What Hollywood Knew About Harvey Weinstein

March 2, 2018
/
by Anjali Tsui Abrams Journalism Fellow, FRONTLINE/Columbia Journalism School Fellowships

In the months since journalists at The New York Times and The New Yorker began exposing sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein, more than 100 women have come forward with their own accounts.

Although the accusations span decades, some of Hollywood’s biggest stars have said they were unaware of any allegations. Others have said that they had their suspicions. Or, they  knew about this behavior but never spoke out.

“Harvey Weinstein was one of the most powerful people in Hollywood for decades,” said The New Yorker‘s Ronan Farrow in an interview for the FRONTLINE documentary Weinstein. “Any time you have a story like this where people are getting hurt over decades and decades, there are people around who knew enough and could have done more to stop it.”

In a statement to FRONTLINE, Weinstein’s spokeswoman said that while he denies any non-consensual sexual conduct, he is deeply apologetic to those offended by his behavior.

Here are a selection of comments from interviews and social media that shed light on what actors, directors and former colleagues knew about Weinstein’s alleged misconduct.

Actor George Clooney credits Weinstein for helping to launch his career in the 1990s. He told ABC News that he knew Weinstein was a womanizer, but didn’t know the extent of his behavior.

“Harvey would talk to me about women that he’d had affairs with,” Clooney said. “I didn’t necessarily believe him, quite honestly, because to believe him would be to believe kind of the worst of some actresses who were friends of mine. And I didn’t really think that they were going to have affairs with Harvey, quite honestly, and clearly they didn’t. But the idea that this predator, this assaulter, was out there silencing women like that — it’s beyond infuriating.”

Meryl Streep

“The disgraceful news about Harvey Weinstein has appalled those of us whose work he championed, and those whose good and worthy causes he supported,” Streep wrote in a statement to The Huffington Post.

“One thing can be clarified. Not everybody knew,” she added. “Harvey supported the work fiercely, was exasperating but respectful with me in our working relationship, and with many others with whom he worked professionally. I didn’t know about these other offenses: 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.”

Colin Firth won an Oscar for “The King’s Speech,” a film executive produced by Weinstein. Firth told The Guardian that he knew about a “distressing encounter” between Weinstein and actress Sophie Dix that occurred 25 years ago.

“I remember her being profoundly upset by it. To my shame, I merely expressed sympathy,” he said. “I didn’t act on what she told me.”

“It’s with a feeling of nausea that I read what was going on while I was benefiting from Harvey Weinstein’s support. He was a powerful and frightening man to stand up to. It must have been terrifying for these women to step up and call him out. And horrifying to be subjected to that kind of harassment. I applaud their courage,” he said in a statement.

Judi Dench

“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,” Dench said in a statement.

Steven Spielberg

“I was shocked, but I wasn’t surprised,” Spielberg told CNN. “Because if you have peripheral vision, you’re going to sense these things out of the corner of your eye. You can’t not know that this has been going on rampantly for … I can’t even tell you how many decades.”

“This is something that is being dealt with today, and the courage of these women that are coming forward … I’ve never seen anything like it,” he added.

Jennifer Lawrence

“For the record, while I was not victimized personally by Harvey Weinstein, I stand behind the women who have survived his terrible abuse and I applaud them in using all means necessary to bring him to justice whether through criminal or civil actions. Time’s up,” Lawrence said last month in a statement to TMZ.

Matt Damon worked with Harvey Weinstein on Good Will Hunting and went on to make five more movies with him at Miramax.

“I knew he was a womanizer. I wouldn’t want to be married to the guy,” Damon told ABC News. “But this level of criminal sexual predation is not something that I ever thought was going on. Absolutely not.”

Quentin Tarantino, the Hollywood director who worked with Weinstein on films like “Pulp Fiction” and the “Kill Bill” series, said he has known about Weinstein’s alleged misconduct for decades.

“I knew enough to do more than I did,” he said in an interview with The New York Times. “There was more to it than just the normal rumors, the normal gossip. It wasn’t secondhand. I knew he did a couple of these things.”

Said Tarantino, “We allowed it to exist because that’s the way it was.”

Oprah Winfrey

“This is what I know for sure: When something this major happens, when you have the fallout, 50 women coming forward, that it’s a watershed moment. And what I do believe is actually happening is that, first of all, it’s triggering a lot of unreleased pain, repressed anger, guilt and suffering that a lot of women have had,” she said in an interview with “CBS This Morning.”

