Claire Forlani says she ‘escaped’ Harvey Weinstein ‘five times’ in the 1990s

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In the 1990s, Claire Forlani was a big deal. She was supposed to be the next big thing, a major actress, and so many women and girls wish they looked like her (including me, I always thought she was the most beautiful of the ’90s It Girls). And then she just sort of faded away. A combination of choosing bad films and not being able to deliver on expectations? Or was it something else? That’s what I keep wondering as all of these ‘90s actresses are coming out with their Harvey Weinstein stories. I’m having a series of realizations of, “Oh, Harvey Weinstein probably had a hand in derailing her career.” It all makes sense now, doesn’t it? Claire Forlani spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about her vague experiences with Weinstein and how she feels guilty for not agreeing to be interviewed by Ronan Farrow:

She was approached by Ronan Farrow: “[Farrow] didn’t mention that it was about Harvey but when I received the email I instinctively knew it was going to be. I told some close men around me and they all advised me not to speak. I had already told Ronan I would speak with him but from the advice around me, interestingly the male advice around me, I didn’t make the call. Today I sit here feeling some shame, like I’m not a woman supporting other women. I just read Mira Sorvino’s article in Time and she writes of how scared she was to speak out and participate. I take little solace in that.

She escaped Weinstein five times: “You see, nothing happened to me with Harvey — by that I mean, I escaped 5 times. I had two Peninsula Hotel meetings in the evening with Harvey and all I remember was I ducked, dived and ultimately got out of there without getting slobbered over, well just a bit. Yes, massage was suggested. The three dinners with Harvey I don’t really remember the time period, I was 25. I remember him telling me all the actresses who had slept with him and what he had done for them. I wasn’t drinking the cool aid [sic], I knew Harvey was a master manipulator. He also announced to me at the last dinner I had with him at Dominic’s that his pilot knew to be on standby because he could never get me to sleep with him, to which I did what I always did, make light of the situation, a joke here or there and moved on.”

She grew up with so many of those experiences: “You see, I always thought I was a pro at handling these guys, I’d had a fair amount of experience. Sometimes I got angry, really angry. I wondered why I had Prey stamped on my forehead but this I kept to myself. This sort of thing was something my generation dealt with, all the time. For me it started at age 14, my parents had two male friends who I trusted and adored and they were deeply inappropriate. It happened all the time when I modeled and it happened all through my twenties in the film business. For us it was something you weren’t supposed to make a big deal out of; it was sadly our normal.”

She thinks the women who came forward are so brave:
“I remember when Thandie Newton spoke out about a director that I had also had a disgusting experience with and I felt scared even reading what she said publicly about him, thinking, ‘Damn, she’s gonna get crucified for that.’ Yet I was in awe for her bravery and balls, she was a female crusader, modern suffragette and I loved her for it. But I also knew I didn’t have those balls, too scared of the repercussions. This was because when you did react or tell a man to shove it, there were always repercussions. I was punished when I was brave. So I learned to let it go and carry on.

She’s hopeful for the future: “I am feeling very moved that these brave women who came forward are creating alchemy of all bad, brutal ugliness. That maybe now a safe and respectful work environment for the generation coming up will happen. I feel excited, I really do, that this could be a thing of the past, that these men will now not feel they have carte blanche to intimidate, sexualize, bully and ultimately hurt women or girls. I’m not naïve enough to believe it can be eradicated but it can be a different time and that after all this pain, suffering and fear, it can be a new time in this business. I am proud of my community. I love what I do. There are so many beautiful people in this business. So may the bad seeds please leave the stage?”

[From THR]

I feel so sorry for her, even as she’s taking pains to gloss over what really happened to her. “I escaped five times… I had two Peninsula Hotel meetings in the evening with Harvey and all I remember was I ducked, dived and ultimately got out of there without getting slobbered over, well just a bit. Yes, massage was suggested.” The “well just a bit” made me shudder. She’s a small woman too, and the thought of her trying to physically dodge this fat, mountainous predator makes me sick to my stomach. She can’t even bring herself to call it what it was – harassment, abuse, assault. She thinks she’s lucky that nothing worse happened.

