affect real change.For every moment like this there have been thousands where a vulnerable person has confided outrageous unprofessional behavior and found they have no recourse, due to an atmosphere of fear that it seems almost everyone has been living in .I had a male friend who, based on my experience,warned a young actress who said she was going to dinner with Harvey to be careful. He received a phone call the next day saying he would never work in another Miramax film ;the girl was already sleeping with Harvey and had told him that my friend had warned her off.Let's stop allowing our young women to be sexual cannon fodder,and let's remember that Harvey is an emblem of a system that is sick,and that we have work to do.
Emma Thompson told BBC Two’s Newsnight programme she found him to be a “bully” when his company Miramax owned the rights to her film Nanny McPhee.
Emma Thompson tells us the Harvey Weinstein allegations are just the tip of the iceberg of a wider and systemic problem in Hollywood pic.twitter.com/VDxswrUP5Z
— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) October 12, 2017
She said she did not know about the allegations of sexual impropriety but added: “They don’t surprise me at all and they’re endemic to the system anyway. I don’t think you can describe him as a sex addict. He’s a predator. That’s different.”
Thompson said there are “many” others like him in Hollywood. “Maybe not to that degree. Do they have to all be as bad as him to make it count?”
Jane Fonda told the BBC‘s Hardtalk programme that his alleged victims did not come forth sooner “because he’s powerful, because they’re scared”.
— Christiane Amanpour (@camanpour) October 12, 2017
“Most of these women were in their 20s when it happened. Vulnerable. Afraid that if they say anything or do anything that it’ll ruin their career,” she said.
She added that she wished she had been “braver” by going to the authorities when she first heard the allegations “about a year ago”.
What The Men Said
Ben Affleck was one of the first men to condemn Weinstein’s behaviour, a person whom he worked with in Good Will Hunting. Affleck posted a message to social media, saying that the “allegations of assault” against Weinstein make him “sick,” and that he was “saddened and angry that a man who I worked with used his position of power to intimidate, sexually harass and manipulate many women over decades.”
This didn’t last, after McGowan and several other women accused Affleck of himself being a predator like Weinstein. Soon after he released the statement, McGowan accused him of lying on Twitter. One Tree Hill actress Hilarie Burton, too opened up about how Affleck groped her on MTV’s Total Request Live, back in 2008. The whole incident resurfaced when a Twitter user reminded the public about that incident and how there’s a video of it too.
Girls. I’m so impressed with you brave ones. I had to laugh back then so I wouldn’t cry. Sending love.
— Hilarie Burton (@HilarieBurton) October 11, 2017
Affleck has apologised.
Another alleged victim, Annamarie Tendler, wife of comedian John Mulaney, accused the actor of groping her at a Golden Globes party in 2014.
I would also love to get an apology from Ben Affleck who grabbed my ass at a Golden Globes party in 2014.
— Annamarie Tendler (@amtendler) October 11, 2017
A report in the Vulture says that The New York Times, which broke the Harvey Weinstein story, had earlier cut a 2004 report by a journalist Sharon Waxman, under pressure from Damon, Russell Crowe and other Hollywood stars. Sharon, who started The Wrap, was earlier working with The NYT, and had travelled to Europe to uncover the series of sexual harassments and assaults committed allegedly by Weinstein. She says, writing in The Wrap,
“The story I reported never ran.
After intense pressure from Weinstein, which included having Matt Damon and Russell Crowe call me directly to vouch for Lombardo and unknown discussions well above my head at the Times, the story was gutted.
I was told at the time that Weinstein had visited the newsroom in person to make his displeasure known. I knew he was a major advertiser in the Times, and that he was a powerful person overall.”
When contacted, Damon denied the allegations. Speaking to Deadline, Damon admits that he is “sick to his stomach” and that there is “great fear” around.
“Look, even before I was famous, I didn’t abide this kind of behavior. But now, as the father of four daughters, this is the kind of sexual predation that keeps me up at night. We know this stuff goes on in the world. I did five or six movies with Harvey. I never saw this. I think a lot of actors have come out and said, everybody’s saying we all knew. That’s not true. This type of predation happens behind closed doors and out of public view. If there was ever an event that I was at and Harvey was doing this kind of thing and I didn’t see it, then I am so deeply sorry, because I would have stopped it. And I will peel my eyes back now, farther than I ever have, to look for this type of behavior. Because we know that it happens. I feel horrible for these women and it’s wonderful they have this incredible courage and are standing up now.”
