In the wake of last week’s shocking revelations of years of sexual harassment and assault allegations against indie movie titan Harvey Weinstein, self-satisfied conservatives have made quite the hobby of negging liberal celebrities for condemnations, as though they didn’t put a confessed serial sexual predator in the White House. (Donald Trump Jr. in particular has taken up this mantle, suggesting that “tragic lack of self-awareness” may be an inherited trait.) But two wrongs don’t make a right, and – after, it seems safe to assume, long talks with their “teams” and several drafts of carefully worded statements and rehearsals of sound bytes – stars are beginning to step forward.
Meryl Streep – who starred in the Weinstein Company releases August: Osage County and The Iron Lady, the latter of which won her an Oscar – led the way Monday morning, releasing a statement to Huffington Post, in which she called Weinstein’s actions “disgraceful” and “appalling,” while noting that “not everybody knew” about Weinstein’s behavior, and the financial settlements intended to keep it quiet. ‘The behavior is inexcusable, but the abuse of power familiar,” Streep wrote. “Each brave voice that is raised, heard and credited by our watchdog media will ultimately change the game.”
Glenn Close issued a statement to the New York Times, taking a different approach to the “everybody knew” question. “I’m sitting here, deeply upset, acknowledging to myself that, yes, for many years, I have been aware of the vague rumors that Harvey Weinstein had a pattern of behaving inappropriately around women,” Close wrote. “Harvey has always been decent to me, but now that the rumors are being substantiated, I feel angry and darkly sad… I applaud the monumental courage of the women who have spoken up. I hope that their stories and the reportage that gave them their voices represents a tipping point, that more stories will be told and that change will follow.”
“His behaviour is without question disgraceful and appalling and very, very wrong,” Kate Winslet wrote, in a statement to Variety. “I had hoped that these kind of stories were just made up rumours, maybe we have all been naïve. And it makes me so angry. There must be ‘no tolerance’ of this degrading, vile treatment of women in ANY workplace anywhere in the world.” Winslet starred in the Weinstein Company release The Reader, for which she won the Oscar for Best Actress.
Judi Dench, who won an Oscar for the Weinstein-produced Shakespeare in Love, told Newsweek, “Whilst there is no doubt that Harvey Weinstein has helped and championed my film career for the past 20 years, I was completely unaware of these offenses which are, of course, horrifying, and I offer my sympathy to those who have suffered, and wholehearted support to those who have spoken out.”
Jennifer Lawrence, who won Best Actress for the Weinstein Company’s Silver Linings Playbook, released a statement to People. “This kind of abuse is inexcusable and absolutely upsetting… My heart goes out to all of the women affected by these gross actions. And I want to thank them for their bravery to come forward.”
And George Clooney, who had his first major starring role and first directorial outing in Weinstein-produced efforts (From Dusk Till Dawn and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, respectively) spoke out in an interview with The Daily Beast. “I’ve heard rumors, and the rumors in general started back in the ’90s, and they were that certain actresses had slept with Harvey to get a role,” Clooney said. “It seemed like a way to smear the actresses and demean them by saying that they didn’t get the jobs based on their talent, so I took those rumors 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. That’s a whole other level and there’s no way you can reconcile that. There’s nothing to say except that it’s indefensible.”
Kevin Smith, who directed several films for Miramax and The Weinstein Company, tweeted:
Mark Ruffalo, who appeared in two Miramax releases early in his career, tweeted:
And Jessica Chastain, whose films The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby and Lawless were distributed (but, she stressed, not produced) by The Weinstein Company, noted:
Several key Weinstein collaborators have not yet commented on the scandal, but this first burst of condemnations may clear the way. (Matt Damon and Russell Crowe are particularly under pressure to speak out; a piece by The Wrap’s Sharon Waxman alleges that the two actors helped spike a piece she attempted to run in The New York Times in 2004 about one of the payoffs. But the Times has disputed that account, and Clooney wonders why she didn’t subsequently run it on her own site.)