Famous Survivors: Celebrities Share Stories of Sexual Assault and Harassment in Hollywood
In the time since the New York Times released its piece on the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, much has happened. More and more women have come forward with their stories of sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood.
It’s important to share the stories of those who have struggled with this unfortunate reality in this industry. These are just some of the biggest names who have spoken up, now and in the past.
Another New York Times article began with the account of the Oscar-winning actress and founder of Goop. While playing the eponymous character in Emma, a Miramax property under Weinstein, the executive reportedly asked her to his hotel room even before she began shooting.
Gwyneth Paltrow states that she turned down Weinstein’s suggestion to give each other massages (a common theme in his propositions). “I was a kid, I was signed up, I was petrified,” she said years later about the incident.
Next: This actress and director also had an encounter with Weinstein.
Another A-list celebrity and Academy Award winner, Angelina Jolie has long been an activist for the causes she believes in. Add sharing her experiences to protect other women to that list.
“I had a bad experience with Harvey Weinstein in my youth, and as a result, chose never to work with him again and warn others when they did,” she told The New York Times. As Jolie tells it, her experience was similar to Paltrow’s: She was in the uncomfortable position of rejecting the man making her movie, Playing by Heart, when he made advances on her in a hotel room.
Next: One actress is facing repercussions for speaking out on social media.
Though she didn’t speak to the Times for the original article, a settlement between Rose McGowan and Weinstein from 1997 was used as proof of the executive’s ongoing behavior. The incident allegedly also involved a hotel room and took place during Sundance Film Festival.
McGowan has since spoken publicly on Twitter about the article, championing those against Weinstein and even circulating a petition to have the entire board of The Weinstein Company dissolved. Her Twitter account was then locked, starting another wave of anger on the social platform.
Next: This activist is using her negative experiences to help others.
The story of Ashley Judd’s encounter with Weinstein is a centerpiece of the New York Times report. As with many of the other accounts, it took place in a hotel room. Weinstein wore a bathrobe and suggested “he could give her a massage or she could watch him shower,” leading her to wonder, “How do I get out of the room as fast as possible without alienating Harvey Weinstein?”
Judd, who at the time was a rising star in Hollywood, has continued to act steadily, but is better known for her activist work these days. In fact, last year, she gave a TED talk titled “How online abuse of women has spiraled out of control,” which addresses sexual harassment as well.
Next: It may surprise you to hear that this actor has been sexually assaulted.
So many women have spoken up in support of one another and to share their own stories, both in and out of Hollywood. For the most part, men’s voices have been noticeably absent, though some have shared their outrage at sexual harassment culture.
But one male celebrity took it a step further: Terry Crews, a football player-turned-actor, took to Twitter to tell the story of how he was sexually assaulted on a red carpet. His unique story opened up the conversation in regards to how men are also victims, and how these inappropriate actions are often more about power than anything else.
Next: Hollywood is tough on young men in the industry as well.
James Van Der Beek
Another actor has taken to Twitter to share his experiences. Following Crews, James Van Der Beek added on his own story.
Van Der Beek, who is still mostly associated with his early role as the eponymous teen in Dawson’s Creek, shared in a thread that he has been groped by “older, powerful men,” and that they’ve forced him into “inappropriate sexual conversations” as a young actor.
He added, “I understand the unwarranted shame, powerlessness & inability to blow the whistle.”
Next: An actress speaks out about an incident from long ago involving an A-list actor.
Batman himself, Ben Affleck, condemned the actions of Weinstein in a statement. However, some felt that there was a hint of hypocrisy there — as one Twitter user pointed out, Affleck once appeared to grope then-TRL VJ Hilarie Burton on air.
Burton herself responded on Twitter, reminding her followers what happened, and how it affected her. Affleck responded in a simple tweet, “I acted inappropriately toward Ms. Burton and I sincerely apologize.”
Next: She jumpstarted the sexual harassment conversation before the Weinstein article.
Soon after, another famous face was accused of sexual harassment. In a tweet, actress Amber Tamblyn, who starred on the final two seasons of Two and a Half Men, claimed that much-older actor James Woods made a predatory pass at her and a friend when she was 16.
Despite Woods’ denial of the incident, Tamblyn penned pieces for Teen Vogue and The New York Times, holding Woods and other men in the industry accountable for their actions. Since the articles came out, she has also spoken about her experiences on the radio show, Press Play with Madeleine Brand.
