Wednesday 11 December 2019

'I locked myself in the bathroom and asked him to let me go' - Irish producer on working with Harvey Weinstein

Irish assistant details experience with disgraced movie mogul in Channel 4 documentary 'Working with Weinstein'

Harvey Weinstein (AP)
Harvey Weinstein (AP)
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Irish film producer Laura Madden has spoken out about her first experience with disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Speaking on Channel 4 documentary 'Working with Weinstein', Ms Madden detailed her first meeting with the Miramax founder in Dublin.

He was in Dublin as movie 'Into the West' was shooting, and he suggested a starry-eyed Ms Madden could be his assistant.

"I think my first introduction to him was going into his hotel room. I was surprised to see room service had been ordered, there was a bottle of champage. He asked me to come and sit down, and he basically then told me what a wonderful job I was doing , and how he wanted me to work for him in London.

"This was exciting, this was great, this was going to be the next step. And it very quickly turned from a conversation about a profession to about him being tired and having travelled a long way and him wanting a massage.

"I remember feeling quite shocked by this request, and him saying 'what's wrong with it? That's normal?' And I felt I was the one who was sexualising it and I was the one who was making it a problem.

"I ended up being given a massage by him. He took my top off and started massaging me . I think all my clothes ended up coming off, and he was wearing a robe and masterbating. There were constant new reuqests. I remember going into the shower with him and at that point remember feeling completely out of my depth and horrified and crying."

She says he then left the room and she locked herself in the bathroom, before bursting into tears.

Weinstein later apologised to her for the incident, and told her it would never happen again.

"For the eight years that I worked there it was always present. It just sat very uncomfortable. I felt like I had done something wrong. I felt more to blame than in a way he was, obviously it was his problem. But I took... I felt responsible, and humiliated by it", she added.

While several A-list actresses in the US have accused producer Harvey Weinstein of harassment, sexual abuse, and rape, Channel 4's hour-long documentary heard allegations of how he used his power and position to abuse his colleagues and workers in the British Isles.

A spokesperson for Harvey Weinstein has previously said that any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied.

The documentary featured interviews with former assistants and others who worked with him in the UK who accused him of misusing his power to dominate, control and humiliate.

Former employees allege that Non-Disclosure Agreements within The Weinstein Company became widespread and allowed Weinstein to continue to behave badly with impunity.

One described her discomfort at being expected to escort women to Weinstein's hotel room and having to collect a prescription for erectile dysfunction injections.

Film producer David Parfitt described how he was allegedly physically assaulted by Weinstein during the making of My Week with Marilyn.

Former employees revealed that a ‘code’ existed among assistants where they encouraged one another to avoid Weinstein’s advances by wearing big jackets, staying in pairs or groups in his presence and by not sitting next to him on a sofa.

Lawyer Jill Greenfield, who is representing “half a dozen” women in a UK Civil Court Action, said, “You’ve got an awful lot of women who have been afraid for many years and are still very afraid, but these women now have an awful lot of other women and people around them who are really not afraid and are prepared to go all the way on this. Because it’s so important that they have the right to access to justice in a way that they were so fearful of all those years ago.

“He may be or may have been a powerful man, but it doesn’t matter. He’s not above the law. He’s just a man.”

Here are the transcripts of the interviews in the documentary:

Transcript 1 – former Miramax employee

On her first meeting with Weinstein:

It very quickly turned from being a conversation about a profession, a job, to being about him being tired and having travelled a long way and him wanting a massage. And I think, I remember feeling sort of, sort of, quite shocked by this request. And him sort of, you know, you know, saying, you know, "What's wrong with that, that's normal. All my staff do this, this is very normal." And I felt that I was the one who was sexualising it and who was making it a problem. And so I ended up being given a massage by him. So he took my top off and he started massaging me. And I think all my clothes ended up coming off. And he, he was wearing a robe and masturbating. And then, it was a constant, there were constant new requests. It was, have a... no, no, let's have a shower.

On later incidents:

Any time I was, summonsed to a, to the Savoy where he would work from, there were always requests for massage. You know, he never stopped trying it on, never. Even having promised that he wouldn't. It was consistent and constant.


Transcript 2 – former employee of The Weinstein Company

I got a call from someone in New York : we needed to pick up a prescription that's very sensitive.

So just being... I'm curious and I thought, oh! That's unusual.

So I went and got them and came back and there was masses of them, boxes and boxes, and I... and it was the injections

So I looked it up. And they were penile erection dysfunction injections. And I thought, I've been picking these things up off the floor.


Transcript 3 – David Parfitt

When we actually got through the main shoot and into the test, he decided it wasn’t enough Marilyn’s film and that he wanted more Marilyn.

The scores came in at the end of the test, um, and they were very good and I think he’d expected it to be not good.

In his fury about it doing so well when he thought it wouldn’t, he physically assaulted me.

We were talking at the back of the theatre after the audience had left, but the Miramax crowd were around, and he pinned me up against a Coke machine and threatened all sorts of stuff.

It was very scary. But he was just furious that the film in our version had worked.


Mr Weinstein says the allegations in this film are untrue.  He responded to Channel 4:

“The use of Non-Disclosure agreements with employees in both entertainment and media companies is ….. standard in the industry.

“Mr. Parfitt and Mr. Weinstein had creative differences on the film, any conflict between them was solely over their different visions for the film.

"…… while Mr. Weinstein has apologized for boorish behavior in certain situations in the past, Mr. Weinstein unequivocally denies he ever engaged in criminal misconduct of any kind.”

Working with Weinstein is available to view on All 4.

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