Salma Hayek explains why she didn’t tell Penelope Cruz about Harvey Weinstein


In late 2017, Salma Hayek wrote a New York Times op-ed about what Harvey Weinstein had done to her, how he degraded her, harassed her and forced her to do a sex scene in Frida and how he treated her like sh-t. Salma was one of dozens of women telling their stories about Weinstein and other predators at the time. Some of those survivors still get questions about Weinstein, but it feels like Salma is one of the few still talking about at length. She’s currently promoting an assortment of new films and projects, and she ended up chatting about Weinstein again, and trying to explain why she never told her girlfriends about her experiences with Weinstein at the time. Her explanation is… odd.

Apparently Penelope Cruz was mad that Hayek never said anything: “Some people were very angry at me, like Penélope [Cruz], but I was protecting her. I kept my eye on their interaction and he never went for her. They [Miramax] were making the best movies. She didn’t have my problem, and if I told her it would have affected her choices of things that would have been good for her career.” Hayek has previously shared that she hadn’t told Cruz — who was “really angry” with her — because “I didn’t realize Harvey was doing it to other people, too, so I thought, ‘Why dump your stuff on someone and take away from their professional relationship with him?’ At that time Harvey was doing the best movies.”

The trauma of what Weinstein did: “Suddenly the trauma came back. I had thought that it was completely healed, but it was just hiding. It came back, out of nowhere, and it took me a long time to understand how I had to be with it.” Of her 2017 op-ed she added, “Before I wrote the piece I thought I had survived that brilliantly and it was done with. To the point that I could see him and smile and pretend that everything was OK. I had held my own, I was really strong. He even said that me and Julie Taymor [Frida’s director] were the biggest ball-busters he has ever encountered. I took that as a compliment.

And in the end: “He didn’t get what he wanted from me and I made the film that was so important, so meaningful to me, to my kind, and when I say my kind I don’t just mean Mexicans, I mean to my kind of woman. Frida is a woman who said, I am not a woman who is going to be like anyone else, I am going to fight for my individuality.”

The other Hollywood problem: “This problem, it’s not only about sexual harassment, it is about sexism, the constant undermining, and the desperation to please and prove ourselves. So I was like, no way, I am going to change it because, look, I am a lot more than what you see.”

[From Yahoo]

I understand that the trauma of it was difficult to process and Salma likely did what so many women do when they’re harassed, hurt and degraded: she siloed those feelings and tried to rationalize it away. That would be a better explanation for her to tell Penelope Cruz as well – “I didn’t know what I was doing, I was still processing what happened and I was rationalizing it away.” Because the whole idea of “I didn’t tell you but I kept my eye on how he treated you” is not great. Penelope Cruz is a grown woman who could make her own choices about who to work with. And Salma wasn’t around Penelope every single time Cruz was with Weinstein either. I do feel like Penelope has every right to be kind of pissed off at Salma’s explanation.


Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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39 Responses to “Salma Hayek explains why she didn’t tell Penelope Cruz about Harvey Weinstein”

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  1. Becks1 says:

    I dont like the “I kept an eye on how he treated you” defense because was Salma around Penelope every minute she was with Harvey?

    but I can see it more from the side of “I didn’t realize he was doing this to other women.” If it wasn’t really being talked about, then maybe Salma legitimately did not know that he was doing it to other women and just thought it was a one-off for harvey or something. but how sad that she didnt tell Penelope because she (salma) wanted Penelope’s career to be as successful as possible in the US and she (again Salma) felt that Penelope needed to work with Harvey for that to happen. “well I know he treated me horribly but if you want an Oscar or a blockbuster he’s your best chance.” And that’s part of what made Harvey so powerful, right? People put up with him and his behavior because he got them awards or made them a ton of money.

    I don’t know. I don’t want to judge someone who was a victim of Harvey Weinstein for what they did or didn’t do at the time, or who they told or didn’t tell.

    • corralee says:

      Ditto to everything you said. It sounds like she wanted Penelope to be successful and didn’t want to derail her chances while still trying to look after her. Ye s in hindsight maybe there are better ways to handle things, but at the time that may have felt like the best thing to do.

