George Clooney became one of the first prominent male stars to condemn Harvey Weinstein’s “indefensible” behavior as a spate of sexual misconduct allegations engulfs the producer.
In an interview for The Daily Beast published on Monday, the actor-director said he had heard long-running rumors about the Hollywood mogul and young actresses, but dismissed it as attempts to smear the stars in question and downplay their talent.
“I’ve heard rumors, and the rumors in general started back in the ’90s, and they were that certain actresses had slept with Harvey to get a role. It seemed like a way to smear the actresses and demean them by saying that they didn’t get the jobs based on their talent, so I took those rumors with a grain of salt,” Clooney said.
To accusations that he “should have known” about Weinstein’s behavior, given their close professional relationship over a number of years, Clooney said that he never knew the full story, in particular, he was unaware of the payoffs Weinstein made over the years to eight women who had made complaints, a revelation that was detailed in the bombshell New York Times story last weekend. “[The] part we’re hearing now about eight women being paid off, I didn’t hear anything about that and I don’t know anyone that did. That’s a whole other level and there’s no way you can reconcile that. There’s nothing to say except that it’s indefensible,” Clooney told The Daily Beast.
Clooney has known Weinstein for 20 years, he said the producer had given him his big break in film acting with From Dusk Till Dawn and directing with Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Clooney said that he and Weinstein spent a lot of time at dinners and on location but that he had never witnessed anything untoward himself. “I can tell you that I’ve never seen any of this behavior—ever.”
Since the publication of the Times expose, many have called Weinstein’s behavior an industry secret that was widely known, though never reported.
The Oscar-winning star spoke to the outlet after a slew of actresses who have also worked with Weinstein released statements. Meryl Streep, Judi Dench and Jennifer Lawrence, who have all won Oscars for Weinstein-produced films, said they were unaware of the accusations.
Streep, who referred to Weinstein as “God” in an acceptance speech and collaborated with him on films like August: Osage County and The Iron Lady, the latter for which she won an Oscar, — told The Huffington Post that she was unaware of the producer’s “inappropriate, coercive acts,” and called them “disgraceful,” “inexcusable,” and an “abuse of power.” Dench, who has a longstanding collaborative relationship with Weinstein and admitted in 2011 to having a temporary tattoo dedicated to the mogul, also said she was unaware of the “horrifying” offenses.
Lawrence told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement that she had worked with Weinstein on Silver Linings Playbook, a film that led to her winning an Oscar, but denied that she had been harassed personally or had knowledge of other people being harassed.
The growing chorus of dissent against Weinstein also includes actresses such as Rose McGowan, Kate Winslet, Jessica Chastain, Glenn Close, Olivia Wilde, Emmy Rossum, Amber Tamblyn, America Ferrera, Kathy Griffin, Brie Larson, Patricia Arquette, Lena Dunham and more.
In an op-ed, also for the Times, published on Monday ahead of Clooney’s interview with The Daily Beast, Dunham called on the men in Hollywood to start speaking up, somethingMcGowan, Chastain and Mindy Kaling have all echoed. “Here we are, days later, waiting for Mr. Weinstein’s most powerful collaborators to say something. Anything,” she wrote after detailing how she was sexually harassed by a director of a TV show that wasn’t her own last year. “It wouldn’t be just a gift to the women he has victimized, but a message to the women who are watching our industry closely. They need a signal that we do not approve of the abuse of power and hatred of women that is the driving force behind this kind of behavior.”
Earlier on Monday, The Guardian had published a list of more than 20 male actors and directorswho had collaborated with Weinstein who did not respond to their request for comments. Among the list of names is Quentin Tarantino, Michael Moore, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Bradley Cooper. Also among the names, along with Clooney’s, was Lin Manuel-Miranda, who took to Twitter shortly after to say he was “appalled” and “repulsed” by the accusations and that it was his fault he missed the Guardian request, as he had asked his team to keep any press not related to Puerto Rico relief off his desk.
Oct. 10, 6:30 a.m. Updated with Lin Manuel-Miranda tweet, Lena Dunham op-ed
This article was originally published on The Hollywood Reporter.