We're currently in the midst of a remarkable wave of sexual harassment cases, with people getting called out for their behavior and facing the consequences. This wave seemed to begin with the rash of allegations levied against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. In an article in the New York Times, Rose McGowan, Ashley Judd, and others revealed a laundry list of ways Weinstein abused his position of power on order to harass or assault women. He was accused of making women give him massages, attempting to exchange career advancement for sexual favors...and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
In addition, director Peter Jackson (Lord Of The Rings) confirmed that Weinstein had attempted to sabotage the careers of women who dared to stand up to him. He said that Weinstein told him to not cast Ashley Judd or Mira sorvino in any of his movies because "they were a nightmare to work with." Jackson said, "In hindsight, I realise that this was very likely the Miramax smear campaign in full swing. I now suspect we were fed false information about both of these talented women — and as a direct result their names were removed from our casting list."
Harvey Weinstein wound up being fired from his own company and appears to be in exile. However, it turned out that we weren't done learning about Weinstein's reprehensible behavior. Another story was brought forward, this time by Salma Hayek.
The story happened while Hayek as making Frida, her biopic about Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. This was Hayek's pet project, and was produced by Weinstein's company Miramax. "She had the courage to express herself while disregarding skepticism," Hayek said. "My greatest ambition was to tell her story."
"One of the forces that gave me the determination to pursue my career was the story of Frida Kahlo, who in the golden age of the Mexican muralists would do small intimate paintings that everybody looked down on," Hayek said. But to get the movie made, she would need some help. And at the time, that help came from Miramax.
To get the movie made, Hayek struck a deal with Weinstein and Miramax where she would get paid just above the bare minimum. "The deal we made initially was that Harvey would pay for the rights of work I had already developed," she said. "As an actress, I would be paid the minimum Screen Actors Guild scale plus 10 percent. As a producer, I would receive a credit that would not yet be defined, but no payment, which was not that rare for a female producer in the ’90s."
Hayek said that, after signing the deal, Weinstein showed his true colors. "I was so excited to work with him and that company," she said. "In my naïveté, I thought 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."
Hayek went on to list all the things that Weinstein tried to get her to do that she had to say no to. For starters, she had to say 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."
Hayek's list continued with several more items.. "No to me taking a shower with him," she said. "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." And much, much more.
And even though she was telling Weinstein "no," she said that answer came with severe consequences. "Every refusal came Harvey’s Machiavellian rage," she said. "I don’t think he hated anything more than the word 'no.'”
Hayek said that, at one point, Weinstein was "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." And another time, "in an attack of fury, he said the terrifying words, 'I will kill you, don’t think I can’t.'" Weinstein then tried to stop the movie from getting made after all, but couldn't do it after Hayek recruited Edward Norton, Antonio Banderas, Geoffrey Rush and Ashley Judd to co-star.
Then, while shooting was halfway done, Weinstein complained about Hayek's appearance. "Harvey turned up on set and complained about Frida’s 'unibrow,'" she said. "He told me that the only thing I had going for me was my sex appeal and that there was none of that in this movie. So he told me he was going to shut down the film because no one would want to see me in that role."
Finally, Harvey said he's let her finish the movie, but on one condition. "He offered me one option to continue. He would let me finish the film if I agreed to do a sex scene with another woman. And he demanded full-frontal nudity." Feeling like she had no choice, she agreed to do the scene.
When shooting of the sex scene began, "My body began to shake uncontrollably, my breath was short and I began to cry and cry, unable to stop, as if I were throwing up tears," she said. "It was not because I would be naked with another woman. It was because I would be naked with her for Harvey Weinstein."
"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," she said. She fought to get Frida in theaters, and was eventually vindicated. It wound up winning two Oscars and earning four other nominations, including one for Hayek for best actress.