George Clooney has spoken out against Harvey Weinstein, the man behind his breakout movie role in the 1996 comedy-thriller “From Dusk Til Dawn.”
“It’s indefensible. That’s the only word you can start with,” Clooney told The Daily Beast on Monday about the accusations of sexual misconduct and harassment against the former Miramax and Weinstein Co. boss.
“Harvey’s admitted to it, and it’s indefensible. I’ve known Harvey for 20 years. He gave me my first big break as an actor in films on ‘From Dusk Till Dawn,’ he gave me my first big break as a director with ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,'” the Oscar winner continued.
“We’ve had dinners, we’ve been on location together, we’ve had arguments. But I can tell you that I’ve never seen any of this behavior — ever.”
On Sunday, The Weinstein Co. fired its disgraced chief executive and namesake. Bob Weinstein, Harvey’s younger brother and co-Chairman, has stepped in with COO David Glasser to run the company in the interim.
Clooney said he had heard rumors since the ’90s that certain actresses had slept with Weinstein to earn coveted movie roles, but “it seemed like a way to smear the actresses and demean them by saying that they didn’t get the jobs based on their talent, so I took those rumors with a grain of salt.”
However, he didn’t hear anything about women being paid off, the “Suburbicon” star said. “That’s a whole other level and there’s no way you can reconcile that. There’s nothing to say except that it’s indefensible.”
He said he also had no idea “that these women were threatened and victimized. I’ve been talking with a lot of people about this, and I don’t know many people who knew of that.”
Clooney went on to credit TheWrap’s CEO and editor-in-chief Sharon Waxman and the story she was working on about Weinstein for The New York Times in 2004 that never ran, ” the story was gutted,” Waxman said in her op-ed on Sunday.
“That’s a shameful thing because a lot of women wouldn’t have been made victims if this had come out,” Clooney said. “By the same token, I do want to say that Sharon’s been running her own influential website, The Wrap, for quite a long time, and if she did these interviews and this investigation, she didn’t run the story either, and I and a lot of other people would have liked to have known it.”
In an update to her column titled “Harvey Weinstein’s Media Enablers’? The New York Times Is One of Them,” Waxman said: “Several have asked why I did not pursue the story once I started TheWrap. Fair question. Five years later, 2009, the moment had passed to go back and write the missing piece about Lombardo, who was no longer on the scene and whose story had been half-published in the Times. Miramax was no longer part of the Walt Disney Company. And I did not have sufficient evidence to write about a pay-off, even though I knew one existed.
“My focus was on raising money, building a website and starting a media company. In the subsequent years since then I did not hear about further pay-offs or harassment and thought the issue was in the past. Weinstein had made a big effort, supposedly, to curb his temper and behavior, which was reflected in other areas of his public life.
“Today I wonder: If this story had come to light at the time, would Weinstein have continued his behavior for another decade, evidenced by the scathing 2015 memo by former staffer Lauren O’Connor unearthed by Kantor and Twohey,” she added. (Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey are the Times writers who broke last week’s story.)
As for whether Hollywood as a whole knew about Weinstein’s behavior, Clooney said: “A good bunch of people that I know would say, ‘Yeah, Harvey’s a dog’ or ‘Harvey’s chasing girls,’ but again, this is a very different kind of thing.
“This is harassment on a very high level. And there’s an argument that everyone is complicit in it. I suppose the argument would be that it’s not just about Hollywood, but about all of us — that every time you see someone using their power and influence to take advantage of someone without power and influence and you don’t speak up, you’re complicit. And there’s no question about that.
“This is an interesting moment. I’ve seen a lot of people, from Meryl [Streep] to Judi Dench, come out and say ‘holy s—‘ and I think that that’s been the reaction by a lot of people in Hollywood,” he continued. “I don’t think that people were looking the other way; I think that people weren’t looking, because in some ways, a lecherous guy with money picking up younger girls is unfortunately not a news story in our society.
Hopefully, at the end of the day, something good will come out of the scandal, the new father of twins said. “That not just in Hollywood, although Hollywood is now the focus, but in all of these cases the victims will feel that they will be listened to, and that they don’t need to be afraid.”
When it comes to Donald Trump Jr. tweeting about Weintstein over the weekend, “That’s a little pot and kettle there, unfortunately,” Clooney said. And ironically, the Harvey news break came a year after the infamous Trump “Access Hollywood tape. “That is a funny part of it: In ‘liberal’ Hollywood the guy loses his job, but then this other guy [Trump] gets elected president,” he added.
The Hollywood icon star described the Bill Cosby and Roger Ailes cases as “watershed moments.”
“Before, people weren’t paying enough attention to it. Now we have to. This is the moment to start scaring people like this into not acting this way anymore,” he said.
Read the full interview here.