Just when we thought Harvey Weinstein’s actions couldn’t possibly become more egregious, the former film producer has shocked us once more.
In filings obtained by The Blast, Weinstein’s lawyers cite quotes and behavior from A-list actresses Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, and Gwyneth Paltrow in his legal defense. Yes. IN. HIS. LEGAL. DEFENSE.
These same actresses spoke out against Weinstein when the decades worth of sexual assault and harassment allegations leveled against him were made public in October by The New York Times and The New Yorker.
Paltrow opened up about her dealings with Weinstein to the Times and described an incident early in her career during which the producer asked her to join him in his hotel suite and later suggested they move to the bedroom for massages. “I was a kid, I was signed up, I was petrified,” she said.
In Weinstein’s legal defense, Paltrow’s experience is molded to fit the narrative that serves him best. “Gwyneth Paltrow was allegedly harassed during the filming of Emma in 1994, which allegedly caused her to fear the prospect of being fired,” the document reads. “Yet, Paltrow went on to star in another Weinstein production—Shakespeare in Love—for which she won an Academy Award in 1998. Paltrow was not so offended that she refused to work with Weinstein again, nor did her career suffer as a result of her rebuffing his alleged advances.”
Have Weinstein and his team missed the entire point of these conversations about women in the workplace, or do they simply have no better defense? If an actress refuses to work with a powerful Hollywood producer, it can put her future job prospects in jeopardy or completely derail her career. No woman should be in a position where she needs to sacrifice her career to protect her physical safety.
The legal filing continues to namedrop by lifting a quote from an interview with Jennifer Lawrence in which the Oscar winner relayed her experience with Weinstein to Oprah Winfrey. “I had known him since I was 20, and he had only ever been nice to me,” she told the former talk show host.
Although Lawrence claims she never personally dealt with any sexual abuse from Weinstein, she released a statement soon after the allegations went public, telling People, “I was deeply disturbed to hear the news about Harvey Weinstein’s behavior. I worked with Harvey five years ago and I did not experience any form of harassment personally, nor did I know about any of these allegations. This kind of abuse is inexcusable and absolutely upsetting.”
“My heart goes out to all of the women affected by these gross actions,” she continued. “And I want to thank them for their bravery to come forward.”
On Thursday, when Lawrence learned her quote had been used in Weinstein’s defense, the 27-year-old released a statement condemning his team’s actions. “Harvey Weinstein and his company are continuing to do what they have always done which is to take things out of context and use them for their own benefit. This is what predators do, and it must stop," she told CNN. "For the record, while I was not victimized personally by Harvey Weinstein, I stand behind the women who have survived his terrible abuse and I applaud them in using all means necessary to bring him to justice whether through criminal or civil actions. Time's up."
Weinstein's document goes on to write that Meryl Streep “stated publicly that Weinstein had always been respectful to her in their working relationship.”
In October Streep clarified that she had no previous knowledge of the producer’s unseemly practices and called Weinstein’s behavior “inexcusable,” and advocated for change soon after the allegations arose. “Each brave voice that is raised, heard, and credited by our watchdog media will ultimately change the game,” she said at the time.
Like Lawrence this week, Streep was incensed by the use of her words in Weinstein’s defense and delivered a blistering takedown. "Harvey Weinstein's attorneys' use of my (true) statement—that he was not sexually transgressive or physically abusive in our business relationship—as evidence that he was not abusive with many OTHER women is pathetic and exploitive,” she said in a statement to CNN. “The criminal actions he is accused of conducting on the bodies of these women are his responsibility, and if there is any justice left in the system he will pay for them—regardless of how many good movies, made by many good people, Harvey was lucky enough to have acquired or financed."
On Thursday afternoon, Weinstein issued an apology for using Streep's and Lawrence's names in the filing.
“Mr. Weinstein acknowledges the valuable input both Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence have contributed to this conversation and apologizes,” a spokesperson said in a statement to People Thursday.
“Mr. Weinstein has been informed that his civil counsel responded in court to a class action lawsuit which improperly sought to include all actresses who had previously worked with Mr. Weinstein, even where those actresses have made no claim of wrongdoing."
“Even though Mr. Weinstein has worked with hundreds of actresses and actors who had only professional and mutually respectful experiences with him,” the statement added. “Mr. Weinstein has directed in the future that no specific names be used by his counsel, even where those actors have made previous public statements about him.”
The original citations on behalf of Weinstein’s legal team are almost comical in nature. After months of uprising spurred on by his alleged activities, which quickly filtered from Hollywood into every corner of society, the producer appears to have learned little. He’s continuing to use women for his own personal gain—and is doing so without their consent.