In a statement posted on Facebook, DiCaprio said that there is no excuse for sexual harassment or sexual assault.
George Clooney slammed Weinstein on Monday saying that the producer’s behaviour was “indefensible” and “disturbing on a whole lot of levels.”
In an interview with the Daily Beast that though he never saw any of the alleged sexual acts in the 20 years he has known Weinstein.
“Harvey’s admitted to it, and it’s indefensible. I’ve known Harvey for 20 years. He gave me my first big break as an actor in films on From Dusk Till Dawn, he gave me my first big break as a director with Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. We’ve had dinners, we’ve been on location together, we’ve had arguments. But I can tell you that I’ve never seen any of this behaviour—ever.”
— Ryan Gosling (@RyanGosling) October 12, 2017
Nobody Knew About Weinstein?
It’s hard to believe the actors admitting ignorance over Weinstein’s behaviour, especially considering how there had been numerous clues dropped in TV shows and movies about a character eerily similar to the producer.
The one that stands out would have to be Seth MacFarlane’s segment at the Oscars in 2013. The clip has since gone viral, and appears to be a massive hint on Weinstein’s predatory behaviour.
MacFarlane and actress Emma Stone revealed the Best Supporting Actress nominations that year in a ceremony leading up to the awards show. “Congratulations, you five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein,” MacFarlane said.
He even took to Twitter with a statement, recounting how he just had to call out Weinstein’s behaviour on stage.
— Seth MacFarlane (@SethMacFarlane) October 11, 2017
TV shows like 30 Rock and Entourage hinted at Weinstein’s behaviour several times in the show, but it went unnoticed.
In 30 Rock‘s season seven’s tenth episode the character Jenna Marone (played by Jane Krakowski) says: “Look, I get it. I know how former lovers can have a hold of you long after they’re gone. In some ways, I’m still pinned under a passed-out Harvey Weinstein and it’s Thanksgiving.”
In Entourage, there was a severely aggressive character named Harvey Weingard, supposedly based on Weinstein. Played by Maury Chaykin, the character is seen screaming and hurling expletives at those whom he considers beneath him.
McGowan has had her Twitter account suspended, especially considering she had been vociferously protesting against Weinstein and Affleck’s behaviour. Twitter’s response to suspending her account was that she had shared a phone number on the social media platform, hence had to be suspended.
This has sparked off an outrage on social media, with #WomenBoycottTwitter starting at midnight on October 13. A number of high-profile celebrities have since joined in. Chrissy Teigen, John Cusack, Anna Paquin and McGowan’s Charmed co-star Alyssa Milano will join other Twitter users in solidarity with McGowan and those who have experienced harassment online.
Weinstein’s wife, Georgina Chapman, has decided to distance herself amid these allegations. While he initially did say that she was by his side, the mounting allegations of sexual assault and harassment and prompted her to side otherwise.
In a statement, she said:
“My heart breaks for all the women who have suffered tremendous pain because of these unforgivable actions. I have chosen to leave my husband. Caring for my young children is my first priority and I ask the media for privacy at this time.”
The US and British police have launched investigations into sexual assault allegations. The New York Police Department is looking into an allegation dating from 2004 and is reviewing whether there are any additional complaints. London’s Met Police received an allegation of sexual assault in the London area in the 1980s.
As of October 13, a British actress named Sophie Dix alleges that Weinstein performed an unwelcome sexual act in her presence after she was invited up his room at the Savoy hotel “to watch some rushes”. Speaking to The Guardian, she said that she had just been cast in a new film with Colin Firth in 1990. Invited to his hotel room, she naively went but things changed when he pushed her on the bed with him “tugging at her clothes”. She was 22 at the time.
Currently a screenwriter, Dix feels talking about it now would make a difference.
“I was very, very vocal about it at the time. I didn’t want to own it. I wanted people to take it away from me. But I was met with a wall of silence. People who were involved in the film were great, my friends and my family were amazing and very compassionate, but people in the industry didn’t want to know about it, they didn’t want to hear.”
Feature Image: Quartz