Who is Harvey Weinstein?
Weinstein, aged 65, is one of the most successful and prolific film producers in Hollywood. An American, he is the co-founder of the production-and-distribution companies Miramax and the Weinstein Company.
Miramax, which Harvey founded with his brother Bob, has produced some of the most popular films of the last four decades, including Pulp Fiction, Shakespeare in Love, Chicago and The Queen. Weinstein’s movies have earned more than 300 Oscar nominations.
Of the adoration that Hollywood has held for Weinstein, The New Yorker wrote: “At the annual awards ceremonies, he has been thanked more than almost anyone else in movie history, just after Steven Spielberg and right before God.”
How did the accusations of sexual harassment and assault come to light?
On 5th October, the New York Times revealed multiple allegations of sexual harassment against Weinstein that span from the 1990s to 2015. The newspaper also reported that he had paid to settle the allegations of at least eight accusers. By the end of the week, four members of the Weinstein Company’s all-male board had resigned, and Weinstein had been permanently dismissed “in light of new information about misconduct… that has emerged in the past few days.”
In a ten-month investigation by The New Yorker, thirteen women accused Weinstein of sexual harassment and assault – three of whom alleged that the producer had raped them. Many of the women’s statements refer to when they were aspiring actresses in their 20s, saying that Weinstein wanted to trade massages or expose himself to them.
What are the accusations made against him?
The New York Times article includes an account from actress Ashley Judd, who alleges that in the 1990s Weinstein asked if he could give her a massage or she could watch him shower. The newspaper also reports that in 1997 Weinstein reached a settlement with actress Rose McGowan after an episode in a hotel room during the Sundance Film Festival, although the $100,000 settlement was “not to be construed as an admission” by Mr Weinstein, but intended to “avoid litigation and buy peace,” according to the legal document, which was reviewed by The New York Times. Their article also lists a young assistant, an actress and an Italian model among those to enter into settlements.
The women – many of them actresses and models – interviewed in The New Yorker include: Lucia Evans and Asia Argento who both say Weinstein forced them into sexual acts, Mira Sorvino who says Weinstein tried to pressure her into a physical relationship, Rosanna Arquette who says she rejected Weinstein’s advances and that her acting career suffered as a result, Emma de Caunes who says Weinstein exposed himself to her and tried to force her to touch him, and Ambra Battilana Gutierrez who says she was groped by Weinstein in 2015. Gutierrez later cooperated with the NYPD in a sting operation that led to a secret recording of Weinstein admitting the assault although the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office decided not to file charges.
In a subsequent New York Times story, Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie joined the growing list of accusers, with Paltrow saying Weinstein suggested that they massage each other and Jolie saying she refused to work with him and warned other women against it after a “bad experience” with him in her youth.
Boogie Nights and The Hangover actress Heather Graham has also written an article in Variety saying that Weinstein implied she had to have sex with him for a role.
Supermodel turned actress Cara Delevingne released a statement in which she alleges that Weinstein told her during a “very odd and uncomfortable call” that being gay would damage her career: “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”.
She goes on to allege that she was pressured into entering Weinstein’s hotel room, where he asked her to kiss another girl. After the encounter, she says, “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.”
Read the full statement on her Instagram page below.
French actress and James Bond star Léa Seydoux claims that Weinstein tried to kiss her in a hotel room in Paris.
“We were talking on the sofa when he suddenly jumped on me and tried to kiss me,” she told the Guardian. “I had to defend myself. He’s big and fat, so I had to be forceful to resist him.”
How has Harvey Weinstein reacted?
Weinstein categorically denies any allegations of non-consensual sex.
In response to the original New York Times article, Weinstein issued a statement which did not directly refer to sexual assault allegations, saying: “I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologise for it. Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go.”
Weinstein then told the New York Post: “I’ve got to deal with my personality, I’ve got to work on my temper, I have got to dig deep. I know a lot of people would like me to go into a facility, and I may well just do that – I will go anywhere I can learn more about myself… In the past I used to compliment people, and some took it as me being sexual, I won’t do that again.”
Sallie Hofmeister, a spokesperson for Weinstein, issued a statement in response to the allegations in The New Yorker article. It reads in full: “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances. Mr. Weinstein obviously can’t speak to anonymous allegations, but with respect to any women who have made allegations on the record, Mr. Weinstein believes that all of these relationships were consensual. Mr. Weinstein has begun counseling, has listened to the community and is pursuing a better path. Mr. Weinstein is hoping that, if he makes enough progress, he will be given a second chance.”
How has Hollywood reacted?
Weinstein and his wife Georgina Chapman
There has been widespread public condemnation of Weinstein since the story broke.
Barack and Michelle Obama said in a statement that they were “disgusted by the recent reports about Harvey Weinstein” and added that they “celebrate the courage of women who have come forward”. Weinstein was a prolific fundraiser for the Democrats under Obama’s leadership and the ex-president’s daughter Malia worked as an intern at The Weinstein Company earlier this year.
Weinstein was also a big donor to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. She said she was “shocked and appalled” by the revelations.
Numerous Hollywood figures have spoken out against Weinstein, including Meryl Streep who described his alleged behaviour as “disgraceful” and “inexcusable” and also stated that “not everybody knew” about alleged decades of assault which many are calling a conspiracy. Glenn Close, Kate Winslet and Judi Dench, among others, have also voiced their dismay. All of their statements can be read in the New York Times.
Benedict Cumberbatch, who stars in forthcoming Weinstein film The Current War, said in a statement: “I am utterly disgusted by the continuing revelations of Harvey Weinstein’s horrifying and unforgivable actions.”
Weinstein’s wife Georgina Chapman, the fashion designer with whom he has two children, has announced that she is leaving him and told People magazine: “My heart breaks for all the women who have suffered tremendous pain because of these unforgivable actions.”
What has been the fallout from the allegations?
Weinstein has been fired by his own company, had his membership suspended indefinitely by BAFTA, and now the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who host the Oscars, are planning to meet to discuss their next move after calling his behaviour “antithetical to the high standards of the Academy and the creative community it represents”
Which Weinstein movies were set to be released this year?
Despite previously being considered an awards season powerhouse, The Weinstein Company have few Oscar hopefuls in contention this year. Films produced by Weinstein that have already been released in 2017 include Wind River (starring Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner) and 47 Metres Down (a shark thriller featuring Mandy Moore).
The Current War starring Benedict Cumberbatch is set for release in November, and follows the race to create an electrical system to power the modern world. The film met with mixed reviews when it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last month.
Weinstein projects scheduled for next year include The Upside with Nicole Kidman and Bryan Cranston, and Mary Magdalene starring Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix.
Given the allegations, Amazon is currently “reviewing” two major series that they are collaborating on with The Weinstein Company – The Romanoffs, an anthology series from Mad Men creator Matt Weiner, and an untitled drama from David O Russell starring Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore.
According to Broadcast, Harvey Weinstein has also been removed as an executive producer for the BBC’s next landmark period drama, War & Peace screenwriter Andrew Davies’ adaption of Les Miserables.
According to Variety, Disney have also removed him from the upcoming Artemis Fowl project.