Saturday 21 July 2018

Screenwriter Abi Morgan: Weinstein was deceptive and a parody of power

The writer of The Iron Lady and Suffragette has also addressed her feelings about being called a feminist.

Abi Morgan
Abi Morgan

By Lucy Mapstone, Press Association Deputy Entertainment Editor

Screenwriter Abi Morgan has said that Harvey Weinstein was a deceptive man to work with because he showed great interest in “female feminist work” during a meeting with her.

Morgan, whose 2011 film The Iron Lady starring Meryl Streep was produced by Weinstein, also said that part of his apparent deception was down to his notoriety for throwing celebrity parties.

Weinstein was dismissed from his film studio The Weinstein Company following numerous allegations of sexual harassment against him from stars including Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd, and many others have also made allegations, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Lupita Nyong’o, Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek.

When you sit down with a Hollywood producer who seems interested in female feminist work, then somewhere along the way you think, 'OK, this is good, he must have an appreciation and respect for women', and you realise how deceptive that is. Abi Morgan

Morgan told BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs that in her own experience of the movie mogul he was “the guy who sat at the back of the screening room, the guy who tapped you on the shoulder and said ‘well done’, the man who wanted to meet you to talk about work.”

The Bafta-nominated writer, who wrote films including Suffragette and Shame and drama series Sex Traffic, added: “I think everyone knew that he was a bully.”

She told presenter Kirsty Young: “Honestly, what did I think about him? He threw great parties and I think that was incredibly corrupting and seductive.”

Morgan said she asked herself “why did I never challenge that?” when she heard reports of accusations from dozens of women of sexual misconduct, ranging from harassment to rape, adding that “there was always that rumour around him”.

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Harvey Weinstein

Weinstein has apologised for his past behaviour but has denied all allegations of non-consensual sex.

“The main thing about Harvey was, he was almost a parody of power,” Morgan said.

“I think we put him in that kind of frothy Hollywood bubble, but in a way I don’t want to excuse my behaviour because I think I’ve 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 with him a year before all the allegations came out, and the thing he was interested in was female feminist work.”

She added: “And when you sit down with a Hollywood producer who seems interested in female feminist work, then somewhere along the way you think, ‘OK, this is good, he must have an appreciation and respect for women’, and you realise how deceptive that is.”

Morgan also admitted that she “cringes” when she remembers her quote from a previous interview, in which she said she does not like to use the term feminist to describe herself.

“I’m embarrassed I said that,” she said.

“If I look back at my work, going right back to the start where I was looking at a relationship between a woman and a paedophile, and then moved onto sex trafficking of women and what it means to be a single woman bringing up a child and watching her become a Muslim, through to Suffragette – I’ve always put women at the heart of my work.”

Morgan chose songs including Beyonce’s Sorry – “an anthem for all women to stop apologising” – and Joni Mitchell’s Chelsea Morning as her Desert Island Discs.

Desert Island Discs is on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday at 11.15am.

Press Association

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