Next: A young model won’t be silenced.
Almost everyone who has spoken has had a long, successful career thus far and mentioned how difficult it would have been for them to speak out when they were younger. But things are different in 2017, and young actress and model Cara Delevingne has proven that.
Delevingne took to Instagram to share an image with the message, “Don’t be ashamed of your story it will inspire others,” along with a lengthy caption detailing her own encounter with Weinstein. Her story includes accusations that Weinstein tried to kiss her, asked her to kiss another woman, and made comments about her sexuality.
Next: She told a creepy story about Weinstein from decades ago.
Following The New York Times article, a piece in The New Yorker came out from Ronan Farrow, detailing the accounts of several women accusing Weinstein of sexual harassment or assault. Among them is Mira Sorvino, an activist and actress who wrote her own follow-up in Time.
Sorvino explained that Weinstein massaged her shoulders at a festival in 1995, and “tried to get more physical” before she was able to leave. She also says that Weinstein showed up uninvited at her New York apartment weeks later and only left when she told him her boyfriend was coming over.
Next: This woman felt that the subtext was clear.
Once the ball was rolling, there was no stopping it. Heather Graham wrote about her own experience with Weinstein in Variety.
Graham says that Weinstein offered her a role in any one of his upcoming movies in the early ‘00s, fresh off her starring turns in Boogie Nights and Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. She said that “[t]here was no explicit mention that to star in one of those films [she] had to sleep with him, but the subtext was there.”
Next: This woman had a horrifying experience with another producer.
Kathie Lee Gifford
While social media and digital publications have been the source of most of our news on the subject, some are using their talk show platforms for good. On the Today Show, Kathie Lee Gifford shared her own experience with her co-host, Hoda Kotb.
Gifford said that a producer invited her over to his house and, similar to the story told by Lauren Sivan, was sexually harassed there. “I learned from that. Boy, I felt grateful I got out of there without being raped,” she said. “But you’re so demeaned, you feel so dirty, and more than anything, you know what you feel? Stupid.”
Next: One comedian dealt with her own “Harvey Weinstein.”
Adjacent to Hollywood, the comedy world has long been known to be rife with sexism. Nikki Glaser, a comedian who rose to prominence touring clubs, chimed in on a Twitter thread started by Anne T. Donahue about first experiences with men like Weinstein.
My Harvey Weinstein was a club owner who constantly commented on my body and made disgusting jokes that weren’t even funny but that I laughed at bc I was young& scared it would affect me getting work that i often went unpaid for anyway. Years later I found out this guy…tells other comics that he could have f***ed me but chose not to. He is in his late 60s.
Next: This actress tried to warn others.
The stories about Weinstein have been passed from person to person in Hollywood, it seems. Actress Kate Beckinsale added her own story to the mix with a lengthy Instagram post.
Beckinsale wrote that in addition to the usual reported come-on in a bathrobe in a hotel room, Weinstein “made threats” against her and told others, “Kate lives to say no to me.” She also said that a friend of hers warned a young actress to “be careful” when dining with Weinstein and later faced repercussions from Miramax for speaking ill of the executive.
Next: A singer faced a long battle against her abuser.
As one might expect, the music industry has also been known to bring about the issue of sexual harassment. For the past few years, singer-songwriter Kesha has been embroiled in a very public battle against Dr. Luke, a producer who she has testified sexually assaulted her while they worked together.
Despite all of this trauma, Kesha appears to be in a place where she can move forward. She wrote a single, “Praying,” which she says “is about me finding peace in the fact that I can’t control everything.”
Next: Kesha also spoke out for this singer when she went to court.
This Grammy-winning singer transformed from country musician to pop icon. And like so many before her, she faced her own struggles in the world of sexual harassment.
Taylor Swift sued a former DJ, David Mueller, who reached under her skirt during a photo-op years ago. Swift won her case in the amount of $1, which was meant to be symbolic for all women who have been in similar circumstances.
Next: She used her film’s focus on sexual harassment to discuss her own experience.
Though the conversation has obviously ramped up recently, sexual harassment in Hollywood has never been a secret. Way back in 2005, Charlize Theron spoke out her own experience.
At the time, Theron’s latest movie was North Country, which detailed the first successful class-action sexual-harassment case in the U.S., so it was only fitting that she would divulge her thoughts on the issue. Theron told the story of how she went to a director’s house when she was 18, and he answered the door in his pajamas and offered her a drink.
