Meryl Streep with Weinstein. The actress had no idea of Weinstein’s predatory actions towards women. (Video grab, Youtube/Micro171)
HOLLYWOOD: Meryl Streep, the most admired actress in the entertainment industry, on Monday criticised Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein for “inexcusable behaviour” but said she was unaware of any talk about his alleged sexual harassment of women.
Streep, who has won three Oscars, had been under pressure to speak out after a New York Times investigation last week detailed claims by multiple women of unwanted physical and harassment by Weinstein over three decades.
Dame Judi Dench also issued a statement saying she was “completely unaware” of the “horrifying” claims.
Now that Weinstein has been exposed by others, the British actress praised those who had spoken up.
“I offer my sympathy to those who have suffered, and wholehearted support to those who have spoken out,” she said.
Dame Judi “joked” in 2011 that she had Weinstein’s name tattooed on her buttocks.
While accepting an award from the British Film Institute in London, she said the award “was thanks to Harvey, whose name I have had tattooed on my bum ever since”. But she knew nothing about his career as a predator.
Dame Judi Dench with Weinstein. She had no idea what he was doing. (Photo Twitter/)
In a statement to the Hollywood website ew (formerly Entertainment Weekly) Dame Judi wrote: “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.”
Weinstein, 65, initially apologised but later threatened to sue. He was fired on Sunday as co-chairman of the Weinstein Co because of the fallout from the Times story but has not been charged with any crimes.
Streep, who in 2012 called Weinstein “God” in a Golden Globe acceptance speech and appeared in numerous films produced by him, said the “disgraceful news about Harvey Weinstein has appalled those of us whose work he championed.”
But Streep said in a statement to the Huffington Post website that she did not know about the reported claims that he had undressed in front of actresses and assistants or asked young women to give him massages.
“Harvey supported the work fiercely, was exasperating but respectful with me in our working relationship, and with many others with whom he worked professionally,” Streep said.
“I did not know about his having meetings in his hotel room, his bathroom, or other inappropriate, coercive acts.”
Actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan are among those who have said Weinstein sexually harassed them. Other Hollywood heavyweights, including director Judd Apatow and producer Megan Ellison, have spoken out in support of the women.
“The behaviour is inexcusable, but the abuse of power familiar,” Steep said. “Each brave voice that is raised, heard and credited by our watchdog media will ultimately change the game.”
Hillary Clinton with Weinstein in 2012. She had no idea what Weinstein was doing to hundreds of women. (File photo)
Weinstein, who produced or distributed Oscar-winning movies like Shakespeare in Love and Chicago, is the latest US media or entertainment industry titan to face sexual harassment accusations.
Dame Judi was the star of Shakespeare in Love and had absolutely no knowledge of what Weinstein was up to.
At Fox News, late Chief Executive Officer Roger Ailes was forced out of the company in 2016 after being accused of sexual harassment, and popular anchor Bill O’Reilly had to resign in April on similar grounds. Both denied the allegations.
More than 50 women have accused comedian Bill Cosby of sexual assault. He faces a retrial in April on the one criminal case against him.
The Weinstein Co will rename itself following the firing of co-chairman Harvey Weinstein over sexual harassment allegations.
The name change is expected to take some time, but “it will happen.”
The Weinstein Co is also moving to pull Weinstein’s name from the credits of several upcoming television series, oncluding Waco and Yellowstone
The Weinstein Co board of directors on Sunday fired Weinstein after an expose detailing decades of sexual harassment.