In her first interview since the allegations against Harvey Weinstein came to light, Ashley Judd delivered a new message to the now-disgraced movie mogul, who’s been accused of decades of sexual harassment and assault. “I love you, and I understand that you are sick and suffering, and there is help for a guy like you, too, and it’s up to you to get that help,” Judd said during the conversation with Diane Sawyer.
“I believe that there is hope and help for everyone,” she explained earlier in the interview. “It has to be the appropriate help and there has to be a real, profound understanding on the part of the sexual predator, that what they were doing was wrong and criminal.” As she noted, Weinstein might very well believe he had consensual sex when really it could have been forced.
When asked if Weinstein should go to jail, Judd said, “If he’s a rapist, he should absolutely go to jail.”
Judd was among the first women to come forward publicly about Weinstein through the New York Times exposé. Weinstein has since denied any harassment or forced instances of sexual activity, and offered an old photo of him and Judd at a Vanity Fair Oscars party as evidence that they were friends. “That’s deny, attack, reverse the order of offender and victim,” Judd told Sawyer.
The actress then pointed to another photo from the same event, one where it appears they were holding hands but Judd noted he must’ve grabbed her arm for the cameras. “The look on my face is abject terror,” she said. “I can see it in my eyes. It’s very gross, it’s very gross. I feel for that 28, 29-year-old woman.”
Judd opened up about the harassment she faced from Weinstein. While other women might’ve been warned about the producer’s behavior, Judd said, “I had no warning.” She recalled going to his hotel for what she presumed to be a business meeting. “I remember the lurch when I went to the desk and I said, ‘Uh, Mr. Weinstein? Is he on the patio?’ And they said, ‘No, he’s in his room,’ and I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?'” Judd said, adding that it was all part of his “pattern of sexual predation.”
What ensued was the “constant grooming, negotiation going on.” It began with an offer to massage her and then he asked her to watch him take a shower, completely ignoring that “no means no,” she said. To get out of the situation, she said, “When I win an Oscar in one of your movies, okay?!”
“Am I proud of that?” she asked herself. “I’m of two minds: the part that shames myself says no. The part of me that understands the way shame works says, ‘That was absolutely brilliant. Good job, kid. You got out of there. Well done.’ It’s a very important word, shame, and it’s a very important thing to talk about. So we all do the best we can and our best is good enough and it’s really okay to respond however we responded.”
Watch clips from Judd’s interview with Sawyer on Good Morning America above.