Harvey Weinstein’s alleged behaviour indefensible, says George Clooney
The actor and director said he had been unaware of the allegations.
Weinstein has been dismissed from the Weinstein Company, while Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet and Dame Judi Dench have thrown their support behind the women making the allegations of sexual harassment.
Clooney, who got his big-screen break as an actor and then later as director with help from Weinstein, told the Daily Beast website: “It’s indefensible. That’s the only word you can start with.
“I’ve known Harvey for 20 years… We’ve had dinners, we’ve been on location together, we’ve had arguments. But I can tell you that I’ve never seen any of this behaviour – ever.”
He said he had heard “rumours” that “certain actresses had slept with Harvey to get a role” but that they seemed like a way to “demean” the actresses and “so I took those rumours with a grain of salt”.
“But 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,” he said.
His comments come as British actress Romola Garai said that Weinstein wore a dressing gown as he auditioned her for a movie role when she was just 18.
Garai told the Guardian: “Like every other woman in the industry, I’ve had an ‘audition’ with Harvey Weinstein, where I’d actually already had the audition but you had to be personally approved by him.”
The 35-year-old added: “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, Winslet told Variety magazine that the women speaking out were “incredibly brave” and that their allegations had “been deeply shocking to hear”.
And Dame Judi, 82, who has previously credited Weinstein with helping her career, said in a statement that she was “completely unaware of these offences which are, of course, horrifying and I offer my sympathy to those who have suffered, and wholehearted support to those who have spoken out”.
Actress Streep said in a statement to the Huffington Post that “the disgraceful news about Harvey Weinstein has appalled those of us whose work he championed, and those whose good and worthy causes he supported.
“The intrepid women who raised their voices to expose this abuse are our heroes.”
Days before his sacking, Weinstein issued an apology after claims were made by women with whom he had worked, including Ashley Judd, although he has not directly addressed the allegations.
Weinstein, who co-founded the Weinstein Company alongside his brother Bob in 2005, was dismissed from the studio “with immediate effect” on Sunday.
He had previously announced he was taking a leave of absence after the emergence of the scandal.
Kiss The Girls star Judd and Rose McGowan, who appeared in films including Scream, were among the women involved, according to a New York Times story which first detailed the allegations last week.
In his apology, Weinstein said he appreciated that the way he had behaved with colleagues in the past “has caused a lot of pain” and that he realised he “needed to be a better person”.
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.
“I have since learned it’s not an excuse, in the office – or out of it. To anyone.”