She says she was 25 years old – this incidents would have been circa 1997. Those seemed like his prime predator years, when he was really going after some high profile actresses (Gwyneth, Angelina, Mira Sorvino).

black dress

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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56 Responses to “Claire Forlani says she ‘escaped’ Harvey Weinstein ‘five times’ in the 1990s”

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  1. Who ARE these people? says:

    Clearly he preyed upon nearly every actress he met.

    How many women feel as she did, that something about *them* attracted abuse, instead of the mere fact of being female. This is one of the many unhealthy results of being raised in a culture that blames victims as one way to enable abuse.

    • Handwoven says:

      And AGAIN here is a woman discussing her guilt, her shame, her “cowardice”. It’s disgusting but it’s so easy to see why women feel like that, when everyone who’s come forward is either
      1. Overreacting to nothing
      2. A selfish harpy who allowed him to continue because she didn’t stop him and she smiled once standing next to him at a party

      These women have nothing to feel guilt about and FFS, every day that goes by I notice we haven’t heard a single high profile man in Hollywood talk about how guilty HE feels.

      • CynicalAnn says:

        I don’t see anyone “blaming” or telling people they’re overreacting or a “selfish harpy”. Everywhere I see is support for all of these poor women who had to interact with him-either by having to sleep with him or dodging his advances. All I’m seeing is horror and disgust.

      • Ennie says:

        CYNICALANN, I regularly check FB and some other outlets, like yahoo, and every 2posts there is one either victim blaming or another blaming democrats.

      • Helen Smith says:

        The Daily Mail comments are terrible for expecting women to be perfect victims to be respected for coming forward. The commenters there are terrible to any woman who didn’t come forward right after their encounter with Harvey.

        Anyone who tells you feminism isn’t needed any longer, direct them to the comments on the Harvey stories on the Daily Mail as an example of why feminism remains relevant.

    • Lavin says:

      Harvey is a monster, a Predator.
      She is such a good actress. I saw one of her 90’s movies recently and wondered why her career slowed down. Poor lady, my heart breaks reading these stories of abuse. Harvey is disgusting. He obviously stalled her career.
      I am sickened. I will never look at Hollywood , Oscars , Award shows or the industry as wonderful.
      Harvey and predators like him make the business disgusting.

      • tealily says:

        Yeah, she’s great. I’ve always wondered why she wasn’t bigger too. There is so much about a lot of women’s careers making sense in the wake of all these revelations.

      • magnoliarose says:

        I wondered too when I catch something she was in. It made no sense.

    • Brittney B says:

      I certainly felt that way for years. “What IS it about me?” And I sometimes voiced that concern, confiding in friends.

      Guess what one (male) friend said in response? “Honestly… it’s probably your breasts.”

      Yeah, that’s exactly what an 18-year-old assault victim who’s already insecure about her big chest needs to hear.

    • Bebe1215 says:

      Other 90s actress who I always thought was enormously talented and dropped off the face of the earth for a while was Julia Ormond. She’s doing a lot of acting and advocacy work now around victims now but she fell off pretty hard after Legends of the Fall and A Knight’s Tale.

      • Lia says:

        Julia Ormond was in First Knight, not A Knight’s Tale. (That one was Shannyn Sossamon and Heath Ledger). And she is a wonderful actress! I wonder how many left the acting arena because of the harassment. And I wonder how many actresses who are less talented remain in the game because of what they gave up for it on the casting couch.

  2. Torontoe says:

    It’s heartbreaking that having being inappropriately propositioned and having to physically dodge being groped 5 times by your boss is “nothing happened” in the minds of women. Or that she felt it was her talent/responsibility to do so. And where does that attitude emanate from? Maybe other powerful men who are saying “Harvey’s chasing girls again” has something to do with the minimization that women then use to cope.
    And I agree, she is beautiful and you wonder if an alternate universe she, Ashley, Rose, Mila et al have had more successful careers but for this vengeful perve.

  3. Talie says:

    I still unabashedly love Meet Joe Black.

    • wendywoo says:

      Me too.

    • Jerusha says:

      I just rewatched it three days ago. Good movie.

