UPDATED: Harvey Weinstein responded via a spokesperson Wednesday evening to Salma Hayek’s allegations of sexual harassment and verbal abuse.
“All of the sexual allegations as portrayed by [Hayek] are not accurate and others who witnessed the events have a different account of what transpired,” the spokesperson said in a statement to EW. According to the statement, Weinstein “regards Salma Hayek as a first-class actress” and acknowledges that “there was creative friction” on the set of Frida.
The spokesperson added, “By Mr. Weinstein’s own admission, his boorish behavior following a screening of Frida was prompted by his disappointment in the cut of the movie.” The spokesperson also noted that Frida opened in five theaters, not two as Hayek had indicated.
In an essay published in The New York Times, titled “Harvey Weinstein Is My Monster Too,” the actress claimed Weinstein sexually harassed her on numerous occasions, threatened to kill her to keep the verbal abuse quiet, and said he would shut down production of 2002’s Frida if Hayek didn’t perform a full-frontal nude scene.
A rep for Weinstein could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Beatriz at Dinner star recounted how she met Weinstein attempting to make Frida, directed by Julie Taymor. “I knew him a little bit through my relationship with the director Robert Rodriguez and the producer Elizabeth Avellan, who was then his wife, with whom I had done several films and who had taken me under their wing,” she wrote. “All I knew of Harvey at the time was that he had a remarkable intellect, he was a loyal friend and a family man.
“Knowing what I know now,” she continued, “I wonder if it wasn’t my friendship with them — and Quentin Tarantino and George Clooney — that saved me from being raped.” (Weinstein has previously denied all allegations of non-consensual sex.)
Weinstein purchased the rights to Frida, while Hayek signed a deal with him to “be paid the minimum Screen Actors Guild scale plus 10 percent” for the film, as well as an unpaid producer credit “that would not yet be defined” and an agreement “to do several other films with Miramax.”
But, Hayek added, “Little did I know it would become my turn to say no. No to opening the door to him at all hours of the night, hotel after hotel, location after location, where he would show up unexpectedly, including one location where I was doing a movie he wasn’t even involved with. No to me taking a shower with him. No to letting him watch me take a shower. No to letting him give me a massage. No to letting a naked friend of his give me a massage. No to letting him give me oral sex. No to my getting naked with another woman. No, no, no, no, no … And with every refusal came Harvey’s Machiavellian rage.”
According to Hayek, “The range of his persuasion tactics went from sweet-talking me to that one time when, in an attack of fury, he said the terrifying words, ‘I will kill you, don’t think I can’t,'” she wrote.
Hayek said once filming started on Frida, Weinstein’s alleged sexual harassment stopped, but not his anger. She claimed Weinstein openly criticized Frida’s unibrow and her own performance in front of her cast members. When they were alone, he allegedly threatened to shut down the production if she didn’t perform a full-frontal sex scene with Ashley Judd in the film. (Judd was one of the first women to come forward with sexual harassment claims against Weinstein.)
“My mind understood that I had to do it, but my body wouldn’t stop crying and convulsing,” Hayek, who agreed to the scene after numerous interference from Weinstein, wrote. “At that point, I started throwing up while a set frozen still waited to shoot. I had to take a tranquilizer, which eventually stopped the crying but made the vomiting worse. As you can imagine, this was not sexy, but it was the only way I could get through the scene.”
After the scene was shot, the battle was still not over. Hayek recalled how Weinstein didn’t think the scene was good enough and tried to confine the release of Frida to a single theater in New York. After fighting with Taymor, he agreed to Hayek over the phone to open the film in Los Angeles, as well.
Some of Hayek’s claims align with what Down and Dirty Pictures author Peter Biskind and New York magazine writer Seth Mnookin, who recounted Weinstein’s public explosion at a Frida test screening on March 4, 2002, in New York City. When Taymor told Weinstein “the film succeeded,” he reportedly screamed in response, “You are the most arrogant person I have ever met. Go market the f—ing film yourself.” Weinstein blamed the incident, which also included aggressive tirades against Taymor’s agent and Miramax executives, on “spiked glucose levels and poor nutrition.”
As to why she came forward now, Hayek wrote, “I am inspired by those who had the courage to speak out, especially in a society that elected a president who has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by more than a dozen women and whom we have all heard make a statement about how a man in power can do anything he wants to women. Well, not anymore.”
Read Hayek’s full essay in The New York Times.
In a statement provided to EW earlier this month by attorneys Blair Berk and Ben Brafman on behalf of Weinstein, the producer denied any allegations of sexual assault: “Mr. Weinstein has never at any time committed an act of sexual assault, and it is wrong and irresponsible to conflate claims of impolitic behavior or consensual sexual contact later regretted, with an untrue claim of criminal conduct. There is a wide canyon between mere allegation and truth, and we are confident that any sober calculation of the facts will prove no legal wrongdoing occurred. Nonetheless, to those offended by Mr. Weinstein’s behavior, he remains deeply apologetic.”