The more we hear from actresses about Harvey Weinstein, I’m repeatedly struck by the same thoughts about the careers of those actresses. Like, when Rosanna Arquette spoke to Ronan Farrow in his New Yorker story, I realized, “Oh, that’s one of the reasons why her career stalled – Harvey must have made sure that she didn’t get much work.” Same with Mira Sorvino and Heather Graham. And now I’m wondering the same thing about Kate Beckinsale. Kate has worked consistently over the years, but she was never one of those go-to British actresses used for period-costume dramas and prestige films (the same kind of films Weinstein produced). And now I know why, or one of the reasons why. Because after one gross meeting with him when she was just 17 years old, she said no to him repeatedly. Here’s Kate’s story, with only minor edits:
I was called to meet Harvey Weinstein at the Savoy Hotel when I was 17. I assumed it would be in a conference room which was very common. When I arrived, reception told me to go to his room. He opened the door in his bathrobe. I was incredibly naive and young and it did not cross my mind that this older, unattractive man would expect me to have any sexual interest in him. After declining alcohol and announcing that I had school in the morning I left, uneasy but unscathed.
A few years later he asked me if he had tried anything with me in that first meeting. I realized he couldn’t remember if he had assaulted me or not. I had what I thought were boundaries – I said no to him professionally many times over the years-some of which ended up with him screaming at me calling me a c-nt and making threats, some of which made him laughingly tell people oh “Kate lives to say no to me.”
It speaks to the status quo in this business that I was aware that standing up for myself and saying no to things, while it did allow me to feel uncompromised in myself, undoubtedly harmed my career and was never something I felt supported by anyone other than my family. I would like to applaud the women who have come forward, and to pledge that we can from this create a new paradigm where producers, managers, executives and assistants and everyone who has in the past shrugged and said “well, that’s just Harvey /Mr X/insert name here” will realize that we in numbers can affect real change.
For every moment like this there have been thousands where a vulnerable person has confided outrageous unprofessional behavior and found they have no recourse, due to an atmosphere of fear that it seems almost everyone has been living in. I had a male friend who, based on my experience, warned a young actress who said she was going to dinner with Harvey to be careful. He received a phone call the next day saying he would never work in another Miramax film: the girl was already sleeping with Harvey and had told him that my friend had warned her off. Let’s stop allowing our young women to be sexual cannon fodder ,and let’s remember that Harvey is an emblem of a system that is sick,and that we have work to do.
“After declining alcohol and announcing that I had school in the morning…” That line alone made me sick. Harvey Weinstein tried to get a 17-year-old schoolgirl drunk so he could assault her. And then he was abusive and disgusting to her for years afterwards. The story about Weinstein calling up the male friend and threatening him is horrifying too – that was Weinstein’s reach, and I’d be willing to bet that Weinstein followed through. That the male friend never worked for Miramax or the Weinstein Company ever again, for making the dangerous mistake of warning a woman about a sexual predator.
(Note: Beckinsale did end up working on one Weinstein-produced film, The Aviator, in 2004.)
Photos courtesy of Getty, Instagram.