Abi Morgan, the writer of TV hits such as Sex Traffic and recent BBC1 drama The Split, has said that she doesn’t want to “excuse” what she regards as her own failure to heed the warning signs around disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
Morgan, whose 2011 film The Iron Lady (starring Meryl Street as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher) was produced by Weinstein, tells Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs that she never saw any indication of the behaviour he has been accused of. But she added that she is angry that she didn’t “listen to herself” when she heard rumours about him.
“In my own experience, he was the guy who sat at the back of the screening room, he was the guy who tapped you on the shoulder and said ‘well done’ and he was the man who wanted to meet you and talk about work,” she says. “I think everyone knew that he was a bully.”
Asked by Desert Island Discs host Kirsty Young if there was an underlying issue that made her feel uncomfortable she says: “He threw great parties and I think that was incredibly corrupting and seductive. I had heard that he had been called a rapist and I look back now and think ‘why didn’t I ever challenge that?’.
“And there was always that rumour around him. The main thing about Harvey was that he was almost a parody of power. I think we put him in that frothy Hollywood kind of bubble.
“But in a way, I don’t want to excuse my behaviour because I think I have shocked myself actually in terms of the way you don’t listen to yourself and go ‘this doesn’t feel entirely right’. I probably had a meeting a year before all the allegations came out and the thing he was interested in was female feminist work. And when you sit down with a Hollywood producer who seems interested in female feminist work, somewhere along the way you think ‘this is good, he must have an appreciation and a respect for women’ and you realise how deceptive that is.”
The Iron Lady won Streep the 2011 best actress Oscar and was directed by Phyllida Lloyd. It starred Jim Broadbent as Margaret Thatcher’s husband Dennis.
Harvey Weinstein has consistently denied all allegations of non-consensual sex made against him.
Desert Island Discs is on Radio 4 on Sunday at 11:15am