Who Is Asia Argento?

In the past year, the name Asia Argento has slowly but surely worked its way into the American lexicon.

Yes, she may have been known in the world of film, but she was no blockbuster queen, and many of us were first introduced to the Italian actress when she came forward in the 2017 New Yorker exposé as an alleged victim of Harvey Weinstein. Since then, she has acted as one of the faces of the #MeToo movement.

But now, she's come into the spotlight for another reason: She's been accused of paying off a former child actor who alleged that Argento, 42, sexually assaulted him when he was 17 years old. Since news of the scandal broke in the Times on Sunday, the actress has denied the allegations against her.

Here, a brief synopsis of everything to know about Argento.

She's an Italian actress, writer and director with family connections to the industry.

Argento was born in Rome to a family of entertainers. She is the daughter of Italian director Dario Argento and actress Daria Nicolodi, and she also has a great grandfather who was a renowned composer. Argento began acting when she was just 9 years old, earning a role in an Italian TV show.

She has worked steadily since 1985, according to her IMDb page, however her credits include not just acting roles but also writing and directing credits.

She was one of Harvey Weinstein's most-prominent accusers.

Argento was one of the first actresses to come forward publicly with allegations of rape against Harvey Weinstein. In the New Yorker exposé published in October of last year, Argento alleged that Harvey Weinstein had lured her into a hotel room in the '90s at the Cannes Film Festival and raped her when she was just 21. She went on to say that she had a nonconsensual sexual relationship with the disgraced producer for years after the first incident.

She later moved to Germany after facing a backlash that she referred to as "victim blaming" in her home country of Italy.

She dated Anthony Bourdain from 2017 until the time of his death.

Argento was romantically linked to Parts Unknown host Anthony Bourdain beginning in early 2017. She dated the famed chef and world traveler until his untimely death by suicide in June of 2018.

2017 Creative Arts Emmy Awards - Day 1 - Arrivals
Jason LaVeris/Getty Images

The pair met while Bourdain was filming his hit series in her native Rome. “She’s a really accomplished director and writer along with being a longtime actress and a real sponge for culture, music, literature,” the chef told People in 2017. “She’s enormously helpful and inspiring.”

Following the Weinstein revelations, Bourdain supported the actress.

In the days following his death by hanging, Argento remembered the chef as "brilliant" and "fearless," adding that she was "beyond devestated."

She's a mom.

The actress had her first child, a girl named Anna Lou, in 2001 with Italian rock musician Marco Castoldi. In 2008, she married Italian director Michele Civetta and gave birth to her second child later that year, a girl named Nicola Giovanni. She and Civetta divorced in 2013.

She has now been accused of sexually assaulting former child actor Jimmy Bennett.

On Sunday evening, the New York Times reported that Jimmy Bennett, who first met Argento as a child in 2004, when she played his mom in the film The Heart is Deceitful Above All Else, had been paid $380,000 by the actress in the wake of an alleged sexual assault.

Bennett, via his lawyer, claims that he was sexually assaulted by Argento in a Southern California hotel room in 2012 when he was just 17 years old and the actress was 37. A document showed that Argento had made arrangements to pay him the money over the course of a year and a half.

Argento has denied the allegations of sexual assault and asserted that it had been Bourdain's decision to make the payments to Bennett.

In a statement to journalist Yashar Ali on Tuesday, Argento not only denied that she had a sexual relationship with Bennett, but also claimed that she was being extorted by the young actor, now 22. She wrote that it had been Bourdain's decision to cave to his demands in order to make the ordeal go away.

"Antony [sic] insisted the matter be handled privately and this was also what Bennett wanted," she wrote. "Anthony was afraid of the possible negative publicity that such person, whom he considered dangerous, could have brought upon us. We decided to deal compassionately with Bennett's demand for help and give it to him. Anthony personally undertook to help Bennett economically, upon the condition that we would no longer suffer any further intrusions in our life."

According to the Times, Bennett's claims are currently being investigated by California police.

#MeToo leaders, including Tarana Burke, the founder of the movement, have taken the opportunity to spotlight the victims of assault, reminding people that they are not all women.

Burke tweeted, "I've said repeatedly that #metooMVMT is for all of us, including these brave young men who are now coming forward."

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