As more and more accusations of sexual abuse and harassment against Harvey Weinstein have been brought to light over recent weeks, many have wondered how such behavior could have continued for so long.
There have been claims that Weinstein’s alleged treatment of women was an ‘open secret’ in Hollywood, and many simply turned a blind eye.
Now, Quentin Tarantino, close friend and colleague of the producer, has spoken out about how much he knew and says despite having been told of some specific incidents, he didn’t think they warranted action – something he now regrets.
When the initial report revealing the extent of the accusations was published, Tarantino issued a statement saying he was “stunned and heartbroken” over the allegations but he needed “a few more days to process [his] pain, emotions, anger and memory” before making further comment.
In an interview with The New York Times (19 October), Tarantino admits that he had known about Weinstein’s alleged behaviour long before the accusations were made public, and that he regrets not doing more to stop it.
Revealing that his former girlfriend, Mira Sorvino, had told him about unwelcome advances and touching by Weinstein, while another actress had shared with him a similarly distressing story years later, Tarantino also says that he was aware of Rose McGowan’s financial settlement with the producer.
“I knew enough to do more than I did,” he says. “There was more to it than just the normal rumors, the normal gossip. It wasn’t secondhand. I knew he did a couple of these things.”
Discussing his reaction to when his then girlfriend, Sorvino, said that Weinstein had massaged her without asking, chased her around a hotel room and even showed up at her apartment in the middle of the night, Tarantino says that he was shocked by the behaviour but passed it off as an infatuation.
“I couldn’t believe he would do that so openly. I was like: ‘Really? Really?’ But the thing I thought then, at the time, was that he was particularly hung up on Mira.”
When years later another actress told Tarantino she’d experienced unwanted advances by Weinstein in a hotel room, the director says he confronted Weinstein, who offered the woman what he described as a weak apology.
Again, Tarantino played down the alleged inappropriate behaviour, chalking it up to a “Fifties-Sixties era image of a boss chasing a secretary around the desk.”
“As if that’s OK. That’s the egg on my face right now,” he remarked.
Acknowledging his continued working relationship with Weinstein, Tarantino expresses his remorse over his failure to take action at the time.
“I wish I had taken responsibility for what I heard. If I had done the work I should have done then, I would have had to not work with him,” he added.
Weinstein was behind Tarantino’s famed Reservoir Dogs and he has executive produced the director’s films ever since, but the two are also friends; just last month Weinstein threw an engagement party for Tarantino and his fiancée, Israeli singer Daniella Pick.
Tarantino claims that he failed to see the bigger picture and never imagined that the incidents brought to his attention were part of an alleged larger pattern of abuse.
Tarantino says that Hollywood allowed the situation to continue because “that’s the way it was” but in a newfound determination to stand up to those abusing their power in Hollywood and beyond, the director made a call to all men with knowledge about such incidents to speak up and stand by women.
“Don’t just give out statements. Acknowledge that there was something rotten in Denmark. Vow to do better by our sisters.
“What was previously accepted is now untenable to anyone of a certain consciousness.”
Images: Rex Features