    • Myra says:

      That’s the thing when you’re a victim in a scenario, you tend to rationalise what happened to you so that you can come to terms with it. Your thought process wouldn’t make sense to anyone else but yourself (and probably a good therapist). And it’s not the victim’s fault. Harvey did what he did because he was an abuser. It’s not Salma’s fault he abused other women.

      • Sue Denim says:

        yes, and she may not have realized or been able to articulate even now that she was in fact still processing it all, esp if she didn’t realize she was just one part of a much bigger pattern, not special as he in his own gross way tried to imply. And that Penelope was prob much less safe than assumed. And W praising Salma that she was so strong feels so manipulative too, a kind of grooming even.

    • Mac says:

      I think Selma did what seemed right at the time. This was 20 years before #MeToo and #TimesUp.

      • Erica says:

        Exactly. Harvey was a HUGE force in Hollywood. I understand Salma’s thinking. She probably also thought she was the only one, had no idea this something he was doing to countless other women.

    • GrnieWnie says:

      yeah I can see that too, where Salma maybe thought Harvey just had a problem with HER and wouldn’t have one with Penelope. And she wanted Penelope to be able to receive the career benefits of working with Harvey without Salma’s experience tainting her perceptions.

      But that’s how it is, isn’t it? We rationalize the mistreatment away because it’s happening to us. An outsider could see that the issues are systemic, that the man was a systematic abuser of women. But we blame ourselves and the culture around us enables that, too.

  2. rainbowkitty says:

    Easy for me to say as I’m not in this business, but I would rather my friend not be successful than have to be abused by that gross man to further her career.

  3. Lala11_7 says:

    I totally understand her position here….

    • BrainFog 💉💉😷 says:

      Me too. But even if I didn’t, I think we should not judge people on how they deal with trauma. I find it unfair to be angry at her for whatever way she chose to cope with a horrible situation. Be angry at the predator in jail instead.

    • reef says:

      Me too. She’s also not saying the quiet part which is if she told Cruz and Cruz still decided to work with him knowing what he did to Hayek, they might not be friends to today.

      • purple prankster says:

        Or Penelope might not have believed her and might have thought Salma was jealous and trying to derail her. After all lots of other women were working with Harvey and the industry as a whole was looking the other way…

    • D says:

      Absolutely. She wanted her friend to have the best options for roles and thought that by telling her she would have to turn down some of the best parts. I don’t think she was trying to put Penelope in harms way at all.

  4. Salome says:

    I believe that Salma didn’t realize Weinstein was harrassing everyone and understand why she kept it to herself. Anyone who has been sexually harassed understands, especially if it happened back in the old days. The conversation around that behavior is so different now, it’s hard to remember the burden that was placed on the victims.

    • Truthiness says:

      Weinstein would have retaliated against Salma, he ended careers right, left and center. I really don’t want to scold or shame any of his victims, it is easy to have clarity after he is in jail.

    • superashes says:

      Yeah. Having been an adult 20 years ago, I completely agree with this. People simply didn’t want to believe women, and particularly where it involved powerful men at that time.

      I completely understand Salma’s approach here. There was a lot of internalized misogyny writ large in our society ion the 90s, and while we still have it today, we are not at the same level. We are talking about the era of the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal, the media frenzy around Britney, and any number of other disappointing things to look back on from the 90s.

    • Emma says:

      The conversation is only superficially different. The abusers are mostly smarter now and have learned how to pretend better in public. There are still lots of abusers in place. Harvey Weinstein got buried by a tidal wave, a force of nature. He’s just one man. There are still others, in every industry, and the backlash against women who protest is still huge.

      I don’t blame Salma Hayek at all. She is a survivor. I have been there. Even if she had tried to say anything, I *highly* doubt anyone would have really taken her seriously. I blame Weinstein and the many others who enabled him.

      What she said about Trauma coming back is so real too.

  5. questions says:

    I think she was in a difficult position. It feels a little strange to judge how to deal with a guy like Weinstein.