    • ANOTHER DAY says:

      I thought she was stunningly beautiful in it as was Brad Pitt. They were so gorgeous it was hard for me to truly engage with the plot, I remember thinking it was boring and went on 30 minutes Beyond my interest. But that’s just me. 😕

    • Pix says:

      “because i like you so much” I remember loving that line and always saying it to the boyfriend I was infatuated with in the late, late 90’s.

    • holly hobby says:

      I remember her from that movie! Don’t recall the movie but I do remember her and then she sort of disappeared. She did literally marry “Prince Charming,” Dougray Scott a few years ago but no career news.

  4. Handwoven says:

    All the people who have come forward have written things that have made me angry, exhausted, furious, and so on, but hers was the one that made me choke up a bit. This part:

    “You see, I always thought I was a pro at handling these guys, I’d had a fair amount of experience. Sometimes I got angry, really angry. I wondered why I had Prey stamped on my forehead but this I kept to myself.”

    …really upset me. That’s how I’ve felt since barely post-puberty. That’s how most women I know feel. Like one of our life skills is handling creeps. Like we are f*cking deer and it’s always f*cking hunting season.

    • ell says:

      same. i feel much stronger now in my late 20s, but when i was younger it was tough. i would really question myself.

    • EB says:

      Handwowen, I feel you. That is the part that got to me the most. Thinking back at my teenage years this was shared and understood among girl friends: it was our responsibility to handle the creeps, to smile or laugh and find an excuse to leave (the gym, the bar, the party, the sunday school). It was never men’s responbility to behave.
      I am now over 40 and one of the things I am glad of in the last few years is that the number of inappropriate comments/behaviours and of men that feel entitled to something from me has lessened.
      It is an aspect that literally shapes the life of women.

    • cindy says:

      I relate to this too. Especially around the age of 14, when it first starts. Middle age men were the worst. And you do become a pro at handling it, and it does become a normal part of life. What blew my mind at that age, because I wasn’t very emotionally sophisticated, was- why does this gross old guy think I would want anything to do with him? And you kind of turn yourself into ice, and learn to give of zero signals of encouragement. But even than, they still try.

    • Ruyana says:

      I agree. I was abused by my uncle starting at around age 10. When I told my grandma she slapped my face and called me a liar. I was abused also by strangers off and on until my mid-20’s. Most likely because I was small – 5′ and 100 lbs. Easy pickings. For most of my life I always looked at the ground when I was out and about. I thought it was all my fault, that I was sending out some kind of “secret ray” that told men it was okay to abuse me. In addition to pretending I was invisible I wouldn’t wear makeup or wash my hair. I did not want to attract attention. The one time I made a police report the man had been in a rented car and the police would not act because they weren’t sure the man who rented the car was the same one who accosted me. I am in my 70’s now, and so grateful that I finally AM invisible. Only people your own age notice you when you’re old. The younger look through or around you and don’t see you at all. I like it that way. And goddamn all those SOB’s who ruined most of my life and left me scarred forever in spite of 12 years of therapy.

      • mee says:

        I’m so sorry for your experiences. I’m moved by your account of how you are now so glad to be invisible. How difficult it must have been to deal with all these predators. I was abused by a relative when I was a child – by 13 I was too old. But the damage was done. I haven’t had the same experiences as an adult, partly because I didn’t want to invite that attention.

      • Sadezilla says:

        Ruyana, your story really tugged at my heartstrings. I’m so sorry for what you went through. I hope you are healing, and I’m glad you’re in therapy. Your soul is worth it!

      • ashipper says:

        Ruyana, I’m 54 and I agree that it’s so nice to become invisible to the majority of men who harass and assault women. Unfortunately, my 15 year old daughter now deals with it. She’s been groped multiple times by young and old guys. It infuriates me. Yesterday, my 80 year old mom told me about one of her brother’s friends who tried to rape her in the early 1950s. When she told her brother, he didn’t believe her. It’s disgusting.

