In the wake of disgraced former movie executive Harvey Weinstein's sexual harassment allegations, Hollywood's leading men have remained deafeningly silent. But not George Clooney. In a lengthy conversation with The Daily Beast, Clooney, who admittedly owes his first big break to Weinstein, slammed the Miramax co-founder for his "indefensible" behavior.
"It's indefensible. That's the only word you can start with," the father of two said. "Harvey's admitted to it, and it's indefensible. I've known Harvey for 20 years. He gave me my first big break as an actor in films on From Dusk Till Dawn, he gave me my first big break as a director with Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. We've had dinners, we've been on location together, we've had arguments. But I can tell you that I've never seen any of this behavior—ever."
Clooney, 56, went on to admit that he'd heard rumors about Weinstein's affection for beautiful young actresses since the '90s, but he had no idea the degree he took it. "A good bunch of people that I know would say, 'Yeah, Harvey's a dog' or 'Harvey's chasing girls,' but again, this is a very different kind of thing," the actor said. "This is harassment on a very high level. And there's an argument that everyone is complicit in it."
He continued: "I suppose the argument would be that it's not just about Hollywood, but about all of us—that every time you see someone using their power and influence to take advantage of someone without power and influence and you don't speak up, you're complicit. And there's no question about that."
Pointing to Roger Ailes and Bill Cosby's sexual assault scandals as "watershed moments," Clooney is hopeful that "really bad behavior by powerful men" will be continue to be brought out from the shadows.
"This is an interesting moment. I've seen a lot of people, from Meryl [Streep] to Judi Dench, come out and say holy shit,' and I think that that's been the reaction by a lot of people in Hollywood," he noted. "I don't think that people were looking the other way; I think that people weren't looking, because in some ways, a lecherous guy with money picking up younger girls is unfortunately not a news story in our society."
"This isn't a right or a left issue; this is a moral issue," Clooney concluded. "We're all going to have to be more diligent about it and look for any warning signs. Before, people weren't paying enough attention to it. Now we have to. This is the moment to start scaring people like this into not acting this way anymore."