Irish actress Caroline Morahan on casting couch culture in Hollywood: 'It was treated as something actresses have to do'
Irish actress Caroline Morahan has given insight into the "worst kept secret in Hollywood" - the "casting couch".
Morahan, who shot to fame as a presenter on RTE's Off The Rails, upped sticks to Los Angeles in 2009 in order to pursue her dream of acting. The 40-year-old said she had long heard rumours of the casting couch culture prevalent in Hollywood (Marilyn Monroe once called Tinseltown an "overcrowded brothel") but was unaware of its extent, in particular its criminal elements.
"I had no idea of the level of depravity going on in Hollywood. Thankfully, I've never encountered anything like this repulsive behaviour of Weinstein. It’s something I’ve known about for years, it’s the worst kept secret in Hollywood. It’s widely discussed," she told Marian Finucane on RTE Radio One.
"Even looking at the Oscars, it was an open joke –all the actresses laughed when the host [Jimmy Kimmel], 'Now you don’t have to pretend to Harvey Weinstein,' there were guffaws."
Morahan, who most recently featured on ABC's hit Once Upon A Time, said she had long heard rumours of actresses having to sleep with producers and directors to secure parts.
"When I heard these names years ago, the names listed were key A-list actresses: Oscar nominated every year and what was alleged is that they all had to sleep with him at some point in their career to get to the next level. It’s treated as something actresses have to do," she explained.
"I always thought it was stupid Hollywood rumours and took it with a grain of salt."
The tv star explained the casting and production process, emphasising the power someone like Weinstein in particular held over actors.
"When a project is being cast, it breaks down, which means a description of the part being sent to agencies around the world, people will often tape wherever they are (to audition). If it’s a big production like a Weinstein movie, it will just be discussed with specific people, in which case, Weinstein is the top of the totem pole," she said.
"If it’s television, the breakdown will go to everyone. The top agencies get their choice, send in their list of names and often will end there….they might be open to seeing other people, when everybody else in town goes in. It could go down to a producer or director, there are so many variables at play and it’s different on every project.
"When a film is actually made, Weinstein chooses the ones he really wants to push for Oscar contentions, puts huge money behind promotional campaigns - his power was limitless."
She went on to praise the public reaction to the accusations, in particular the industry response against Weinstein and pushing for the promotion of more women in senior positions in every industry to help stamp out these abuses of power.
"What we've seen is that there’s one rule for someone who's a celebrity and famous and something for everyone else," she added, referencing Bill Cosby, Jimmy Saville, Lou Pearlman.
"What we've seen is that nothing happens. To have the Academy throw our Weinstein, at the very least, it's something to cling to. When I saw this story, I was overjoyed -I was sickened when I read the details - but when I saw the board members immediately suspended him and weren’t standing by his side. This could be one opportunity for change: for education, awareness and having this discussion and to go forward with a different mindset.
"I have experienced to a small degree the boys club mentality, this could be a wonderful thing that’s happened and push forward the conversation – we need more women in positions of power and things like this will cease to exist."