RISE AND FALL OF WEINSTEIN
LAUDED AS A ‘GOD’ OF HOLLYWOOD, THE GRUBBY TRUTH ABOUT HARVEY WEINSTEIN IS FINALLY OUT, WRITES SARAH BLAKE
Of all the stomachturning disclosures about Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein’s predatory behaviour, none can rival for sheer impact the 113 seconds of audio captured between an aspiring Italian actor and the movie mogul outside his Manhattan hotel room two years ago.
Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, 22, is trying to avoid walking into a room she seems quite terrified of entering. At the door, Weinstein, a heavy-set, 2m tall, 63-year-old, is insistent, pleading, desperate, frustrated and angry.
Gutierrez — who is wearing a wire after complaining to New York police the day before that Weinstein assaulted her and put his hand up her skirt at his Tribeca office — asks why he groped her breasts.
“Oh, please, I’m sorry, just come on in,” he says on the tape, obtained by The New Yorker. “I’m used to that. Come on. Please.”
Gutierrez is incredulous: “You’re used to that?”
“Yes. I won’t do it again,” says Weinstein, before warning her not to “embarrass” him and “cause a scene” at the hotel.
Weinstein, one of Hollywood’s most powerful figures with a reputation for bullying and whom Meryl Streep had described as “God” onstage in her Oscars acceptance speech three years before, turns threatening.
“Don’t ruin your friendship with me for five minutes.”
When A-listers Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow revealed to The New Yorker this week they had also been subject to Weinstein’s unwanted attentions in a devastating investigation by Woody Allen’s estranged reporter son, Ronan Farrow, Weinstein’s fall became inevitable.
The producer of hundreds of films including Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting, and Shakespeare In Love had been trying for days to bluster through the fallout from a New York Times report, which said he had been paying off his female accusers for decades, revealing details of settlements with eight women.
As Ashley Judd, the first actor to publicly accuse Weinstein in the Times piece, put it: “Women have been talking about Harvey among ourselves for a long time, and it’s simply beyond time to have the conversation publicly.”
Weinstein’s initial mea culpa included an allusion to how he “came of age in the ’60s and ’70s, when all the rules about behaviour and workplaces were different”. He then tried a ham-fisted deflection, saying he was seeking
He lured me to his hotel room in 2010 to discuss a character and emerged naked with an erection from the bathroom Actor Emma de Caunes (below) accuses Weinstein
counselling and taking a break from Hollywood. “I am going to need a place to channel that anger, so I’ve decided that I’m going to give the NRA my full attention,” he said, in what conservative commentators quickly labelled a “progressive pig pass”. “I’m making a movie about our President, perhaps we can make it a joint retirement party,” Weinstein said. While acknowledging he had “caused a lot of pain”, he also alluded to Judd’s “troubles” (the actor has written of being sexually abused in the past), in an echo of how he had smeared his other accusers. With a taste for revenge, an army of lawyers and PRs, wideranging media contacts and sheer determination, Weinstein had apparently for decades been able to outmuscle anyone who threatened to expose him. Indeed, Gutierrez ended up settling her 2015 case against Weinstein after being dragged through the gossip pages, with revelations she had previously accused an Italian businessman of assault and attended one of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s notorious, sexfuelled “bunga bunga” parties. But any hope he would skate was dashed with the revelations from Paltrow and Jolie. More than 30 women have now accused Weinstein of preying on them, and the fallen mogul has joined the ignominious ranks of Bill Cosby, another huge entertainment name whose past caught up with him in his twilight years.
Three actors say Weinstein raped them and he has been wholly cast aside.
Fired from the company he helped found with his brother, publicly dumped by his fashion designer wife Georgina Chapman, the mother of his two young children, Weinstein was last publicly seen flipping photographers the bird as he boarded a private jet to Arizona’s celebrity rehab centre The Meadows.
Social media has played a pivotal role in Weinstein’s unravelling, with many of his accusers finding huge support and galvanising courage on platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
The new intersected quite neatly with the old when veteran actor Rose Marie — who played Sally Rogers on The Dick Van Dyke Show throughout the 1960s, took to Twitter on Wednesday to offer her view.
