News Irish News

Friday 20 September 2019

Irish director says 'powerful abusers in Ireland relying on silence of colleagues' in wake of Harvey Weinstein scandal

Harvey Weinstein
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

Irish filmmaker Lenny Abrahamson has said "powerful abusers" in Ireland will be hoping their colleagues will remain silent as revelations about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein's sexual harassment of dozens of women continue to emerge.

"Right now, here in Ireland, there will be powerful abusers relying on the silence of colleagues. Let’s hope their time is up," the Room director said in a string on Tweets posted on Thursday.

A New York Times investigation, which uncovered three decades of sexual harassment allegations against Weinstein, has led to a string of women, many of them Hollywood powerhouses in their own right, revealing his improper behaviour toward them.

Ashley Judd, Gywneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie are among a long list of his accusers.

Myleene Klass and Kate Beckinsale have spoken out against Harvey Weinstein
Myleene Klass and Kate Beckinsale have spoken out against Harvey Weinstein

On Thursday Kate Beckingsale also revealed that he had opened his door at the Savoy Hotel in London dressed only in a bathrobe before trying to get her to drink, when she was aged just 17.

She said that, following the incident, "saying no to him professionally many times over the years... undoubtedly harmed my career".

Myleene Klass  has also said that she, too, had been propositioned by the bullish New Yorker.

Weinstein invited her for lunch in Cannes, after she had interviewed him at the film festival for CNN. Over lunch he "asked me to sign some kind of sex contract with him."

She said: "I just thought, ‘Mate, which planet are you from?’

Klass, now 39, said she left the lunch feeling "disgusted and angry", and spoke about it in subsequent interviews - but had not named him until now.

As the allegations mount against to the  Oscar-winning producer it has emerged that his behaviour was an apparent "open secret" in Hollywood, pointing to a worrying culture in the industry.

PL298231912016 Oscar Wilde (INT_ED5_S01) (Read-Only).jpg
Director Lenny Abrahamson Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

Now in a strong intervention on social media Lenny Abrahamson has said everyone has a "duty to expose harassers".

"Weinstein and monsters like him are only possible if people in a position to challenge abuse choose to look the other way.

"All of us have a duty to expose the harassers and resist the culture of accommodation that grows around powerful men.

"The closer we are to power ourselves, like the senior executives in Weinstein’s company, the greater our responsibility,"he said.

"What’s for sure is that Weinstein will be the first of many who will now be exposed. I hope they are quaking in their boots.

"Right now, here in Ireland, there will be powerful abusers relying on the silence of colleagues. Let’s hope their time is up."

Police in the UK and New York have confirmed investigations are underway into allegations against Weinstein.

He has been fired from his company and on Thursday entered rehab, reportedly for treatment for sex addiction.

The producer issues an apology, saying he realises the way he behaved in the past "has caused a lot of pain" and that he "needed to be a better person".

He has "unequivocally denied" allegations of rape made by three women, including actress Rose McGowan.

Harvey Weinstein: The key developments in his Hollywood downfall

Here are the key developments since the story first hit the headlines.

Thursday October 5

The New York Times publishes a story exposing "previously undisclosed" allegations of sexual harassment against Weinstein from women with whom he had previously worked, including actress Ashley Judd.

The producer issues an apology, saying he realises the way he behaved in the past "has caused a lot of pain" and that he "needed to be a better person".

He adds: "I came of age in the 60s and 70s, when all the rules about behaviour and workplaces were different. That was the culture then. I have since learned it's not an excuse, in the office - or out of it. To anyone."

Weinstein says he intends to take a "leave of absence" from the Weinstein Company as he works with a therapist.

Friday October 6

The Weinstein Company's board of directors releases a statement saying that the majority of its members "strongly endorsed" co-founder Weinstein's decision to step aside indefinitely while he receives "professional help for the problems he has acknowledged".

What the future holds for Weinstein "depends on Harvey's therapeutic progress, the outcome of the Board's investigation and Harvey's own personal decisions", the board adds.

It adds that it takes the allegations "extremely seriously".

The studio also announces it will be launching an inquiry into the allegations against Weinstein.

Saturday October 7

Weinstein's lawyer Lisa Bloom announces her resignation.

She says: "I have resigned as an adviser to Harvey Weinstein. My understanding is that Mr Weinstein and his board are moving toward an agreement."

Sunday October 8

During the evening, the Weinstein Company's board of directors announces that Weinstein has been dismissed with immediate effect "in light of new information about misconduct".

Monday October 9

British actress Romola Garai claims Weinstein wore only a dressing gown as he auditioned her for a film role when she was just 18.

She tells The Guardian: "I had to go to his hotel room in the Savoy, and he answered the door in his bathrobe.

"I was only 18. I felt violated by it, it has stayed very clearly in my memory."

Meanwhile, a host of stars speak out against the movie mogul's alleged behaviour.

In a statement released to Variety magazine, Kate Winslet says: "The way Harvey Weinstein has treated these vulnerable, talented young women is not the way women should ever ever deem to be acceptable or commonplace in any workplace."