    • Margo says:

      Absolutely agree. At that moment, when Miramax was the IT studio, there’s a good chance that if Salma had said something it would have backfired on her and Penelope. And instead of them both making good films and building careers, they would have ended up like many talented actresses that lost careers. Salma played the game and while she may have made some questionable decisions, she is one of the few women who did break Harvey’s balls and got away with it! I wish we could hear more stories about women that stood up to him and not just the stories of women victimized by him.

  6. Veronika says:

    It sucks that women in these situations have to make these choices: warn your friend and her career may suffer or don’t speak so she can have a successful career. These burdens always fall to the victims of abuse and it’s just so frustratingly unfair.

    • Jess says:

      Totally agree, Veronika. I don’t think we can or should judge Salma for this at all. That being said, I get what she’s saying. I’ve worked for bosses who are sexist creeps (not monsters like Harvey) and I work in a male dominated industry where most women are going to have to put up with such creeps, so rather than tell younger women not to work for my firm I’ve done everything I can to protect them and advocate for them. I don’t know if that’s right or not, but when we’re dealing with systems that are still horribly sexist (and racist) and run by men who don’t think there’s a problem, I don’t know that it’s always possible to walk away and tell others to walk away from the situation.

  7. Turtledove says:

    And here we are, once again, finding a way to blame the female victim of a disgusting predator.

    While, sure, I personally, in hindsight, knowing ALL I know about Weinstein, can think “hmmm..that is odd, you’d think she would want to warn her friend”, the fact remains that none of us know what we would do in her situation. Maybe she didn’t want to talk about it. Sure, NOW she says it was her concern for Cruz’s career, but maybe at the time, she had many complicated feelings. Why should she be the one judged? “If only all the victims spoke out immediately, against the top guy at the #1 movie house of that decade, maybe he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to abuse as many women”. Or maybe he could have just, you know, not abused people?

    • ab says:

      Yes. It’s easy to judge with 2021 eyes what we think she “should have done” but at the time this was happening? Who was going to go up against the most powerful man in town, and with an accusation of sexual assault? I’m surprised that Penelope would be mad at Salma for not warning her, would she have actually refused to work with him, or risked being blacklisted to speak out? I believe that Salma thought she was alone in this happening to her and probably didn’t want to rock the boat. I can’t judge how she or any of his victims handled this abuse, we all have our own ways of coping.

  8. Veronica S. says:

    I actually think a lot of victims internalize it this way. The trauma is theirs, after all, so why should they upset the status quo by making things difficult for more people? Add in the way women are taught not to make waves and punished for being outspoken in certain places, and it starts to add up why so many bury this information instead of speaking out about it. (Not that male victims don’t experience this, too, but the mechanisms that silence them are slightly different.)

    Harvey Weinstein was a man with a lot of power. He could have and did destroy a lot of people’s careers. Salma probably saw it as protecting her friend, but there’s also the fact that it’s protecting herself. If she had told Cruz, what would the other woman have done? Would she have risked herself and spoken out? Or would she have just brushed it off as terrible but impossible to deal with logistically? Both answers bring harm, social and emotional, to everyone involved when the person in question has immense power. I only have sympathy for her.

  9. Cheryl says:

    Trauma often causes one to rationalize some pretty horrific sht. I don’t think we should be crapping on Salma for any of this. She’s probably still working through all of it to this day, as are many of this other victims. It’s so easy for people to say “why didn’t you do *this*?” to trauma victims and assume that they were in a healthy state of mind to be able to do or say the right thing. Trauma is a horrific beast that often warps our minds and leaves lifelong scars. We need to have empathy for the victims, rather than shaming them for not doing one thing or the other.

  10. Louise177 says:

    I think it’s unfair to criticize Salma’s response. A lot of victims of crime rationalize and internalize what happened to them. Saying she was trying to protect Penelope was probably a coping mechanism.

