The stories about the disturbing sexual behavior of mega-producer Harvey Weinstein continue to stream in, with many celebrities, including Jessica Chastain, Rose McGowan (an alleged victim), and, finally, Meryl Streep weighing in. One particularly candid response came from acclaimed actress Glenn Close, who admits in a lengthy statement this week that she had heard “vague rumors” about Weinstein’s behavior for years and paints a grim picture of the realities of Hollywood.
“I’m sitting here, deeply upset, acknowledging to myself that, yes, for many years, I have been aware of the vague rumors that Harvey Weinstein had a pattern of behaving inappropriately around women. Harvey has always been decent to me, but now that the rumors are being substantiated, I feel angry and darkly sad,” she begins.
Her anger, she explains, is not limited to him, but to the industry as a whole, which continues to enable “casting couch” predators who prey on women trying to navigate the male-dominated world of Hollywood.
“I’m angry, not just at him and the conspiracy of silence around his actions, but also that the ‘casting couch’ phenomenon, so to speak, is still a reality in our business and in the world: the horrible pressure, the awful expectation put on a woman when a powerful, egotistical, entitled bully expects sexual favors in exchange for a job,” she continues.
This dark reality, she suggests, stems from the disposable nature of women in the industry, who have to fight even harder for the limited number of female roles.
“Ours is an industry in which very few actors are indispensable and women are cast in far fewer roles than men, so the stakes are higher for women and make them more vulnerable to the manipulations of a predator,” she writes. “I applaud the monumental courage of the women who have spoken up. I hope that their stories and the reportage that gave them their voices represents a tipping point, that more stories will be told and that change will follow.”
Close concludes by describing what she believes needs to happen for Hollywood to purge itself of the predatorial actions of the Harvey Weinsteins of the industry.
“The changes must be both institutional and personal. Men and women, in positions of power, must create a work environment in which people, whose jobs depend on them, feel safe to report threatening and inappropriate behavior, like that reported in the Times,” she writes. “No one should be coerced into trading personal dignity for professional success. I feel the time is long and tragically overdue for all of us in the industry, women and men, to unite — calmly and dispassionately — and create a new culture of respect, equality and empowerment, where bullies and their enablers are no longer allowed to prosper.”
Close’s statement, like comments by Chastain, present a picture that undermines claims by Streep, who publicly praised Weinstein as “a god” during the 2012 Golden Globes and who insisted she did not know anything about Weinstein’s behavior despite working with him closely. “Not everybody knew,” said Streep, who went on to denounce the producer’s “disgraceful” behavior.
The responses from Close and other celebrities and industry leaders comes amid troubling trends for Hollywood, which continues to see fewer and fewer ticket sales and struggles to keep box office numbers from going in the wrong direction, despite inflated ticket prices.