Harvey Weinstein Was Not Only A Cinephile But Also A Monster, Says Salma Hayek

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Rob Latour/Variety/REX/Shutterstock (8559704b)
Salma Hayek
Lionsgate presentation, CinemaCon, Las Vegas, USA - 30 Mar 2017

Salma Hayek Pinault is a Mexican and American film actress, producer, and former model. Her breakthrough role was in the 2002 film Frida as Mexican painter Frida Kahlo for which she was nominated in the category of Best Actress for an Academy Award, BAFTA Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, and Golden Globe Award.

When reporters approached Salma, through different sources, to speak about an episode in her life that, although it is painful, she thought she made peace with. Salma says that, she was trying to save herself from the challenges of explaining several things to her most loved ones.

She was surprised that why, for so many years, she has been cordial to a man who hurt her so deeply. She had been proud of herself because of the capacity she had to forgive him. But, the mere fact is, she was ashamed to describe the details of what she had experienced. She refused to say it out because she felt it was nothing but a drop in an ocean of sorrow and confusion.

When so many women came forward to describe what Harvey had done to them, She was inspired by those who had the courage to speak out, especially in a society that elected a president who has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by more than a dozen women and whom we have all heard make a statement about how a man in power can do anything he wants to women.

She wonders that it was my friendship with Quentin Tarantino and George Clooney that saved her from being raped. The deal made initially was that, Harvey would pay for the rights of work that Salma had already developed. As an actress, she gets minimum Screen Actors Guild scale plus 10 percent. As a producer, she receives a credit, but no payment, which was not that rare for a female producer in the ’90s.

Harvey also demanded a signed deal for her to do several other films with Miramax, which would cement her status as a leading lady. As soon as she heard the offer she did not even cared about money, but she was excited to work with him and the company, as it could help in making her dreams true.

She says “I don’t think he hated anything more than the word “no.” The absurdity of his demands went from getting a furious call in the middle of the night asking me to fire my agent for a fight he was having with him about a different movie with a different client to physically dragging me out of the opening gala of the Venice Film Festival, which was in honor of “Frida,” so I could hang out at his private party with him and some women I thought were models but I was told later were high-priced prostitutes. In his eyes, I was not an artist. I wasn’t even a person. I was a thing: not a nobody, but a body”.

She said that, in the sets of shooting Harvey asked everyone in the room to step out except her. He told her that the only thing she had going for her was her sex appeal and that there was none of that in this movie. So he told that he was going to shut down the film because no one would want to see Salma in that role. That moment was soul crushing to her. She wanted him to see her as an artist: not only as a capable actress but also as somebody who could identify a compelling story and had the vision to tell it in an original way. She hoped that at least he would acknowledge her as a producer. The only thing he noticed was that she was not sexy in the movie. He made her to think that if she was a good actress, but he never succeeded in making her think like that and the film wasn’t worthy. Later he offered Salma one option to continue in this movie if she agrees to do a sex scene with another woman.

He had been constantly asking for more skin, for more sex. Once before, Julie Taymor got him to settle for a tango ending in a kiss instead of the lovemaking scene he wanted us to shoot between the character Tina Modotti, played by Ashley Judd, and Frida. 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. There was no room for negotiation.

Staff around her had no knowledge of conversation with Harvey and she cannot explain. They were very surprised by her struggle that morning on sets. It was because she would be naked with another woman for Harvey Weinstein. By the time the filming of the movie was over, she was so emotionally distraught thought that she had to distance herself during the postproduction. When Harvey saw the cut film, he said it was not good enough for a theatrical release and that he would send it straight to video.

Months later, in October 2002, this film, gave him a box office success that no one could have predicted, and despite his lack of support, added six Academy Award nominations to his collection, including best actress. He never offered her, a starring role in a movie again. Later she was obliged to some minor supporting roles in films. Finally, he said to Salma “You did well with ‘Frida’; we did a beautiful movie.”

After saying all these she questioned “But why do so many like me, as female artists, have to go to war to tell our stories when we have so much to offer? Why do we have to fight tooth and nail to maintain our dignity? I think it is because we, as women, have been devalued artistically to an indecent state, to the point where the film industry stopped making an effort to find out what female audiences wanted to see and what stories we wanted to tell”.

According to a research between 2007 and 2016, there are only 4 percent of female directors. In those only 80 percent of women got chance to make the film that too only once. In 2016, the study has stated that only 27 percent of words spoken in the biggest movies were spoken by women. The community will continue to be a fertile ground for predators, if there is no equality for men and women in each and every aspect of the industry. Salma felt that “the statistics are self-explanatory, for the reason why our voices are not welcome”. She said that she is grateful for everyone who is listening to her experiences. She says  “I hope that adding my voice to the chorus of those who are finally speaking out will shed light on why it is so difficult, and why so many of us have waited so long. Men sexually harassed because they could”. At the end she said finally “women are talking today because, in this new era, we finally can”.

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