FOLLOWING the news that Harvey Weinstein had been sacked from his eponymous company on Sunday after allegations of sexual harassment emerged against him in the last week, many of Hollywood’s stars – some of whom have worked with the producer many times – have spoken out.
Meryl Streep, who collaborated with the film mogul on August: Osage County and The Iron Lady called the alleged sexual harassment “disgraceful,” “inexcusable,” and an “abuse of power,” and praised the women who had spoken against him. “The intrepid women who raised their voices to expose this abuse are our heroes”, she said in a statement to the Huffington Post. She refuted suggestions that “everybody knew” about the reported misconduct, saying, “I did not know about his financial settlements with actresses and colleagues; I did not know about his having meetings in his hotel room, his bathroom, or other inappropriate, coercive acts.”
Jennifer Lawrence won an Oscar in 2013 for Silver Linings Playbook, which was produced by Weinstein. The actress said that she had not been subjected to inappropriate behaviour while working with him, but joined the prominent voices condemning his alleged misconduct.
“I was deeply disturbed to hear the news about Harvey Weinstein’s behaviour,” she said in a statement to Variety. “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,” she added.
Judi Dench, who has previously credited Weinstein with reviving her career and won an Oscar for her performance as Elizabeth I in his 1999 film Shakespeare In Love, also said that she was “unaware” of the “horrifying” offences.
“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 offences which are, of course, horrifying and I offer my sympathy to those who have suffered, and wholehearted support to those who have spoken out,” she said in a statement to CNN.
Kate Winslet wrote in a statement to Variety: “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… His behaviour is without question disgraceful and appalling and very, very wrong. I had hoped that these kind of stories were just made up rumours, 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.” Winslet won a Best Actress Oscar for her role in The Reader in 2009, which was produced by The Weinstein Company.
Romola Garai revealed a “humiliating” encounter that she had with Weinstein at the age of 18.
“Like every other woman in the industry, I’ve had an ‘audition’ with Harvey Weinstein, where I’d actually already had the audition but you had to be personally approved by him,” she said, reports The Guardian. “So I had to go to his hotel room in the Savoy, and he answered the door in his bathrobe. I was only 18. I felt violated by it, it has stayed very clearly in my memory.”
“The transaction was just that I was there,” she continued, saying that once she was in the hotel room with Weinstein she just sat on a chair and briefly discussed the film. “The point was that he could get a young woman to do that, that I didn’t have a choice, that it was humiliating for me and that he had the power. It was an abuse of power.”
Lena Dunham, Patricia Arquette, Emma Thompson, Seth Rogan and Mark Ruffalo are also part of the high-profile chorus of condemnation rising against Weinstein. However, Rose McGowan – one of the actresses to accuse him – posted a series of tweets yesterday calling on more of the industry’s heavyweights to speak out.
The story took a turn last night as Donna Karan was widely criticised after she appeared to defend Weinstein in comments she made on the red carpet at the CinéFashion film awards in Los Angeles, in which she described him and his wife, fashion designer Georgina Chapman, as “wonderful people”.
“I think we have to look at ourselves,” she said, reports The Guardian. “Obviously, the treatment of women all over the world is something that has always had to be identified. Certainly in the country of Haiti where I work, in Africa, in the developing world, it’s been a hard time for women.”
“I also think how do we display ourselves? How do we present ourselves as women? What are we asking? Are we asking for it by presenting all the sensuality and all the sexuality?”
“You look at everything all over the world today and how women are dressing and what they are asking by just presenting themselves the way they do. What are they asking for? Trouble.”
Following widespread condemnation of her remarks, Karan released a statement apologising for her comments, saying that they were taken “out of context”.
“Last night, I was honoured at the Cinemoi Fashion Film Awards in Hollywood and while answering a question on the red carpet I made a statement that unfortunately is not representative of how I feel or what I believe. I have spent my life championing women. My life has been dedicated to dressing and addressing the needs of women, empowering them and promoting equal rights. My statements were taken out of context and do not represent how I feel about the current situation concerning Harvey Weinstein. I believe that sexual harassment is not acceptable and this is an issue that MUST be addressed once and for all regardless of the individual. I am truly sorry to anyone that I offended and everyone that has ever been a victim.”