Disgraced former studio boss Harvey Weinstein has been mostly silent lately about the dozens of allegations of sexual assault and misconduct lodged against him by a number of actresses over the past few months. But on Wednesday (Dec. 13), the once powerful Miramax/The Weinstein Company head fired back with a detailed response to a shocking New York Times op-ed posted earlier in the day by Salma Hayek in which the actress alleged that Weinstein pressured her into a lesbian sex scene in the Miramax biopic Frida, along with allegations that he asked her to shower with him, to let him watch her shower, give him a massage or let him giver her oral sex.
Hayek also claimed that Weinstein once threatened to kill her following one of her serial refusals of his advances and that he verbally insulted her on the set of the 2002 film. In a statement released to USA Today through a spokesperson, Weinstein said that “all of the sexual allegations portrayed by Salma are not accurate and others who witnessed the events have a different account of what transpired.” Weinstein initially issued an apology unspecified past actions, but has vehemently denied claims that he sexually assaulted or raped any of the women who have accused him of those crimes.
Among the demands Hayek alleged that Weinstein made and which she refused were: “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.”
Hayek said she eventually agreed to the alleged demand from Weinstein that he would let her finish the film if she “agreed to do a sex scene with another woman” that included full-frontal nudity, noting that she was not troubled the day of shooting the scene because she would be naked with another woman, but because “I would be naked with her for Harvey Weinstein.” In his statement, Weinstein said he could not recall pressuring Hayek to do a “gratuitous sex scene” with her female costar and that he was not on set for the filming of the scene.
Weinstein also noted that Jennifer Lopez was interested in the role at the time and was “a bigger star,” but that he “overruled other investors” to back Hayek as the lead. The once-feared studio mogul — whose alleged decades-long trail of sexual impropriety helped spark the still-unfolding #MeToo movement that has exposed allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against dozens of prominent figures in entertainment, sports, media and politics — admitted in his response to some unspecified “boorish” behavior following screening of Frida, but chalked that up to his “disappointment in the cut of the movie.”
Weinstein’s full statement:
Mr. Weinstein regards Salma Hayek as a first-class actress and cast her in several of his movies, among them Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Dogma, and Studio 54. He was very proud of her Best Actress Academy Award nomination for Frida and continues to support her work.
While Jennifer Lopez was interested in playing Frida and at the time was a bigger star, Mr. Weinstein overruled other investors to back Salma as the lead. Miramax put up half of the money and all of the P&A; the budget was over 12 million. As in most collaborative projects, there was creative friction on Frida, but it served to drive the project to perfection. The movie opened in multiple theaters and was supported by a huge advertising campaign and an enormous Academy Awards budget.
Mr. Weinstein does not recall pressuring Salma to do a gratuitous sex scene with a female costar and he was not there for the filming. However, that was part of the story, as Frida Kahlo was bisexual and the more significant sex scene in the movie was choreographed by Ms. Hayek with Geoffrey Rush. The original uni-brow used was an issue because it diverted attention from the performances. 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.
Ed Norton, who was Ms. Hayek’s boyfriend at the time, (worked with Mr. Weinstein on the rewrite of the script in Mexico) did a brilliant job of rewriting the script and Mr. Weinstein battled the WGA to get him a credit on the film. His effort was unsuccessful to everyone’s disappointment.
By Mr. Weinstein’s own admission, his boorish behavior following a screening of Frida was prompted by his disappointment in the cut of the movie—and a reason he took a firm hand in the final edit, alongside the very skilled director Julie Taymor.