Stars castigates film producer, who is facing sexual harassment allegations and has been sacked by the company he created.
Meryl Streep and Judi Dench have both condemned the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein for his alleged sexual harassment of women, calling the claims “horrifying” and “inexcusable” and describing those who have spoken out against him as “heroes”.
Weinstein was fired by the board of the Weinstein Company on Sunday after it learned of new information about his conduct. The producer had been on a leave of absence after the New York Times published a report that detailed acts of alleged harassment towards multiple women, including actors Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd. Weinstein has expressed regret for his past behaviour but denies many of the allegations made against him and has threatened to sue the New York Times.
Streep, who worked with Weinstein on several films including the Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady, and famously referred to the producer as “God” at the 2012 Golden Globe awards, made her comments in a statement to the Huffington Post.
She denied knowledge of the claims made about Weinstein’s behaviour and the financial settlements which the New York Times claims he made to eight women and praised the “brave” voices who had brought the allegations to light.
“The disgraceful news about Harvey Weinstein has appalled those of us whose work he championed, and those whose good and worthy causes he supported,” Streep said. “The intrepid women who raised their voices … 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.
Meryl Streep speaks out on Harvey Weinstein allegations
“I didn’t know about these other offences: I did not know about his financial settlements with actresses and colleagues; I did not know about his having meetings in his hotel room, his bathroom, or other inappropriate, coercive acts – and if everybody knew, I don’t believe that all the investigative reporters in the entertainment and the hard news media would have neglected for decades to write about it.
“The behaviour is inexcusable, but the abuse of power familiar,” she added. “Each brave voice that is raised, heard and credited by our watchdog media will ultimately change the game.”
Dench sent her sympathy to his accusers.
In a statement, she said: “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.”
The comments by the actors come at a time when much of the entertainment industry has been criticised for its silence about the allegations against Weinstein.
Last weekend’s edition of Saturday Night Live, a show usually known for its willingness to take aim at controversial current affairs topics, failed to mention the producer. The New York Times later reported that writers for the show had prepared jokes about Weinstein but they had been cut by its executive producer, Lorne Michaels. When asked by the Daily Mail why he had cut the jokes, Michaels replied: “It’s a New York thing.”
Other Hollywood figures have criticised Weinstein, however. John Oliver addressed the allegations on his HBO series Last Week Tonight, describing Weinstein’s response to them as “infuriating”, while a number of actors, including Lena Dunham, Patricia Arquette and Mark Ruffalo, have used Twitter to condemn Weinstein’s behaviour.
Weinstein has expressed regret for his inappropriate behaviour towards women stretching back decades, saying: “I own my mistakes,” but his lawyers say he denies many of the allegations made against him.