Thursday 23 November 2017

Stars including Judi Dench and Meryl Streep come out to condemn fallen movie mogul Weinstein after string of abuse claims

Harvey Weinstein with his wife, fashion designer Georgina Chapman, at the 2017 Vanity Fair Oscar Party. Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty
Harvey Weinstein with his wife, fashion designer Georgina Chapman, at the 2017 Vanity Fair Oscar Party. Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty

Nick Allen

Harvey Weinstein became a Hollywood pariah last night as stars including Judi Dench and Meryl Streep said they were "horrified and appalled" by his alleged sexual harassment of other actresses.

It took four days for the floodgates of condemnation to open after the accusations against Weinstein, including that he had settled eight legal cases over several decades, were made public.

One of his accusers, the actress Rose McGowan, had pointed to a "deafening" lack of support from Hollywood's elite, saying they were complicit in a "30-year cover up".

But the wall of silence came crashing down as the movie mogul was unceremoniously fired by his own studio, The Weinstein Company.

In the UK there were calls for Weinstein to be stripped of the honorary CBE he was awarded for his contribution the British film industry.

Theresa May yesterday said she was "concerned" about the allegations. "On the issue of honours that's an independent process carried out by the forfeiture committee. Each case is considered on its merits," a spokesman said.

Actress Hayley Atwell. Photo: Getty Images
Actress Hayley Atwell. Photo: Getty Images

Judi Dench, who previously credited Weinstein with reviving her film career, said: "Whilst there is no doubt that Harvey Weinstein has helped and championed my career for the past 20 years, I 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."

She had been a long-time collaborator of Weinstein's after winning an Oscar in 1999 for her performance as Elizabeth I in the Weinstein film Shakespeare in Love.

Dench subsequently received Oscar nominations for five more Weinstein-distributed films.

In 2014 she described embarrassing the studio boss by having her make-up artist tattoo his name on her rear.

"I actually got up and showed him! I've never seen a man more embarrassed and I've never let him forget it," she told 'The Hollywood Reporter'.

Streep, another Weinstein collaborator, also broke her silence.

She won an Oscar for playing Margaret Thatcher in 'The Iron Lady', which was distributed by The Weinstein Company. In an acceptance speech for that role at the Golden Globes in 2012 she thanked Weinstein, jokingly referring to him as "God, the punisher, Old Testament, I guess".

Streep denied previously knowing anything about his behaviour and called the women speaking out against him "heroes".

She said: "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.

"One thing can be clarified. Not everybody knew. Harvey supported the work fiercely, was exasperating but respectful with me in our working relationship, and with many others with whom he worked professionally. The behaviour is inexcusable but the abuse of power familiar."

Amid calls for male actors to condemn the studio boss, Oscar nominee Mark Rufallo said: "To be clear, what Harvey Weinstein did was a disgusting abuse of power and horrible."

Other stars to speak out included Jessica Chastain, Susan Sarandon, Julianne Moore, Heather Graham and Michael Keaton.

Allegations emerged on Sunday that Mr Weinstein told British actress Hayley Atwell that she looked "like a fat pig" during a lunch for the cast an crew of 'Brideshead Revisited' in 2007. Weinstein stared flirting with the then 24-year-old actress, who was playing Julia Flyte in the movie. He then told her to watch what she was eating because "you look like a fat pig on screen", according to allegations published by the 'New York Post'.

According to an article published by 'The New York Times on Thursday, the film chief appeared naked in front of staff.

Ashley Judd, the actress, told the newspaper he lured her to a hotel room and asked her to massage him or watch him shower.

Weinstein has admitted to having caused "a lot of pain" and apologised, saying he is undergoing therapy.

He has also threatened to sue The New York Times for "reckless reporting".

Since the article was published several other women have publicly made allegations of sexual harassment.

In a statement The Weinstein Company said their co-founder was "terminated, effective immediately". Among those now in control will be his brother Bob Weinstein. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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