In a searing Op-Ed in the New York Times on Tuesday, Salma Hayek became the latest Hollywood personality to accuse producer Harvey Weinstein of harassment and sexual misconduct.
“For years, he was my monster,” the Mexican-American actress wrote, detailing multiple unwanted sexual advances by Weinstein that took place around the filming of the 2002 biopic on Frida Kahlo, in which Hayek starred as the Mexican painter. Hayek’s refusal to those advances would be met with Weinstein’s “Machiavellian rage,” she wrote, and at one time, he allegedly threatened her with death, saying, “I will kill you, don’t think I can’t”.
In a statement on Wednesday, Weinstein’s spokesperson denied the allegations. “All of the sexual allegations as portrayed by Salma are not accurate and others who witnessed the events have a different account of what transpired,” the Deadline quoted the statement as saying.
Hayek, who was also one of the film’s producers, said she had approached Miramax, Weinstein’s company at the time, to sell the distribution rights of Frida.
“The Weinstein empire, which was then Miramax, had become synonymous with quality, sophistication and risk taking – a haven for artists who were complex and defiant,” she wrote. “It was everything that Frida was to me and everything I aspired to be.
“In my naïveté, I thought my dream had come true,” she added. “He had validated the last 14 years of my life. He had taken a chance on me – a nobody. He had said yes. Little did I know it would become my turn to say no.”
Hayek said she had to repeatedly turn down an array of advances, including requests for oral sex, massages and taking a shower with him.
Hayek alleged that when she did not comply with his demands, he tried to remove her from her production. “When he was finally convinced that I was not going to earn the movie the way he had expected, he told me he had offered my role and my script with my years of research to another actress,” she said. When she approached her lawyers, Weinstein, to make his legal position more tenable, agreed to continue his association with the movie only if she met a list of astronomical demands, including a rewrite of the script, casting prominent actors in smaller roles and raising $10 million for the movie.
“Much to everyone’s amazement, not least my own, I delivered, thanks to a phalanx of angels who came to my rescue, including Edward Norton, who beautifully rewrote the script several times and appallingly never got credit, and my friend Margaret Perenchio, a first-time producer, who put up the money,” Hayek wrote.
Once the filming began, Weinstein often berated the actress on set and “threatened to shut down the movie” as “the only thing I had going for me was my sex appeal and that there was none of that in this movie,” Hayek wrote.
He then agreed to let her finish the movie only if she agreed to a sex scene with another woman. Weinstein demanded full-frontal nudity, Hayek claimed. “But this time, it was clear to me he would never let me finish this movie without him having his fantasy one way or another,” she wrote. “There was no room for negotiation.”
Hayek added that the day the scene was to be filmed, she had a nervous breakdown.
Weinstein’s statement said he “does not recall” pressurising the actress into doing such a scene.
The actress said she did not speak up about the allegations earlier because she had been “brainwashed...into thinking it was over” and that it was an ordeal she had survived. “I hid from the responsibility to speak out with the excuse that enough people were already involved in shining a light on my monster. I didn’t consider my voice important, nor did I think it would make a difference.”
“In reality, I was trying to save myself the challenge of explaining several things to my loved ones,” she added. “Why, when I had casually mentioned that I had been bullied like many others by Harvey, I had excluded a couple of details. And why, for so many years, we have been cordial to a man who hurt me so deeply.”
Slew of allegations
Ashley Judd, who was Hayek’s co-star in Frida, was among the first group of women who detailed their alleged experiences of harassment by Weinstein, which first came to light in reports by the New Yorker and the New York Times in October. Since then, the disgraced Hollywood mogul has been accused of sexual harassment, including charges of rape, by more than 50 women and has been removed from his position at The Weinstein Company and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He was also banned for life from the Producers Guild of America and resigned from the Directors Guild of America.
Later reports revealed that Weinstein had used non disclosure agreements and financial settlements to silence some of his alleged victims.
Weinstein’s representatives have denied these allegations, in many cases saying that the producer “has a different recollection of the events.’’