    • Asiyah says:

      I completely relate. I’ve felt that way for a long time, and it intensified in my late 20s after I was almost r*ped and shortly thereafter, met a narcissist who tried to get with me and then entered an abusive relationship with a man who has BPD who pursued me and is still bothering me even though I’m married now. Like what is it about me that attracts these types? Because truth be told, I’m not even all that into them. I don’t find danger attractive.

    • Helen Smith says:

      Yes, I completely agree. I love your prey metaphor with the deer.

  5. lucy2 says:

    Interesting that the men around her told her not to speak on this. I hope it was out of wanting to protect her from HW’s retaliation, and not out of being dismissive of what she went through.

    • Asiyah says:

      I found that very telling. It’s ultimately why I only have one guy friend left. I had several but over the years have found that they weren’t really allies. I could never count on them for anything, especially not something like this. Men usually encourage us to shut up about it. I don’t know why.

    • Molli says:

      @lucy2, i found that telling too, that’s why you can’t ask a guy about things like that…

  6. Juliette says:

    They are everywhere. I consider myself to be a fairly strong woman. However, dealing with a situation at my office right now.

    One of the big bosses constantly touches several of the women (me included). Massages shoulders, makes comments. It’s so subtle that most of us aren’t sure how to deal with it. Small office so if a complaint was raised it was cause a huge issue. I have dropped hints that it’s inappropriate but he seems to try and come off as just a friendly guy who gets along with everyone. He is also very religious and mentions it all the time

    It’s just so subtle that none of us are sure it could be considered harassment, only that it makes several of us uncomfortable. So yeah, they are everywhere.

    • Who ARE These People? says:

      Religion as a cover story, a tale as old as time. You must want to sew poisoned spikes onto the shoulders of your work clothes. Massages and comments aren’t subtle at all, he just wants to make it seem that way. Does he massage the men? Comment on the men?

      Would you consider going to him as a group and saying, “Look, it’s inappropriate to touch women like this in the workplace and to say things about our appearance. Stop now, or we’ll go to HR because you are violating workplace law by creating an unsafe environment.”

      Guaranteed he knows what he is doing. Guaranteed he isn’t just a “friendly guy.” He’s your boss, not your friend – and male friends don’t necessarily rub women’s shoulders and “make comments.”

      Show him the video of GW Bush “massaging” the shoulders of world leader Angela Merkel. Talk about other “religious” types who were caught in acts of sexual abuse and predation.

      Jesus is watching! ; )

    • Amy says:

      Advice from a stranger: Think of the next people he will touch, and how he may escalate, if you need to, and take action. Do it together if it makes you more confident. HR just telling him to not touch people might be enough. Consequences be d*mned. We are the problem if we don’t do something. Just my two cents! /end rant. #beentherestoppedthat

    • tracking says:

      That’s awful, Juliette. The harassment is bad enough, but cloaking it with religiosity makes it even worse if possible. Your situation reinforces Forlani’s very real point about fear of repercussions. Can you and your colleagues make a confidential complaint through HR?

    • Birdie says:

      Juliette, I am sorry to hear that happens to you right now. See it this way, it bothers you so much that you write it here and I think his behavior unacceptable. No one, especially in the work place is allowed to put a hand on you! If he does it again, ask him why he is always touchy and that it is uncomfortable! If he doesn’t stop, tell another boss. You are not powerless, religion is not a free pass to act inappropriate. I hope your situation gets better and good luck.

    • Helen Smith says:

      I would point out to your boss the next time that he massages your shoulders that he only is friendly in this way with the women in the office and not the men.

  7. blogdis says:

    I have been avoiding commenting on these posts cuz so overwhelmed by the grossness.But one thing I would like to say after the outrage , shock and surprise ( feigned and otherwise ) does the Hollywood culture change?

    One of the things that has always bothered me even before this is that is the status quo in Hollywood for women to take meetings in hotel rooms.( in my culture and industry that is considered wildly inappropriate ) Yes it is easy for the shamers to say well don’t take the meeting but how does an actress do that when it seems so ingrained in that biz ? My understanding is that these meetings can be above board I.e in a exec suite that has a working round table desk and other people are milling around but why put an actress in such a vulnerable position just in case the meeting is not and yes I know abuse can happen anywhere but this practice just speaks to the entitlement and power dynamics in Hollywood

    Who are these managers, agencies and other execs that are sending thier clients to these meetings and is it going to stop now ? Also when an actress refuses a power broker advances who is taking those calls that say don’t hire so and so , or taking it gospelthat so and so is “difficult ” when they darned well know what it means

    This dialogue around Weinstein is important but Holloywood culture is rotten to the core and needs to be changed.

