Tuesday 11 December 2018

'The look on my face is abject terror - I see it in my eyes'

Actress Judd in emotional first TV interview on the Weinstein scandal

Actress Ashley Judd was one of the first women to publicly accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment. Photo: Getty
Actress Ashley Judd was one of the first women to publicly accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment. Photo: Getty

Nick Allen in Washington

Actress Ashley Judd, one of the first women to publicly accuse Hollywood giant Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment, has given her first TV interview about the unfolding scandal, going into more detail about her alleged encounter with Weinstein, and why she felt unable to go public at the time it occurred.

Speaking to Diane Sawyer, Judd recalled an incident she relayed in a 'New York Times' piece in early October, in which she alleged that she entered a hotel room in 1997 for a business meeting with Weinstein, which ended in the mogul suggesting she give him a massage or watch him shower.

Film mogul Harvey Weinstein. Photo: Pascal Le Segretain
Film mogul Harvey Weinstein. Photo: Pascal Le Segretain

"I had no warning," Judd said. "I remember the lurch when I went to the desk, and I said, 'Uh, Mr Weinstein, is he on the patio?' And they said, 'He's in his room', and I was like - [sigh] are you kidding me?"

Defending her decision to go to his room, Judd said, firmly: "I had a business appointment. Which is his pattern of sexual predation. It's how he rolled."

Adding of the encounter, Judd said: "There's this constant grooming/negotiation going on. I thought no meant no. I fought with this volley of nos, which he ignored. Who knows? Maybe he'd heard them as maybe, maybe he heard them as yeses, maybe they turned him on, I don't know."

Judd told Sawyer that she ended up bartering with Weinstein in order to get out of the room, recalling that she said that if Weinstein wanted to touch her, she would have to win an Oscar for a role in one of his movies.

Asked why she did such a thing, Judd said: "Am I proud of that? I'm of two minds. The part that shames myself says no. The part of me that understands the way shame works says, 'That was absolutely brilliant; good job, kid; you got out of there, well done'. It's a very important word: shame. And it's a very important thing to talk about. So we all do the best we can. And our best is good enough. And it's really OK to have responded however we responded."

She also recalled an incident in 1999 in which Weinstein reminded her of their "agreement". At a dinner party, Judd remembered being sat across from him when he told her, "'Remember that little agreement we made? Think I've got that script for you. Hey, just looking around for the material'.

"I had just reached the up with which I could not put," she recalled. "I had come into my own, I had come into my power, I had found my voice, and I was coming right at him, Diane.

"And he looked at me, across the table, and said, 'You know, Ashley, I'm gonna let you out of that little agreement that we made'. And I said, 'You do that, Harvey, you do that'. And he has spat my name at me ever since."

Asked why she didn't come forward at the time, Judd said that she had privately spoken about the incident to agents, fellow actors and other Hollywood figures, but felt she couldn't go public with the accusation.

"If I could go back retrospectively with a magic wand and say, 'I wish I could prevent, I wish I could prevent it for anyone, always' ... I don't know if I would have been believed.

"And who was I to tell? I knew it was disgusting. Like was I gonna tell the concierge who sent me up to the room?"

Judd also rejected a statement Weinstein made following her allegation, in which he claimed the pair were friends, something he tried to support by producing a photograph showing the pair at an event in 1997.

He also said: "I know Ashley Judd is going through a tough time right now, I read her book, in which she talks about being the victim of sexual abuse and depression as a child.

"Her life story was brutal, and I have to respect her. In a year from now, I am going to reach out to her."

"No," Judd said in response to Weinstein's statement. "That's... deny, attack, reverse the order of offender and victim."

Sawyer also produced a second photograph of the pair at the same event, which Judd claimed shows the encounter in a different light.

"Ick!" Judd responded, before recalling the night in question: "I hoped I wouldn't pass him, but I did, and he obviously grabbed my hand. It's like, the look on my face is abject terror. Like I can see it in my eyes... it's very gross. I feel for that 28/29-year-old woman."

Despite her feelings about Weinstein, Judd told Sawyer that she believed he has the capability to change, revealing that if she saw him again she would say: "I love you and I understand that you are sick and suffering, and there is help for a guy like you. And it's entirely up to you to get that help."

Asked to elaborate on her positive stance, Judd said: "It's frankly an easier way to roll through the world than the alternative." (© Daily Telegraph, London)


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