Molly Ringwald opened up about the numerous times she’s contended with the pervasive culture of sexual harassment in Hollywood in an essay for The New Yorker titled, “All the Other Harvey Weinsteins.” The piece arrives amidst the ongoing Harvey Weinstein scandal and as numerous women begin to detail their own experiences with sexual harassment and assault in the film and television industry.
Ringwald called the Weinstein scandal “a thread that has tangled its way through Hollywood, connecting women, mostly actresses, in a depressingly common way. We all seem to have a Harvey story, each one a little different but with essentially the same nauseating pattern and theme. Women were bullied, cajoled, manipulated, and worse, and then punished.”
Ringwald notably worked with Weinstein on one of his earliest films, 1990’s Strike It Rich, an adaptation of the Graham Greene novel, Loser Takes All. At the time, Ringwald was coming off a string of hit films with director John Hughes, while, as she puts it, Weinstein and his brother Bob were “still a few years away” from their first Best Picture winner, The English Patient. Still, Ringwald said she “was warned about the producer” and witnessed firsthand the Weinstein brothers’ combative behavior on set and in post-production (she also claims the Weinsteins tried to keep her from getting her percentage of the movie’s gross).
While Ringwald noted that Weinstein never made any unwanted advances towards her, she pointedly added, “I have had plenty of Harveys of my own over the years, enough to feel a sickening shock of recognition.” At age 13, she wrote, a 50-year-old crew member offered to “teach me to dance, then proceeded to push against me with an erection.” At fourteen, a married director “stuck his tongue in my mouth on set.” In her twenties, during an audition, a director asked the lead actor – and a friend – to put a dog collar around her neck, which was not part of the scene.
Even after Ringwald took a hiatus from Hollywood and moved to Paris, crude comments continued to follow her. She recalled a profile in the magazine Movieline, in which “the head of a major studio – and, incidentally, someone who claims himself to be horrified by the Harvey allegations – was quoted as saying, ‘I wouldn’t know [Molly Ringwald] if she sat on my face.’ I was twenty-four at the time. Maybe he was misquoted. If he ever sent a note of apology, it must have gotten lost in the mail.”
While Ringwald does not name the producer, the article is still online and the quote is attributed to film executive Jeffrey Katzenberg. Katzenberg has since issued an apology via The Hollywood Reporter. “That Molly Ringwald had to read those words attributed to me and believe I said them is horrifying, mortifying and embarrassing to me,” Katzenberg said. “Anyone who knows me now or back then knows I do not use language like that as a matter of course, or tolerate it. Ms. Ringwald, 22 years too late, I am deeply, deeply sorry.”
Towards the end of her essay, Ringwald said she hopes that the outpouring of stories from women will force real change in Hollywood that will make the film industry a more open and fair place. “Stories like these have never been taken seriously,” she said. “Women are shamed, told they are uptight, nasty, bitter, can’t take a joke, are too sensitive. And the men? Well, if they’re lucky, they might get elected President… I hope that young women will one day no longer feel that they have to work twice as hard for less money and recognition, backward and in heels. It’s time.”