George Clooney Tears Harvey Weinstein to Pieces in Wide-Ranging New Interview
George Clooney is the latest Hollywood star to speak out against Harvey Weinstein, describing the alleged acts of sexual misconduct carried out by the film producer as “indefensible” and comparing his behaviour to that of President Donald Trump.
Clooney made his comments during an interview with the Daily Beast. The actor said that, despite working with Weinstein on a number of projects including Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, he had never seen any evidence of Weinstein’s alleged behaviour in person. “We’ve had dinners, we’ve been on location together, we’ve had arguments. But I can tell you that I’ve never seen any of this behaviour – ever,” he said. Clooney did admit that he had heard rumours about Weinstein’s conduct in the 1990s but he dismissed them as a means to “smear the actresses” involved.
“The rumours in general started back in the 90s, and they were that certain actresses had slept with Harvey to get a role,” the actor said. “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 rumours with a grain of salt.”
“The other part of this, 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,” he added.
Clooney said that he had “knock-down, drag-out fights” with Weinstein over the years but said that people had tolerated the producer’s notoriously abrasive personality because “he was making films that everybody loved ... if he yells and screams but he gets Pulp Fiction made, who cares if he yells and screams? But it’s a very different conversation when you say, it’s not that he yells and screams but that he’s cornering a young, scared lady in a restaurant and telling her to stand there and be quiet while he jerks off,” he said.
Clooney also responded to widespread suggestions in the rightwing media that Hollywood had turned a blind eye to Weinstein’s behaviour, noting that the Republican right had ignored similar allegations of sexual abuse made against Donald Trump. Trump has been accused of sexual assault by at least 15 women since the 1980s and was recorded boasting about groping women in 2005.
“In ‘liberal’ Hollywood the guy loses his job, but then this other guy [Trump] gets elected president,” Clooney said. He argued that the issue of sexual abuse should be one that both the right and left should take seriously. “I think that rather than politicise it, there should be talk on both sides about the really bad behaviour by powerful men and the horrible acts they commit,” he said
Weinstein was sacked by the board of the Weinstein Company on Monday after it said it had learned of new information about his past behaviour. The producer had previously been on a leave of absence following a report in the New York Times that detailed acts of alleged harassment towards a number of women. Weinstein has apologised for the “pain” he caused, but he and his lawyers have also denied many of the allegations, saying the article was “saturated with false and defamatory statements” and relied “on mostly hearsay accounts”. An attorney and representative for Weinstein – who has not commented since he was sacked on Sunday – did not respond to requests for comment about Brock’s allegations.
Since the allegations surfaced, other women have also claimed acts of abuse at the hands of Weinstein. Actor Romola Garai told the Guardian of an incident with the producer in a hotel room when she was 18 that left her feeling violated, while New Zealand model ZoÃ« Brock accused Weinstein of behaving inappropriately towards her at the Cannes film festival in 1997.
Clooney’s comments come at a time when there has been criticism over the lack of men in Hollywood speaking out against Weinstein’s alleged acts, in contrast to the many female actors who have condemned his behaviour, including Kate Winslet, Judi Dench and Meryl Streep. The Guardian had previously reached out to Clooney, along with 19 other prominent male actors and directors who had worked with Weinstein in the past, but none of those contacted agreed to comment or responded to inquiries.
In the interview with the Daily Beast, Clooney expressed hope that publicising the allegations against Weinstein would serve as a wake-up call to the industry. “Hopefully, this kind of behaviour will end – or become harder and harder for it to continue,” he said. “We’ve seen this type of behaviour in politics, in Silicon Valley, and in corporate America. This is a big problem in our society, that people in power are taking advantage of people not in power – particularly powerful men with young women.”