When news of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct hit the headlines in October, Hollywood changed forever. The glittering land of bright lights and shimmering stars was suddenly plunged into darkness as countless women and men came forward to denounce powerful figures in the entertainment industry who had abused their position of power to take advantage of aspiring actors.
From Kevin Spacey to Dustin Hoffman, the allegations proved that nobody was safe, no matter how many awards they had to their name. Just like a standout performer at an awards show, Harvey Weinstein’s name was constantly on the lips of the industry after stars including Rose McGowan, Angelina Jolie, and Gwyneth Paltrow shamed him for his inappropriate sexual advances, which they’d all been a victim of. But the most damning story came from Dusk Til Dawn actress, Salma Hayek, who claimed that Weinstein had once threatened to kill her. The Mexican-born actress arrived in Hollywood in 1991 after an extremely successful career as a Mexican soap star. Aware that getting a ‘big break’ in the industry with her heritage was going to be a challenge, Hayek worked tirelessly to make a name for herself. That chance came in 2002 when she played Frida Kahlo in the Academy Award-nominated Frida. The movie, which was distributed by Miramax (the company Weinstein founded with his brother, Bob, before they left in 2005 to found The Weinstein Company), would be Hayek’s first time working closely with Harvey Weinstein. “All I knew of Harvey at the time was that he had a remarkable intellect, he was a loyal friend and a family man,” she wrote in a piece for The New York Times. “I had started a journey to produce the [movie] with a different company, but I fought to get it back to take it to Harvey.” “I did not care about the money; I was so excited to work with him and that company,” she wrote. “My dream had come true. 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.”
“No to opening the door to him at all hours of the night, hotel after hotel, location after location, where he would show up unexpectedly, including one location where I was doing a movie he wasn’t even involved with. No to me taking a shower with him.”
“No to letting him watch me take a shower. No to letting him give me a massage. No to letting a naked friend of his give me a massage. No to letting him give me oral sex. No to my getting naked with another woman. No, no, no, no, no … And with every refusal came Harvey’s Machiavellian rage,” the actress continued. “I don’t think he hated anything more than the word ‘no’.” “The range of his persuasion tactics went from sweet-talking me to that one time when, in an attack of fury, he said the terrifying words, ‘I will kill you, don’t think I can’t’,” the 51-year-old actress recalled. After much harassment from Weinstein and several threats that he’d shut down the movie if she didn’t comply with his demands, he reportedly gave her an ultimatum. “He offered me one option to continue. He would let me finish the movie if I agreed to do a sex scene with another woman. And he demanded full-frontal nudity.”
“It was clear to me he would never let me finish this movie without him having his fantasy one way or another. There was no room for negotiation. I had to say yes.”
Whilst shooting the scene, which featured none other than Ashley Judd, Hayek was physically sick. “It was not because I would be naked with another woman. It was because I would be naked with her for Harvey Weinstein,” she explained. After her story was read across the world, this week Harvey Weinstein’s reputation was blackened even further – if that was possible. However, in a surprise move, the disgraced movie mogul responded. In a statement to BuzzFeed‘s Kate Arthur, a Weinstein spokesperson claimed that he denies “all of the sexual allegations as portrayed by Salma.” The representative goes on to say that Weinstein fought for Hayek to play the lead role, despite the investor’s insistence that the role was to be played by Jennifer Lopez – a reportedly much more bankable star. “Mr. Weinstein does not recall pressuring Salma to do a gratuitous sex scene with a female costar, and he was not there for filming,” the statement added, before going on to say that the sex scene was “part of the story, as Frida Kahlo was bisexual.” “As in most collaborative projects, there was creative friction on Frida, but it served to drive the project to perfection,” the representative said. “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.” Based upon the allegations against Weinstein, many people have found it hard to believe the statement released on his behalf. Regardless of how these events really did transpire, it is clear that Weinstein abused his power in the entertainment industry, and we should all be thankful to those who brought his behavior to the attention of the masses.