“If we make this just about Harvey Weinstein, then we will have lost this moment. I think this is a moment where no matter what business you work in, there have been women who not only had the disease to please, that’s a part of it, but who felt that in order to keep my job, in order to keep my positioning, in order to keep moving forward, I’ve got to smile, I’ve got to look the other way, I’ve got to pretend he didn’t say that, I’ve got to pretend he didn’t touch me – I think those days are about to be over.”

Leonardo DiCaprio starred in several movies produced by Weinstein, including “The Aviator,” “Gangs of New York” and “Django Unchained.”

The actor condemned Weinstein’s behavior in a Facebook post. “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,” he wrote.

Kate Winslet

“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,” Winslet said in a statement to Variety. “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.”

Actress and film producer Glenn Close said she had heard rumors of Weinstein’s behavior over the years.

“I’m sitting here, deeply upset, acknowledging to myself that, yes, for many years, I have been aware of the vague rumors that Harvey Weinstein had a pattern of behaving inappropriately around women. Harvey has always been decent to me, but now that the rumors are being substantiated, I feel angry and darkly sad,” Close wrote in a statement to The New York Times.

Brad Pitt was dating Gwyneth Paltrow when she was allegedly sexually harassed by Weinstein. Pitt confronted Weinstein at a premier and told him never to touch Paltrow again. Pitt has not spoken publicly about the incident but confirmed the account to The New York Times. He went on to make two movies with Weinstein — “Inglourious Basterds” (2009) and “Killing Them Softly” (2012).

Penelope Cruz

“Obviously I didn’t know that side of him,” Cruz said in a statement to Entertainment Weekly “We have worked together on different films and even if he has been respectful to me and I personally have never witnessed such behavior, I need to express my support to the women that have had such horrible experiences. They have shown great bravery by talking. That kind of abuse of power is absolutely unacceptable.”

Seth MacFarlane made a joke about Weinstein in 2013 while announcing that year’s Oscar nominations for best supporting actress. “Congratulations, you five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein,” he said.

MacFarlane recently explained what prompted the jab. “In 2011, my friend and colleague Jessica Barth, with whom I worked on the “Ted” films, confided in me regarding her encounter with Harvey Weinstein and his attempted advances,” he wrote in a tweet. “She has since courageously come forward to speak out. It was with this account in mind that, when I hosted the Oscars in 2013, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a hard swing in his direction. Make no mistake, this came from a place of loathing and anger.”

 

William H. Macy spoke to The Daily Beast about Weinstein in November.

“Of course people knew. A lot of people knew. A lot of people knew. It’s the shame of our industry that it took so long for this to blow up,” he said. “You know, I’m going to miss Harvey in a way. There are two Harveys: there’s the Harvey who’s abusive to women, and the Harvey who would make films that no other producer would touch, and would champion those films. The same aggressiveness that he brought to chasing women is the same aggressiveness that he brought to pushing these films. When you think of it in the macro, these guys who are so driven, so smart, and they become so powerful, and they’ve got egos that are outsized — you have to have that to be Harvey Weinstein. You have to be the toughest dog on the block. So, we need no ghost from the grave to think that they’re going to be rough on women, and to take advantage of that. It’s a power thing, and it’s just so wrong.”

Seth Rogen worked with Weinstein 10 years ago. After the experience, he vowed never to collaborate with him again.

“I was like, ‘This is a bad dude,'” Rogen told The Hollywood Reporter. “I think someone like him — everyone knows. I remember one of the first stories you heard about him involved inappropriate sexual misconduct.”

“There’s kind of a wink and acceptance of that type of behavior,” he added. “I think a lot of Hollywood people also like the fact that we work in a business that doesn’t have the same rules as other businesses. They’re free to have varying personalities. … That ultimately also allows people to excuse a lot of horribly inappropriate behavior that shouldn’t be acceptable.”

Bob Iger, CEO of the Walt Disney Company: 

“Harvey Weinstein’s reported behavior is abhorrent and unacceptable, and it has no place in our society,” he said in a statement. Disney issued a separate statement saying that it was “unaware of any complaints, lawsuits or settlements” regarding Weinstein. Disney owned Weinstein’s Miramax between 1993 and 2005.

In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Support Provided By Learn more