“It pretty soon became very clear to me what the situation was,” she said.
Next: She was slut-shamed by the director of a major franchise.
Weinstein definitely isn’t the only major Hollywood big shot mentioned when discussing misogyny. Years ago, there was a lot of controversy surrounding Megan Fox’s exit from Michael Bay’s Transformers series, and one Twitter user brought it up again in light of the Weinstein allegations.
In a thread featuring a video clip and screenshots of various articles on the subject, popculturediedin2009 tweeted about how Bay treated Fox like a sex object, having her wash his car and “parade around” in front of him in costumes for hours. Also included is a letter where members of the Transformers crew call her “a porn star” and an “unfriendly b***h,” which the director later disavowed.
Next: She’s a renowned actress and activist, but she faced her own trials over the years.
Most of the allegations regarding Weinstein didn’t begin until the ‘90s, but sexual harassment has been an issue in Hollywood far longer than that. Actresses of decades past, like Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland, faced these struggles, and women such as Jane Fonda have used the modern platform to speak out about their younger experiences.
In an interview about feminism with actress Brie Larson, Fonda mentioned that she had been raped, sexually abused, and “fired because [she] wouldn’t sleep with [her] boss.” She also talked about how she wouldn’t get a role because she wasn’t comfortable “dressing as a fantasy for the male gaze.”
Next: A director filmed her and kept the tape for himself.
She’s received a lot of praise for her current role in HBO’s Westworld, but Thandie Newton has been acting for decades. Last year, she told W Magazine about an incident that changed her forever.
“A director, on a callback, had a camera shooting up my skirt and asked me to touch my t*** and think about the guy making love to me in the scene,” she said. Newton said that she was talking about this now in hopes that “one person will read this and it will stop them getting sexually abused by a director.”
Next: An interview from the ’70s shows this Oscar winner being harassed by a talk show host.
A lot of what has been discussed here involves more actions than words — after all, if one infers something that wasn’t explicitly said, it can often be denied. But men haven’t always been this careful, or even subtle at all, when speaking to young women.
In 2016, Vanity Fair shared the clips of an interview from 1975 in which Helen Mirren spoke to host Michael Parkinson on his talk show. Throughout the 15-minute interview, Parkinson spoke about Mirren’s breasts several times, suggesting that they kept her from being “a serious actress.”
Next: A disturbing tale from the casting couch.
Years after the fact, it still must feel like a relief to speak out about a traumatic experience. In 2012, Susan Sarandon told Elle Magazine about a “casting couch” encounter from her youth that scarred her.
Sarandon details the sexual assault, saying that when she entered the audition room, the man “practically threw [her] on the desk.” She added, “It was my early days in New York, and it was really disgusting. It wasn’t like I gave it a second [sic] though, it was so badly done.”
Next: This bright young star was asked a gross question.
Her role in the 2017 hit romantic comedy, The Big Sick, has brought Zoe Kazan into the limelight. In an interview with the Guardian, she spoke about the “super respectful experience,” but added that as a whole in Hollywood, “[t]here’s so much sexual harassment on set.”
Kazan detailed an incident in which a producer “joked” with her about oral sex. “I was in my mid-20s at the time. I was not powerful, I did not feel I could say anything,” she added.
Next: This actress was asked to strip down for an audition.
While talking about her lead role in GLOW, a Netflix series about female performers in the ‘80s, Alison Brie and her costars discussed the difference between auditions today versus those they depicted on screen. “It has not changed that much,” said Brie. “The audition process has not changed that much.”
Brie herself talked about her own experience auditioning for the TV show Entourage, where she was told to dress in a bikini and asked, “Okay, can you take your top off now?” Later, Brie clarified via Twitter that she wasn’t actually asked to go topless, but the sentiment remains.
Next: This award-winning actress is still being asked to flaunt her body.
It seems that when women get together, some of the most important revelations are made. In a roundtable discussion with fellow comedic actresses America Ferrara, Pamela Adlon, Minnie Driver, Kathryn Hahn, and Issa Rae, Emmy Rossum opened up about a recent incident in her own life.
Rossum explained that she was offered a role in a film, but the director wanted to see her in a bikini. She later learned this had nothing to do with the part she’d be playing and suggested it was as though they were saying, “We really love your work, but we just want to see how tight your a** is.”
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