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Updated Affleck, Jolie and Paltrow condemn Weinstein

10 October 2017 17:52
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Updated Affleck, Jolie and Paltrow condemn Weinstein

After initially facing criticism for his silence on the issue, Ben Affleck has condemned Harvey Weinstein, the producer who helped launch his career, over allegations of sexual harassment.

Meanwhile, in a fast-moving story that has rocked Hollywood, Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie are the latest Hollywood stars to accuse the film mogul of sexual harassment.

Speaking to The New York Times, Paltrow said she was "petrified" when Weinstein propositioned her when she was 22 and preparing for her breakout role in an adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma.

She said: "I was a kid, I was signed up, I was petrified. I thought he was going to fire me."

Jolie said she rejected Weinstein's advances during the release of Playing By Heart in 1998, and vowed never to work with the producer again.

She told the newspaper: "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. This behaviour towards women in any field, any country, is unacceptable."

After initially facing criticism for his silence on the issue, Affleck has also condemned Weinstein.

In a statement on Facebook, Affleck, who had his breakthrough in Weinstein's film Good Will Hunting, said: "I am saddened and angry that a man who I worked with used his position of power to intimidate, sexually harass and manipulate many women over decades. The additional allegations of assault that I read this morning made me sick.

"This is completely unacceptable, and I find myself asking what I can do to make sure this doesn't happen to others. We need to do better at protecting our sisters, friends, co-workers and daughters."

He added: "We must support those who come forward, condemn this type of behaviour when we see it and help ensure there are more women in positions of power."

Also on Tuesday, Oscar-nominated Zero Dark Thirty actress Jessica Chastain spoke out about the sexual harassment allegations against Weinstein, saying she was "warned from the beginning".

Chastain has been heavily engaged with the story on Twitter since The New York Times published a report containing details of Weinstein's pattern of harassment over three decades on October 5. She tweeted on Monday that stories about the producer "were everywhere".

Chastain and a growing list of acclaimed actresses have condemned Weinstein's alleged behaviour publicly, however prominent male stars have been less forthcoming on the subject.

The Guardian newspaper contacted 20 actors and directors who have worked with the producer, including Ben Affleck, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Quentin Tarantino, all of whom failed to respond or declined to comment.

Hollywood A-lister George Clooney, who has known and worked with Weinstein for two decades, has become one of the first high-profile actors to comment on the reports.

He said to The Daily Beast: "I’ve heard rumours, and the rumours in general started back in the '90s, and they were that certain actresses had slept with Harvey to get a role. 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."

"There’s nothing to say except that it’s indefensible", Clooney said, before adding: "I can tell you that I’ve never seen any of this behavior - ever."

Fellow Hollywood A-lister Jennifer Lawrence, who worked with Weinstein on her Oscar-winning film Silver Linings Playbook, denied she had been personally harassed by the producer or had knowledge of his behaviour.

She told The Hollywood Reporter: "I worked with Harvey five years ago and I did not experience any form of harassment personally, nor did I know about any of these allegations.

"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."

Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep has called the alleged sexual harassment by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein "disgraceful", "inexcusable" and an "abuse of power".

The veteran actress, who has worked with Weinstein on films such as August: Osage County and The Iron Lady, for which she won a Best Actress Academy Award, released a statement to The Huffington Post in which she says she did not know that he was engaging in "inappropriate, coercive acts" with actresses or about the financial settlements he paid to women who accused him of harassment and assault.

The statement read: "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 behavior is inexcusable, but the abuse of power familiar. Each brave voice that is raised, heard and credited by our watchdog media will ultimately change the game."

Meanwhile, acclaimed actress Glenn Close admitted to having heard the rumours of Weinstein's behaviour towards women over the years, saying she was deeply upset now they have been substantiated.

She said to The New York Times: "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. Harvey has always been decent to me, but now that the rumors are being substantiated, I feel angry and darkly sad.

"I'm angry, not just at him and the conspiracy of silence around his actions, but also that the 'casting couch' phenomenon, so to speak, is still a reality in our business and in the world: the horrible pressure, the awful expectation put on a woman when a powerful, egotistical, entitled bully expects sexual favors in exchange for a job."

82-year-old British actress Judi Dench, who credited Weinstein with helping her career, also addressed the harassment reports in a statement, which read: "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 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."

In a statement to Variety, Kate Winslet added her voice to the growing number of high-profile stars who are condemning Weinstein's alleged actions, saying: "The fact that these women are starting to speak out about the gross misconduct of one of our most important and well regarded film producers, is incredibly brave and has been deeply shocking to hear.

"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.

"I have no doubt that for these women this time has been, and continues to be extremely traumatic. I fully embrace and salute their profound courage, and I unequivocally support this level of very necessary exposure of someone who has behaved in reprehensible and disgusting ways."

Winslet worked with The Weinstein Company in 2009's The Reader, for which she won the best actress Oscar.

Weinstein issued an apology days before his sacking after a report by The New York Times that said that the 65-year-old reached settlements with eight women who made sexual harassment claims against him.

The producer 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".

Source: rte.ie

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