People

Jessica Chastain says she was told to “calm down” about the Weinstein scandal by a famous actor

Posted by
Moya Crockett
Published

The actress received an email from a high-profile man in Hollywood, warning her to stop tweeting about sexual harassment.

The Oscar-nominated, Golden Globe-winning actress Jessica Chastain has considerable clout in Hollywood – and in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, she’s been using her platform on social media to speak out about sexual harassment.

However, this uncompromising stance toward sexual misconduct hasn’t gone down well with all of her peers in Hollywood. During an appearance on The Graham Norton Show, Chastain revealed that she recently received an email from a famous actor, telling her to “calm down” and stop tweeting about the Weinstein case.

“I was tweeting a lot at the time and actually got an email from a well-known actor that said, ‘Calm down,’” Chastain said.

“I found that heartbreaking and can only think he didn’t understand the movement that was happening.”

Chastain on the red carpet for her new film, Molly’s Game

Chastain often uses Twitter to raise awareness of social and political causes, and has posted frequently about sexual harassment and assault since the story broke about Weinstein’s alleged mistreatment of women.

She regularly speaks out in support of the producer’s accusers, as well as others who have come forward with tales of sexual abuse by directors and producers including Brett Ratner, James Toback and Bryan Singer.

Chastain has also said that she was aware of Weinstein’s reputation before The New York Times and The New Yorker published their first investigations into the disgraced producer. In October, she wrote on Twitter: “I was warned from the beginning. The stories were everywhere. To deny that is to create an environment for it to happen again.”

Fear of potentially damaging one’s career can lead some women to decide they don’t want to speak out about sexual harassment. However, in a recent interview, Chastain said that she has no such qualms – something she attributes to the fact that she entered Hollywood at a relatively late age (her first feature film, 2008’s Jolene, was released when she was 31).

“Because of the timing of when I came into the industry, I decided for me—my career could go away tomorrow, and I’ll do something else, and I’ll be OK,” she told The Daily Beast. “Because I was OK before I came into this career.”

She continued: “I made a decision very early on to not work with people that I felt abused their positions, and didn’t create a healthy environment for those around them… I do not feel beholden to anything. I’m going to speak my mind about any injustice that I see.

“I’m not afraid of anything in terms of that.” 

“The stories were everywhere”: Chastain (second from right) with Harvey Weinstein (centre) and others in September 2014. 

More than 100 women have now accused Weinstein of sexual abuse, including several instances of rape. He has denied all claims of non-consensual sex. In a recent statement, his lawyers suggested that some of the women accusing Weinstein of assault may have simply regretted their decision to sleep with him after the fact.

“Mr Weinstein has never at any time committed an act of sexual assault, and it is wrong and irresponsible to conflate claims of impolitic behaviour or consensual sexual contact later regretted, with an untrue claim of criminal conduct,” the producer’s attorneys told People.

“There is a wide canyon between mere allegation and truth, and we are confident that any sober calculation of the facts will prove no legal wrongdoing occurred.

“Nonetheless, to those offended by Mr. Weinstein’s behaviour, he remains deeply apologetic.”

For more on the ongoing conversation about sexual harassment in Hollywood and beyond, click here.

Images: Rex Features