Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie, two of the biggest names in Hollywood, have revealed that they were once subjected to unwanted sexual advances from fallen producer Harvey Weinstein.
The New York Times published their accounts along with stories from Patricia Arquette and four other women on Tuesday, less than a week after the newspaper reported that the longtime head of the Weinstein Company had paid off at least eight women accusing him of sexual harassment over three decades.
Weinstein, one of the most powerful people in the entertainment industry, was fired from his company on Sunday, after he had both denied the allegations and publicly apologized in a statement. He apologized for the way he had treated colleagues in the past and said he “came of age in the ’60s and ‘70s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.” He planned to seek counseling and work to become a “better man.”
Paltrow told her story for the first time. She was 22, preparing for her first role in one of Weinstein’s movies, Emma, and she was told to meet the studio head of the former Miramax in his suite at his regular place, the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, for a meeting. At the end of it, she claimed, Weinstein put his hands on her and suggested they go to his bedroom for massages — something that other women have also noted he did to them.
“I was a kid, I was signed up, I was petrified,” Paltrow said.
Paltrow refused, she told the newspaper, but she told her boyfriend at the time, Brad Pitt, who confirmed for the Times that he had confronted the mogul and told him never to touch her again. Weinstein told Paltrow not to tell anyone else about what had happened, and she was afraid that she would be fired from her starring role in Emma if she spoke up.
“[Harvey] screamed at me for a long time,” Paltrow said. “It was brutal.”
Pitt later married Angelina Jolie, who also spoke with the Times.
“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,” Jolie wrote in a statement. “This behavior towards women in any field, any country, is unacceptable.”
The accounts came within hours of a New Yorker story revealing three women’s claims that Weinstein raped them. Four women cited in the piece alleged that Weinstein exposed himself to them or masturbated in front of them. Meanwhile, actress and screenwriter Louisette Geiss revealed Weinstein had tried to force her to watch him masturbate while she was pitching a movie at the Sundance Film Festival in 2008.
“We went to his office and had a great conversation about his current film and about the film I was pitching,” she said in a statement delivered at a news conference on Tuesday with her lawyer, Gloria Allred, by her side. “He seemed genuinely interested in the script I had co-written. After 30 minutes he excused himself to go to the bathroom.
“He returned in a robe with the front open, buck-naked,” she explained. “He told me to keep talking about my film and that he was going to get into his hot tub, which was in the room adjacent to his office, steps away. I kept talking as he got into the hot tub. When I finished my pitch, he asked me to watch him masturbate. I told him I was leaving. He quickly got out of the hot tub. As I went to get my purse to leave, he grabbed my forearm and pulled me to his bathroom and pleaded with me to watch him masturbate. My heart was racing, and I was very scared.”
On Monday, George Clooney, another powerful voice in the entertainment industry, told the Daily Beast that Weinstein’s actions were “indefensible.”
“A lot of people are doing the ‘you had to know’ thing right now, and, yes, if you’re asking if I knew that someone who was very powerful had a tendency to hit on young, beautiful women, sure,” Clooney said. “But I had no idea that it had gone to the level of having to pay off eight women for their silence, and that these women were threatened and victimized.”