Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein ─ the 65-year-old film executive who co-founded studios Miramax and The Weinstein Company and has brought us such films as Pulp Fiction (1994), Gangs of New York (2002) and the most recent Django Unchained (2012) ─ is in the centre of a sexual harassment and assault scandal that's rocked all of the American film industry since it surfaced.
It all started when The New York Times ran an exposé on Weinstein's alleged sexual misdeeds with a number of women, including Double Jeopardy actor and activist Ashley Judd. This was soon followed by a report in the The New Yorker, in which several other actors and employees of Weinstein's went on record with their allegations of sexual assault and harassment. Soon, The Times published a second report, in which high-profile actors like Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow also spoke out against Weinstein.
Actor Ashley Judd told the Times about a 20-year old incident at a Beverly Hills hotel:
"Two decades ago, the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein invited Ashley Judd to the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel for what the young actress expected to be a business breakfast meeting. Instead, he had her sent up to his room, where he 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?' Ms. Judd said she remembers thinking... To get out of the room, she said, she quipped that if Mr. Weinstein wanted to touch her, she would first have to win an Oscar in one of his movies. She recalled feeling “panicky, trapped”..."
Gwyneth Paltrow told the Times that when she was cast in Emma as a 22-year-old actor just starting out, Weinstein had made sexual advances towards her:
"Before shooting began, he summoned her to his suite at the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel for a work meeting that... ended with Mr. Weinstein placing his hands on her and suggesting they head to the bedroom for massages, she said.
"She refused his advances, she said, and confided in Brad Pitt, her boyfriend at the time. Mr. Pitt confronted Mr. Weinstein, and soon after, the producer warned her not to tell anyone else about his come-on. “I thought he was going to fire me,” she said.
Angelina Jolie shared a similar story:
"Angelina Jolie, who said that during the release of “Playing by Heart” in the late 1990s, he made unwanted advances on her in a hotel room, which she rejected.
“I had a bad experience with Harvey Weinstein in my youth, and as a result, chose never to work with him again and warn others when they did,” Ms. Jolie said in an email. “This behavior towards women in any field, any country is unacceptable.”
Model/actor Cara Delevingne posted her statement on Instagram:
Read the full list of allegations here.
Who's condemning him in Hollywood?
On the basis of these reports, many Hollywood actors have condemned the industry veteran for his alleged behaviour.
Meryl Streep, to the Huffington Post. An excerpt:
"The disgraceful news about Harvey Weinstein has appalled those of us whose work he championed, and those whose good and worthy causes he supported. The intrepid women who raised their voices to expose this abuse are our heroes."
Dame Judi Dench, in a statement to Newsweek:
“Whilst there is no doubt that Harvey Weinstein has helped and championed my film career for the past 20 years, I was completely unaware of these offenses which are, of course, horrifying, and I offer my sympathy to those who have suffered, and wholehearted support to those who have spoken out.”
George Clooney, in an interview with the Daily Beast. Here’s one excerpt:
"It’s indefensible. That’s the only word you can start with. 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."
"This is an interesting moment. I’ve seen a lot of people, from Meryl [Streep] to Judi Dench, come out and say “holy shit,” and I think that that’s been the reaction by a lot of people in Hollywood. I don’t think that people were looking the other way; I think that people weren’t looking, because in some ways, a lecherous guy with money picking up younger girls is unfortunately not a news story in our society."
Leonardo DiCaprio, on Facebook:
“There is no excuse for sexual harassment or sexual assault — no matter who you are and no matter what profession. I applaud the strength and courage of the women who came forward and made their voices heard.”
Nicole Kidman, in a statement to People:
"As I've stated before publicly, I support and applaud all women and these women who speak out against any abuse and misuse of power — be it domestic violence or sexual harassment in the workforce,” she said. “We need to eradicate this behaviour."
Cate Blanchett, in a statement to Variety:
“Any man in a position of power or authority who thinks it’s his prerogative to threaten, intimidate or sexually assault any woman he encounters or works alongside needs to be called to account. It is never easy for a woman to come forward in such situations and I wholeheartedly support those who have.”