  11. lucy2 says:

    She was being abused by him and traumatized, and he had the ability to destroy her career. Blaming her for this now is the equivalent of asking why every victim doesn’t leave immediately, or report it immediately, or tell someone immediately. Don’t we all know by now that many victims can’t do that?
    I do think the “I was keeping an eye on her and he didn’t try anything” is kind of weak, as she had no idea what happened when she wasn’t around, but beyond that, I get it. And I also get Penelope’s feelings too.
    I bet all of his victims wished they could have spoken up sooner, warned others, etc. I remember someone (maybe Kate Beckinsale?) saying a friend of hers did warn, and Weinstein found out and destroyed his career.

    • ennie says:

      Yes, he told and Winstein practically banned him: according to Variety’s interview.
      “The actress believes that speaking up can make a difference. “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,” she concluded. “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.””

  12. Darla says:

    The way I have processed trauma in my life has been so beyond messed up, including absolutely blanking it out the very instant after it happened. I once woke up with bruises all over my arm, and they were fingerprints. And I had bruises all down my leg. It was from a terrible family scene, but what I didn’t know, even when it happened I swear to God, is that someone grabbed my arm hard enough to bruise me, and shoved me on the floor. Others there kept telling me they saw me on the ground, I didn’t remember it but the bruises told the story.

    So I would never even consider judging anyone on how they respond to trauma. Never. You just don’t know. The mind is really a mystery and you don’t know why you do what you do and sometimes you don’t even know what happened. That’s the truth.

  13. Eurydice says:

    From my experience, this is how I see it. Lots of things can happen all at the same time – emotions, fears, suspicions, misplaced guilt, responsibility to others, repression, depression, trying to protect oneself, plus personal ambitions and plain old exhaustion – all of this while you’re trying to get your work done. It takes time to sort it all out in your head, and more time to put it into words. And after that, communication to others means you can only express one thing at a time, especially in the world of soundbites. So, I can see how there could be multiple reasons for how Salma handled the situation, how they could be contradictory, and how they could all be true.

  14. AnnE says:

    I’m not critical of what she did or didn’t do at the time, everyone does what they need to do to survive in the moment. I do have sideeye for her rationalizing it and excusing her lack of action years later. However, I have to admit I don’t necessarily trust her, I can still remember her shadiness when her bf / husband was actively trying to deny his son with the original supermodel Linda Evangelista.

  15. DS9 says:

    It’s really not an uncommon response. Siblings, students, scouts, athletes do similarly.

    “I’m the only one he’s doing this to. If I speak up and tell other people, he could retaliate against me or turn away from people he isn’t hurting. It’s my fault anyway, It’s not that bad, I must have done something wrong that those people won’t do and he’ll behave. But if he doesn’t, then I’ll say something.”

  16. MC says:

    I hear both sides. As someone who was sexually harassed and sexually assaulted in professional settings in my 20’s, I understand what Selma says (must’ve been just me, my fault) but also the justified anger f try on Penelope. The only people who win are the assaulters, consistently getting away with it from the beginning of time…

  17. Regina Falangie says:

    I love all these responses and the kindness and empathy you all are showing!! Time and time again I’m reminded of why celebitchy is my safe place.

    Thank you. ❤️

  18. A.Key says:

    I totally understand what she’s saying. Also, she didn’t own anyone explanations nor was she obliged to talk about what had happened to her to anyone, not even Penelope Cruz…. Lets stop with the victim blaming and the whole “why didn’t you tell immediately” narrative. It’s destructive and completely tone-deaf with regards to the victim’s experiences and trauma.

  19. Poppy says:

    I can understand why Peelope Cruz might be upset, but honestly, Salma Hayek doesn’t owe anybody an explanation. She was the one who was sexually assaulted and harassed. Why do we keep doing this? The ownus of explanation should be on the sex offender not the victim!

  20. whybother says:

    I’m not going to judge her on that. here we are, removed from that situation and have all the info, so it is easy to say I would definitely tell my friends about it. but most of the time, we’ll think it only happened to you, you probably should do x/y/z to not become a victim and you think your friend has a better chance of avoiding it. let the blaming on the accuser not the victims