At a "Women in Entertainment" event on Monday, actress Jessica Chastain unloaded on Hollywood's hypocrisy, exposed in a glaring way over the last two weeks by the accusations of sexual misconduct against megaproducer Harvey Weinstein, whose alleged behavior was an "open secret" in Hollywood for decades.
At ELLE's "Women in Entertainment" event, in a room The Hollywood Reporter notes included many famous faces, Chastain laid bare the egregious "disconnect" between what Hollywood preaches in public and what it actually practices behind closed doors.
"This is an industry rife with racism, sexism and homophobia," said Chastain, who was one of the actresses to quickly come out in condemnation of Weinstein and those who looked the other way over the decades. "It is so closely woven into the fabric of the business that we have become snowblind to the glaring injustices happening every day."
"Oh we're very quick to point the finger at others and address the issue with social action and fundraising," she continued. "Yet there is a clear disconnect between how we practice what we preach in our industry."
Citing Hollywood's public promotion of same-sex marriage and gender equality but private suppression of homosexual relationships and perpetuation of the gender pay gap, Chastain slammed the industry for failing to honestly look inward. Chastain specifically cited Weinstein and pointed out that while the industry was allowing his alleged behavior to continue, Hollywood was rallying against Donald Trump for his "grab them by the p****" comment.
"We rally against the presidential candidate who slants a narrative of his sexual assault as mere locker room talk, but at the same time we ignore the stories and warnings of sexual predators in our offices," she said.
While Meryl Streep and other formerly Weinstein-promoting celebrities claim not to have known about his actions over all those years, Chastain tweeted a few days after the accusations began to stream in that the stories about Weinstein "were everywhere."
"I was warned from the beginning," Chastain wrote on October 9. "The stories were everywhere. To deny that is to create an environment for it to happen again."
Another famous actress who spoke at the event was Reese Witherspoon, who alleged that she was sexually assaulted by a director at age 16 but forced to stay silent on condition of employment.
"I have my own experiences that have come back to me very vividly and I find it really hard to sleep, hard to think, hard to communicate a lot of the feelings that I’ve been having about anxiety, about being honest, the guilt for not speaking up earlier," she said. "[I feel] true disgust at the director who assaulted me when I was 16-years-old and anger at the agents and the producers who made me feel that silence was a condition of my employment."
In her remarks at the event, Jennifer Lawrence described a humiliating episode in which a female producer made her and other "much thinner" actresses form a "nude line-up." The producer allegedly told her to use the photo of her next to the thinner women as inspiration for going on a diet. Lawrence said that when she told another producer that the whole degrading incident was unacceptable, he told her she was "perfectly f***able" and "didn’t know why everyone thought she was so fat."
Partial transcript via THR.