Dame Judi Dench calls the claims "horrifying", Meryl Streep says "the women who raised their voices to expose this abuse are our heroes", while George Clooney says Weinstein's behaviour is "indefensible".

Tuesday October 10

Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie become the latest actresses to accuse Weinstein of sexual harassment.

Paltrow tells the New York Times she was left "petrified" after Weinstein propositioned her when she was 22.

In an email statement to the publication, Jolie says: "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."

Meanwhile, three women allege that Weinstein had raped them in an article in The New Yorker - claims that are vehemently denied by Weinstein.

His spokeswoman Sallie Hofmeister tells the publication: "Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr Weinstein."

More high-profile figures speak out against Weinstein, including Benedict Cumberbatch, Ben Affleck and Barack Obama.

Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio also commented, tweeting: "There is no excuse for sexual harassment or sexual assault - no matter who you are and no matter what profession.

"I applaud the strength and courage of the women who came forward and made their voices heard."

Reports emerge that Weinstein's wife, British fashion designer Georgina Chapman, has "chosen to leave" him following the allegations.

In a statement to People magazine, she said: "My heart breaks for all the women who have suffered tremendous pain because of these unforgivable actions.

"I have chosen to leave my husband. Caring for my young children is my first priority and I ask the media for privacy at this time."

Wednesday October 11

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) announces it has suspended Weinstein's membership, effective immediately.

In an official statement the organisation said in light of the "very serious allegations" it had informed Weinstein of his membership suspension.

In a letter, a number of senior Labour MPs called for Weinstein's honorary CBE to be taken away.

The letter to Prime Minister Theresa May - who has already expressed "concern" about the accusations but said it was not a matter for Downing Street - refers to Weinstein's apology released last week in which he said: "I came of age in the 60s and 70s, when all the rules about behaviour and workplaces were different. That was the culture then."

Following the Bafta statement, a host of other industry bodies release statements, including the British Film Institute (BFI) who told the Press Association it "wholeheartedly support(s) those brave enough to come forward and speak out" against Weinstein.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which hosts the Oscars, described the sexual abuse allegations against Weinstein as "repugnant" and "abhorrent". They announce they will be hold a meeting on Saturday (October 14) to discuss any action to be taken.

Cara Delevingne is the latest actress to launch claims against Weinstein, saying he made advances towards her in a hotel room after asking her to kiss another woman.

The actress and model said she had the encounter with the movie mogul after a meeting with him and a film director in a hotel lobby.

French actress Lea Seydoux, who starred in the Bond film Spectre, also speaks out, saying she had to defend herself after the director allegedly jumped on her and tried to kiss her.

The French actress, who won the Palme d'Or at Cannes for Blue Is The Warmest Colour, penned a piece for The Guardian saying Weinstein stared at her "as if I was a piece of meat".

She said: "He acted as if he were considering me for a role. But I knew that was bullshit. I knew it, because I could see it in his eyes. He had a lecherous look. He was using his power to get sex.

"He invited me to come to his hotel room for a drink. We went up together. It was hard to say no because he's so powerful. All the girls are scared of him.

"Soon, his assistant left and it was just the two of us. That's the moment where he started losing control."

Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane comments on a joke he made about Weinstein at the 2013 Oscar nominations, saying it was a way for him to stand up to the producer after one of his friends said she had been harassed by him.

Overnight, police are called following a "family dispute" at the home of Weinstein's daughter.

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) confirmed they were called to reports of a "disturbance" at the house but said no crime had been committed. Weinstein was not there when officers arrived.

Thursday October 12

Police in Britain and the US said they have opened investigations into Weinstein on Thursday.

Merseyside Police said it had received a report at 8.40am on Wednesday of an alleged sexual assault in the London area in the 1980s, and referred it to Scotland Yard.

Meanwhile, the NYPD told the Press Association it was conducting a review to determine if there are any additional complaints relating to the Harvey Weinstein matter based on information in news reports.

It comes after Weinstein was caught on camera for the first time since the scandal broke.

Dressed in a black t-shirt and scruffy jeans, Weinstein was seen leaving his daughter's house in Los Angeles. He told TMZ: "I'm not doing okay" but "we all make mistakes".

Kate Beckinsale said she had an encounter with Weinstein when she was just 17, when he appeared at a meeting in a bathrobe and offered her alcohol.

In a post on Instagram she wrote: "I had what I thought were boundaries - I said no to him professionally many times over the years-some of which ended up with him screaming at me calling me a c*** and making threats, some of which made him laughingly tell people oh "Kate lives to say no to me."

And on Thursday evening, British actress Sophie Dix became the latest actress to accuse Weinstein of sexual abuse.

The 48-year-old told the Guardian she had been pinned down in a hotel room by the producer in 1990 when she was 22.

Dix, who appeared alongside Colin Firth in 1993 film The Hour Of The Pig, said she was "very, very vocal" about it at the time, but those in the industry "didn't want to know about it".

Jane Fonda, Colin Farrell and Emma Thompson joined the chorus of actors hitting out at Weinstein.

Thompson labelled him a "predator" as she compared the litany of allegations to the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Additional reporting by agencies

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News