Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced film executive, has been accused of sexual assault by nearly 70 women, and is currently awaiting trial on rape and sexual assault charges. He has pleaded not guilty, and reached an estimated $25 million settlement with dozens of women who have come forward and accused him of sexual abuse. Yet his alleged predation on women in Hollywood was an open secret for years, to the point that Oscars host Seth MacFarlane joked about it during the 2013 Academy Awards ceremony.
With all of this in mind, one would be forgiven for not immediately recognizing what Weinstein says is his actual role in history: ardent defender of women’s rights.
“I made more movies directed by women and about women than any filmmaker, and I’m talking about 30 years ago. I’m not talking about now when it’s vogue. I did it first! I pioneered it!” he told the New York Post in an interview as he recovered from back surgery. “I feel like the forgotten man.”
(The term “forgotten man,” by the way, is most recognizable as a reference to unemployed and disenfranchised people who suffered most as a result of the Great Depression; Weinstein, who is now worth an estimated $50 million, gave the interview from an executive suite in a hospital.)
Weinstein directed his ire specifically at A-listers who he said had previously benefited from his largesse, such as Gwyneth Paltrow, who in 2017 publicly accused Weinstein of sexual harassment in the New York Times. “Gwyneth Paltrow in 2003 got $10 million to make a movie called View from the Top,” Weinstein told the New York Post, referring to a (widely panned) comedy made by his production company Miramax. “She was the highest-paid female actor in an independent film. Higher-paid than all the men.” In 2017, Paltrow was one of many female celebrities who accused Weinstein of sexual harassment, alleging to the New York Times that the producer made unwanted sexual advances after he invited her to his hotel room for a business meeting.
In addition to defending his role as a champion of women in Hollywood, Weinstein also touted his credentials as a defender of LGBTQ people, citing Miramax’s backing of the seminal drag culture documentary Paris Is Burning, and its production of the Felicity Huffman vehicle Transamerica. “I understood the celebratory nature of the film and bought the distribution rights,” Weinstein said of Paris Is Burning. “The same thing is true for Transamerica [for] which Felicity Huffman got an Academy Award.” (She didn’t; she was just nominated.)
Weinstein, who said he gave the interview only to shed light on the extent of his recent injuries from a car accident, refused to comment on his upcoming court case. He has been charged with five criminal counts of rape and predatory sexual assault, and stands accused of raping a woman who has not been identified and of forcing oral sex on a production assistant in 2006.
The Silence Breakers — 23 women who have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, including Rosanna Arquette, Ashley Judd, and Rose McGowan — issued a joint statement, which was sent to Rolling Stone: “Harvey Weinstein is trying to gaslight society again. He says in a new interview he doesn’t want to be forgotten. Well, he won’t be. He will be remembered as a sexual predator and an unrepentant abuser who took everything and deserves nothing. He will be remembered by the collective will of countless women who stood up and said enough. We refuse to let this predator rewrite his legacy of abuse.”
Weinstein is set to stand trial in January, and could face life in prison if he is convicted on all charges.