Tom Hanks, in an interview with the New York Times. An excerpt:
“You can’t buy, ‘Oh, well, I grew up in the ’60s and ’70s and so therefore. ...” [In his initial statement, Weinstein said his behavior was a result of the time period he grew up in.] “I did, too. So I think it’s like, well, what do you want from this position of power? I know all kinds of people that just love hitting on, or making the lives of underlings some degree of miserable, because they can . . . I’m not the first person to say Harvey’s a bit of an ass. Poor Harvey — I’m not going to say poor Harvey, Jesus. Isn’t it kind of amazing that it took this long? I’m reading it and I’m thinking ‘You can’t do that to Ashley Judd! Hey, I like her. Don’t do that. That ain’t fair. Not her, come on. Come on!’”
Ben Affleck, on Facebook:
"I am 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. The additional allegations of assault that I read this morning made me sick."
"This is completely unacceptable, and I find myself asking what I can do to make sure this doesn't happen to others. We need to do better at protecting our sisters, friends, co-workers and daughters. We must support those who come forward, condemn this type of behaviour when we see it and help ensure there are more women in positions of power."
Julianne Moore, in two tweets:
“1. Coming forward about sexual abuse and coercion is scary and women have nothing to be gained personally by doing so.”
“2. But through their bravery we move forward as a culture, and I thank them. Stand with @AshleyJudd @rosemcgowan and others.”
Susan Sarandon, on Twitter:
"Huge respect for Ashley Judd and all the women who broke their silence for the article on Harvey Weinstein. Brave."
Emma Watson, on Twitter:
"I stand with all the women who have been sexually harassed, and am awestruck by their bravery. This mistreatment of women has to stop."
She added: "In this instance it was women affected but I also stand with all the men, indeed any person, who has suffered sexual harassment."
Jennifer Lawrence, per the Daily Beast:
"I was deeply disturbed to hear the news about Harvey Weinstein’s behaviour. I worked with Harvey five years ago and I did not experience any form of harassment personally, nor did I know about any of these allegations. This kind of abuse is inexcusable and absolutely upsetting."
"My heart goes out to all of the women affected by these gross actions. And I want to thank them for their bravery to come forward."
Kate Winslet, to Variety. An excerpt of her long statement:
"The fact that these women are starting to speak out about the gross misconduct of one of our most important and well regarded film producers, is incredibly brave and has been deeply shocking to hear. The way Harvey Weinstein has treated these vulnerable, talented young women is NOT the way women should ever EVER deem to be acceptable or commonplace in ANY workplace."
Charlize Theron, in a statement to BuzzFeed:
"The women who have spoken about their abuse are brave and heroic and although I didn’t have a personal experience like this with Harvey Weinstein, I unfortunately cannot say I’m surprised."
"This culture has always existed, not just in Hollywood but across the world. And many men in positions of power have gotten away with it for far too long. And we cannot blame the victims here. A lot of these women are young and just starting out in their respective fields, and have absolutely no way to stand up to a man with such greater influence than them. If they speak up, they are shut down, and that could be the end of their career."
"This is all a positive step forward in changing that culture, and these young women need to know that they have a support system should anything like this happen to them. And I want you all to know I’m here to support you."
Mindy Kaling, on Twitter:
“There is no incentive for women in Hollywood to come forward to tell lies of a powerful producer sexually harassing them. I believe them.”
Politicians also react
AP reports that Weinstein has been a major Democratic Party donor with him and his family giving more than $1.4 million in political contributions since the 1992 election cycle. Congressional Democrats have been facing pressure to donate the thousands of dollars they received from Weinstein to charities.
Hillary Clinton, in a statement on Twitter on Tuesday, said she was "shocked and appalled" and that "the behavior described by women coming forward cannot be tolerated. Their courage and the support of others is critical in helping to stop this kind of behavior."
The Obamas released a statement saying: "Any man who demeans and degrades women in such fashion needs to be condemned and held accountable, regardless of wealth or status. We should celebrate the courage of women who have come forward to tell these painful stories. And we all need to build a culture — including by empowering our girls and teaching our boys decency and respect — so we can make such behavior less prevalent in the future."
Later Tuesday, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi weighed in as well.
"The news of Harvey Weinstein's countless assaults on women and the clear efforts to intimidate his victims into silence are shocking. His despicable actions violate every standard of acceptable behavior," the California Democrat wrote. "Every man who disrespects and attacks women must be held accountable."
What's happening to Harvey now?
Reports reveal that Harvey has been fired from The Weinstein Company, the studio he co-founded with his brother. His wife is filing for divorce and he's reportedly seeking treatment for sex addiction in Europe.
Could he go to jail?
"Harvey Weinstein could face five to 25 years in prison on sexual assault charges if the latest abuse allegations are tried in criminal court," reports The Guardian.