“Anyone want to hear my thoughts on this Harvey Weinstein business?” she asked her 124,000 followers.
“I’ve worked since I was 3, I’m 94. W/ Weinstein, finally women are speaking up to power. I have suffered my whole life for that. Dont stop (sic),” she wrote.
Marie went on to say of an upcoming biopic about her, Wait For Your Laugh: “It covers my music being cut from Top Banana film because I wouldn’t sleep w/ producer in 1950s.”
Many of the high-profile detractors who have piled onto Weinstein in the past week have indeed claimed ignorance of his actions.
A detailed response to the Daily Beast by George Clooney offers insight into why so many women are reluctant to complain about harassment from prominent men.
“I’ve heard rumours, and the rumours in general started back in the ’90s, and they were that certain actresses had slept with Harvey to get a role,” Clooney said.
“It seemed like a way to smear the actresses and demean them by saying that they didn’t get the jobs based on their talent, so I took those rumours with a grain of salt.”
Clooney, who credits Weinstein with giving him his “first major big-screen role”, said his actions were “indefensible”.
“The other part of this, the part we’re hearing now about eight women being paid off, I didn’t hear anything about that and I don’t know anyone that did. That’s a whole other level and there’s no way you can reconcile that,” he said.
As actor Amber Tamblyn pointed out after reading the online criticism directed at another Weinstein accuser, actor Rose McGowan: “Heed the mantra and never forget: Women. Have. Nothing. To. Gain. And. Everything. To. Lose. By. Coming. Forward.”
It’s hard to overstate just how far Weinstein has fallen. As the co-founder of Miramax studios in 1979 with his brother Bob, he is credited with bringing art-house films into the mainstream, among them Sex, Lies, And Videotape, My Left Foot, and Cinema Paradiso.
Quentin Tarantino’s breakthrough was in part from the support off the Weinstein brothers, who financed Pulp Fiction.
Over 11 years from 1992, the studio had at least one Oscar nominee a year. Best Picture winners Matt Damon and Ben Affleck credit Miramax with their discovery, after the studio made their breakthrough film, 1997’s Good Will Hunting.
Affleck has found himself caught up in Weinstein’s unravelling.
He released a statement after at first being accused of ignoring the scandal, only to have two actors accuse him of groping them and demanding apologies.
“I am saddened and angry that a man who I worked with used his position of power to intimidate, sexually harass and manipulate many women over decades,” Affleck said.
Damon was also entwined in the saga when a former New York Times reporter claimed he and Russell Crowe pressured the paper to pull its planned reporting on Weinstein’s proclivities in the 2000s.
“As the father of four daughters, this is the kind of sexual predation that keeps me up at night,” Damon later said. “This is the great fear for all of us. I did five or six movies with Harvey. I never saw this. I feel horrible for these women and it’s wonderful they have this incredible courage and are standing up now.
“We can all feel this change that’s happening, which is necessary and overdue.”
Just who knew what and for how long is now being dissected. Jolie admitted she has been aware of Weinstein’s behaviour for decades.
“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,” Jolie told the Times.
“This behaviour towards women in any field, any country, is unacceptable.”
Another actor, Jessica Chastain, said she had known for decades to avoid him.
“I was warned from the beginning. The stories were everywhere. To deny that is to create an environment for it to happen again,” Chastain said.
Others described the situation as having spread well beyond Tinseltown.
“The women who have spoken about their abuse are brave and heroic and although I didn’t have a personal experience like this with Harvey Weinstein, I unfortunately cannot say I’m surprised, period,” Charlize Theron said.
“This culture always existed, not just in Hollywood but across the world. And many men in positions of power have gotten away with it for far too long.
“We cannot blame the victims here. A lot of these women are young, just starting out in their respective fields, and have absolutely no way to stand up to a man with so much influence, greater than theirs.”
I was warned from the beginning. The stories were everywhere Jessica Chastain
Weinstein with actor Ashley Judd at an Oscars party in 1997.
Former producer Louisette Geiss, one of the many women who has accused Weinstein of harassment, with her lawyer Gloria Allred.
Meryl Streep with Weinstein on the red carpet in 2012.