Telltale phrase that gave Weinstein away
TWO years after it all came crashing down for former studio executive and alleged rapist Harvey Weinstein, a new Hulu documentary, Untouchable, paints a devastating picture of how it all happened.
Directed by Ursula Macfarlane, Untouchable combines interviews with Weinstein's accusers, his former co-workers and journalists to bring much-needed context to an incredibly wide-ranging scandal.
WARNING: This article contains descriptions of sexual and physical assault
By now, more than 80 women have accused the big-time producer - who is behind films like Pulp Fiction (1994), Heavenly Creatures (1994) and Shakespeare in Love (1998) - of sexual misconduct or, in quite a few cases, sexual assault. Though allegations and rumours against Weinstein swirled for many years, they weren't public knowledge until many of his accusers went public via simultaneous reports from The New York Times and The New Yorker in October 2017.
What followed can only be described as the opening of a floodgate: Women all over the world shared their stories of sexual misconduct, spawning the global #MeToo movement.
Untouchable premiered at Sundance in January to positive reviews, aired on the BBC in recent months, and now finally comes to Hulu. Actors featured include Rosanna Arquette, Paz de la Huerta, Erika Rosenbaum, Caitlin Dulany, Hope Exiner d'Amore, Louise Godbold, and Nannette Klatt, all of whom have a story to share about a time Weinstein violated them. (And as anyone following the news story knows, they are just the tip of the iceberg.)
Weinstein denies all allegations of non-consensual sex and has pleaded not guilty to indictments against him. His rape trial set for next month was recently delayed until January 6, 2020.
Though the stories are not new - the accusers in the film speak of him coercing them to his hotel, forcing them to give him a massage, masturbating in front of them, having sex with them after they said no - the film provides invaluable context for the rise and fall of a man who got away with this behaviour for so long. It also, crucially, reminds us that Weinstein was not an outlier - just the face of a prevalent culture of abuse.
Here are seven takeaways from the documentary to be on the lookout for:
WEINSTEIN'S RAPE ACCUSATIONS DATE BACK TO THE 1970s
In a talking head interview, Hope d'Amore describes an encounter with Weinstein in 1978. D'Amore was a college student who was introduced to Weinstein in Buffalo, NY, where Weinstein and his brother Bob were producing rock concerts. D'Amore agreed to take a trip with Weinstein to New York City, and, said d'Amore, he told her when they arrived that "there was a mistake. There's only one room." D'Amore told him to sleep on the chair, but she said he climbed into bed and forced her to have sex with him. "He's huge. I weigh about a hundred pounds," d'Amore said. "I just thought if I just shut up, it'll be over in a few minutes. I didn't want anything from him. I didn't hit him. I didn't try to scratch his eyes out. But I said no and I pushed him away. More than once. And then I just stopped."
FORMER MIRAMAX PRESIDENT MARK GILL SAID WEINSTEIN ONCE THREW AN ASHTRAY AT HIM
Gill, who was interviewed for the documentary, recalled an incident with his hot-headed boss. "I've ducked out of the way of a couple of ashtrays being thrown at me. One of them that probably weighed five pounds and was made out of marble," he said.
SOME PEOPLE WHO WORKED WITH HIM DID KNOW WHAT WAS GOING ON
Miramax's ex-chief financial officer John Schmidt said in an interview for Untouchable that he knew about a lawsuit from a woman accusing Weinstein of sexual assault early on and expressed regret not quitting when he found out. (His assistant at the time, Kathy Declesis, did quit.)
Other former colleagues of Weinstein remembered not questioning the behaviour. Jack Lechner, head of development at Miramax said, "I never experienced Harvey being inappropriate with an actress, but I certainly heard rumours that there were actresses sleeping with Harvey to get better roles."
WEINSTEIN'S GO-TO LINE FOR DENYING SOMETHING WAS TO 'SWEAR ON HIS KIDS'
Weinstein's former assistant Zelda Perkins recalled confronting her boss after her colleague told her he had attempted to rape her.
"He told me nothing, and he then swore on his wife and children's life," Ms Perkins said in the documentary. "Which to me I'm afraid was an absolute admission of guilt because I had heard him only do that as a sort of proper get-out-of-jail card. That was his really 'I'm in trouble' lie."
In the now-famous incriminating audio recorded by the police and published in The New Yorker, Weinstein can be heard saying, "I swear on my kids," to model Ambra Battilana.
WEINSTEIN ALLEGEDLY PHYSICALLY ASSAULTED A JOURNALIST IN THE MIDDLE OF A PARTY
Journalists Rebecca Traister and Andrew Goldman describe in the documentary attending one of Weinstein's parties in New York City. Traister said she asked Weinstein a pointed question about one of his films he didn't like and he began screaming at her, calling her a c**t and trying to grab her tape recorder. Goldman intervened and told him to apologise to Traister.
"He said, 'I'm glad I'm the f***ing sheriff of this sh*t-ass f***ing town'," said Goldman in the documentary, and he then plays the recording of Weinstein saying just that to prove it. Weinstein then tried to get Goldman's recorder. Traister said she saw Weinstein pushing Goldman down the stairs, dragging him out of the door onto 6th Ave, putting him in a headlock and punching him.
"Everybody was aghast," Goldman said. "The host of the party is wrestling with a junior reporter over a tape recorder. It was like a schoolyard fight. I just remember thinking to myself how surreal it was, 'Does Harvey Weinstein really have me in a headlock?'"
Both journalists remembered hundreds of pictures being taken by the press at the party but none ever surfaced. "To this day, I've never seen a photograph," said Traister.
SOME OF WEINSTEIN'S NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENTS BARRED HIS ACCUSERS FROM SPEAKING TO THERAPISTS ABOUT HIM
In the documentary, Ms Perkins shared the nondisclosure agreement she and her colleague eventually signed not to talk about the alleged attempted rape. The document includes a line, "in the event that you require treatment from an appropriate medical practitioner (…) you will use all reasonable endeavours not to disclose the name of any Released Party party during the course of receiving treatment."
RONAN FARROW WAS THREATENED BY FORMER MEMBERS OF THE MOSSAD TO DROP HIS WEINSTEIN STORY
Ronan Farrow, the journalist behind the explosive New Yorker report on Weinstein, described being tailed by ex-Mossad agents, which forced him to eventually move from his home.
An anonymous "private intelligence source" was interviewed in the documentary with their face obscured. Said source shared a contract made between Weinstein's law firm and an investigation firm run by former members of the Mossad called "Black Cube".
The contract reads that the objective was to "identify the identities of the entities behind the negative campaign against the client and support the client's efforts to put a stop to it". The contract had profiles of people Weinstein believed were "targeting" him, including a profile of Rosanna Arquette.
This article originally appeared on Decider and was reproduced with permission