    • CynicalAnn says:

      It really does. The agents and casting directors are complicit. Of course it goes on everywhere-but the blatant abuse in Hollywood (and theater, quite frankly) is just disgusting.

    • Molli says:

      It’a not only Hollywood, normal woman who are not celebrities will never been able to talk about, because nobody cares.
      It’s a society-problem, not a Hollywood-problem.

      • blogdis says:

        You are correct it is a societal problem but Hollywood seems to have certain things engrained in thier culture that makes abuse almost a part of the status quo.

        Notice the majority of the Weinsteins and other abuses involves a starlet being summoned to a meeting in the mans hotel room .why is this the norm ? In my country and corporate environment a meeting alone in someone ones hotel room is a big NOPE ! No manageror otherwise would encourage it even if the meeting was above board. These are just a few of the ways that the Hollywood culture fosters theses abuses and after the outcry about Harvey what is going to change?

  8. Radley says:

    She’s right that you do end up accepting that many men are “dogs”, i.e., inappropriate and predatory. So clearly men and boys really need to be taught how to behave. It takes a village. School, work, church, extracurriculars…everybody needs to get involved. We need to take seriously all the toxic masculinity messaging that’s openly peddled to men and boysas “real men” stuff.

    We always say protect our girls, and that’s good, but I’m personally just getting the revelation that we aren’t protecting our boys. And that in turn leaves our girls vulnerable.

    • Who ARE These People? says:

      Right – for every girl and woman victimized there is a boy or man victimizing. They have to be raised right not only to not assault females, but to know what to do to prevent others that they know from assaulting females, and also how to intervene in these situations, support the victims, and GET MORE WOMEN INTO POSITIONS OF POWER which is the only thing that will really make it stop.

      • Molli says:

        @Who ARE These People, NOPE.
        You really think Woman can’t be abusive? that’s very naive.
        Sadly often Woman are the ones who make some situations possible, they are complicit in crime, HW’s Assistant?
        Many Woman give a flying Batpoop about other Woman, which is Heartbraking.
        We could be easily more powerful, but some woman would do everything to destroy anothers Woman chances for success, sad but true.

        People of Power (Femal+Male) are never do-gooder, that’s a fact, most of them are not. How do you think they got that much power, hard work? LOL
        It’s always at the expense of the powerless, vulnerable people.
        That’s the oldest Game, i don’t see a change in the future, maybe in Hollywood, but not for the regular folks.

    • Lizard says:

      +1, this is also my main conclusion from all of this. This abusive behavior / mistreatment of women does not only happen in Hollywood, but around the world in all walks of life. We need to not only teach our girls to be aware of this and to be able to defend themselves (I’m a huge fan of Krav Maga) etc., but more importantly we need to teach our boys not to become such abusive a**holes.

      ETA: I also found her to be one of the most beautiful of the ’90s It Girls and he had loads of talent.

    • tracking says:

      Absolutely. Mayim Bialik has a great video up “How Not to Raise Sons Who Behave Like Harvey Weinstein.” It makes similar points, and is excellent.

  9. jetlagged says:

    “…because when you did react or tell a man to shove it, there were always repercussions. I was punished when I was brave. So I learned to let it go and carry on.”

    I see so many people (mostly men, but some women too) questioning why so few victims of this crap step forward, or they criticize someone for trying to brush it off with humor, but they won’t acknowledge this basic fact. There are always repercussions.

    • Molli says:

      Exactly, normal people only loose, you get rather punished and get marked as difficult to work with, or being crazy or whatnot.

      Harvey onley got exposed because of money, his brother never mind about the woman, it was all about image and money, nothing else.

      There are more than this pig H., not only in HW in the Whole World.

