- Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie join group of women accusing the producer of sexual harassment, which he ‘unequivocally denied’ via spokeswoman
The accusations come just days after nearly a dozen women recounted sexual harassment by Weinstein – producer of Oscar-winners Shakespeare in Love, The Artist and The English Patient, and patron to Quentin Tarantino and Steven Soderbergh – to the New York Times and other publications, causing the Weinstein production company to fire its once-formidable co-founder .
On Tuesday actors Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie both joined them in making accusations of sexual harassment against Weinstein.
Asia Argento, an Italian actress and director, Lucia Evans, a former aspiring actor, and one unnamed woman accused Weinstein of forcing them to engage in sex or sex acts in the New Yorker piece authored by Ronan Farrow. The son of actress Mia Farrow, Ronan Farrow previously helped reignite his sister Dylan’s accusations that their father, Woody Allen, groomed and sexually assaulted her as a child, an allegation Allen denies.
Four other women told the magazine that Weinstein touched them without their consent in a way “that could be classified as an assault”.
Others including actors Mira Sorvino and Rosanna Arquette alleged sexual harassment on the part of the Hollywood mogul.
Farrow also revealed audio from 2015 New York police department sting operation in which Weinstein allegedly admits to groping Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, a model who reported his behavior, and said he was “used to” behaving that way.
“Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr Weinstein,” a spokeswoman told the New Yorker, adding that he never retaliated against women who refused his sexual 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.”
After last week’s New York Times article, Weinstein apologized for his past behavior but denied many of the specific allegations against him. Attorneys on Weinstein’s legal team denied that he engaged in illegal sexual harassment and have threatened to sue the New York Times over inaccurate statements. His team has not filed a libel suit or specified which statements are inaccurate.
On Tuesday Oscar-winners Paltrow and Jolie both accused Weinstein of sexual harassment early on in their careers. Paltrow claimed in the New York Times that the incident took place just after she signed on for the lead role in Emma, the Jane Austen adaptation that would launch her as a star.
At the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel, Paltrow claimed, according to the New York Times, that Weinstein ended a business meeting by “placing his hands on her and suggesting they head to the bedroom for massages”. She says she refused.
Jolie told the paper in an email: “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.” The actor and director added: “This behavior towards women in any field, any country is unacceptable.”
A statement from Weinstein’s spokeswoman to the paper repeated his denial regarding allegations of “non-consensual sex” and added: “Mr Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances. He will not be available for further comments, as he is taking the time to focus on his family, on getting counseling and rebuilding his life.”
Weinstein’s precipitous downfall sent shockwaves through the industry he dominated for several decades. Although many major film stars and studios have reacted publicly with silence, the accusations have riveted Hollywood and caused some of Weinstein’s most famous collaborators, such as Meryl Streep and Glenn Close, to sever ties.
The accusations have also prompted a discussion about who in the movie industry, which is still dominated by men, may have been complicit in hiding Weinstein’s behavior. Most of the celebrities who have reacted or face demands to react are women, critics note, while many of those remaining silent are men .
Shortly after the New Yorker’s story was published, actor and director Ben Affleck – who worked with Weinstein on Good Will Hunting, Gone Baby Gone and Dogma –
wrote that the allegations “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.”
In the New Yorker story, Evans claims she met Weinstein in 2004 when she was a college student with aspirations as an actor. She declined several of Weinstein’s invitations to meet him late at night, but agreed to go to a daytime meeting with him and a casting executive.
Evans says she was led to an office where Weinstein met her alone. After they discussed some of his upcoming projects, including Project Runway, Evans claims Weinstein exposed himself and physically forced her to perform oral sex for him.
“I said, over and over, ‘I don’t want to do this, stop, don’t,’” she is quoted as saying. “I tried to get away, but maybe I didn’t try hard enough. I didn’t want to kick him or fight him.”
She encountered the casting director afterwards and Weinstein occasionally called her late at night, Evans claims. She says she experienced years of guilt.
So did Argento, the Italian actor and director. Argento said Weinstein assaulted her in 1997, after one of his producers brought Argento to his hotel room on the French Riviera. Argento said she was told that Weinstein’s company Miramax, her film distributor, was having a party.
Argento said she reluctantly agreed to give Weinstein, who was wearing a bathrobe and offering her a bottle of lotion, a massage. After she agreed, she claims, he pulled up her skirt and forcibly performed oral sex on her while she told him several times to stop. Like Evans, she said she found his physical size intimidating.
When Weinstein would not stop, Argento claims, she pretended to enjoy the act, hoping that would end the assault.
Argento acknowledges that after the alleged assault, she entered into a consensual sexual relationship with Weinstein on and off for the next five years. While she says she consented to their future sexual encounters, she also claims at times she felt she had no choice, because of her professional connection to Weinstein’s company, and because he had already overpowered her.
In 2000, a film she wrote and directed contained a scene in which a movie producer attempts to assault a character played by Argento in a hotel room. Argento claims the scene prompted other women to describe similar encounters with Weinstein to her. She claims Weinstein saw the film and said: “Ha, ha, very funny.”
Sixteen former or current executives and assistants at Weinstein’s companies told the New Yorker about unwanted sexual contact or advances in the workplace or at events surrounding Weinstein-produced films.
Echoing previous claims, many of these sources said Weinstein made sexual advances on young women in entertainment under the guise of professional meetings. They also claimed that they feared Weinstein’s retaliation for refusing his advances, and that executives within Weinstein’s company knew about complaints over his behavior.
Evans said she doubted the casting executive she met with was aware of Weinstein’s behavior; a producer who allegedly brought Argento to Weinstein’s hotel room denied doing so.
In addition to the accusations of unwanted sexual contact, four women claimed Weinstein exposed himself to them or masturbated in front of them. Two women have come forward in the past week with similar stories: Lauren Sivan , a television reporter, and Today Show co-host Kathie Lee Gifford.