  10. perplexed says:

    Wow, this explains so much about so many people’s career trajectories. These people didn’t fade away by accident…

  11. alice/jane says:

    The women speaking out are very brave. I did experience this kind of situations in my youth, working in big law firms (you can easily imagine what the dynamic senior partner/young and naive trainee may entail) and I did feel brave just for having been able to not give in to the unwanted/inappropriate avances, managing to keep my job – and not losing everything I worked hard for – at the same time. Handling creeps is a basic life skill for women indeed and it makes everything so much harder for us. How many men are required to devote emotional energies to keep the boss at bay, while trying to do their best at the workplace? Not to mention the occasional groping/cat calling (or worse) that we all repeatedly face, which we are used to shrug it off while taking the high road. Five decades of discontinue feminism won’t do the trick against centuries of patriarchy. This still is a men’s world.

  12. teacakes says:

    God, this breaks my heart. Especially the part where she says she wondered what about her spelt ‘prey’ to these men, because I’ve been there myself.

    And – even aside from the sexual assault- it is utterly horrifying to think just how many careers he killed and the talent that’s been lost to us because of this scum’s power trips. Claire deserved better, as did Rose and Asia and Lucia Evans and Sophie Dix and Romola Garai (though she is still working on the other side of the pond).

  13. Shelley says:

    She is one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen.
    Also I am sad for her that she can’t fully describe what she went through. But this is brave enough. As someone who has been sexually harassed I know how it can take baby steps to be able to tell the full story out loud. Sometimes even to oneself.

  14. Jayna says:

    Has anyone read Sophie Dix’s experience in the Hollywood Reporter. He asked her to come look at rushes in his hotel suite. It’s horrifying. Here’s part of her interview.

    “As soon as I was in there, I realized it was a terrible mistake,” Dix said. “I got to the hotel room, I remember talk of a massage and I thought that was pretty gross. I think he showed me his big back and I found that pretty horrid. Then before I knew it, he started trying to pull my clothes off and pin me down and I just kept saying, ‘No, no, no.’ But he was really forceful. I remember him pulling at my trousers and stuff and looming over me and I just sort of — I am a big, strong girl and I bolted … ran for the bathroom and locked the door.”

    Dix claimed she hid in the bathroom for “a while” before things went quiet outside. That’s when she opened the door to find Weinstein masturbating, at which point she “quickly closed the door again and locked it. Then when I heard room service come to the door, I just ran,” she said.”

  15. Ellis says:

    I never knew how to respond to a guy grabbing me or saying something inappropriate, nor the couple of hundred friends I’ve shared abuse stories with over the years, nor apparently women in the world at large. Maybe parents need to start some sort of No! Stop! training for their adolescents? Because in abuse cases that go to court those are two words that women are asked if they said in the moment. No, we stood there dumbfounded, and then felt guilt and shame afterward. Perhaps we need to teach budding adolescents (both sexes) to immediately respond with a very loud No! Stop! if anyone pokes, grabs, tickles, smacks, etc. them without their permission. And it should start in the home, because everyone needs to be taught early that it is never ok to touch another person inappropriately, and every individual has the right to set those boundaries for themselves. And everyone needs to learn early to stop immediately if they hear “no” or “stop”. And it needs to be loud so the perpetrator is called out in case there are witnesses nearby, and perp can’t say they didn’t hear or understand, and etc. Maybe we get used to passing those things off when we are young so that by the time we are adults and it becomes more offensive, we are used to supressing.

  16. Helen Smith says:

    One of the aides in my district had to go to the district office and demand that something be done about the male teacher with whom she worked. That man was placed on a leave of absence and after he returned to work at a different school, I wrote him to oet him know that he had been making unwanted advances toward me for three years and was impervious to my polite declines. You would think three years of no’s and avoiding him would’ve gotten through but no. I informed him in writing that he had to stop making advances on me immediately or I was going to be the next woman to make a trip to the district office. He wrote me back, “Yes, ma’am.” and I haven’t had an encounter with him since. I hear he is giving the women at his new school a wide berth. Nearly losing his teaching job woke him up.