Meryl Streep condemned Harvey Weinstein in a statement released to the Huffington Post on Monday, saying she is “appalled” by sexual harassment claims surrounding the veteran film producer.
“The intrepid women who raised their voices to expose this abuse are our heroes,” Streep said.
On Thursday, the New York Times published a report revealing decades of sexual harassment allegations against the Weinstein Co. co-founder by actresses and female employees. The Times story featured on-the-record comments from well-known actress Ashley Judd, who said that two decades ago, Weinstein lured her to his hotel room, where he tried to convince her to let him give her a massage or to watch him shower.
“Women have been talking about Harvey amongst ourselves for a long time, and it’s simply beyond time to have the conversation publicly,” Judd told the Times.
Streep has collaborated with Weinstein on a number of films and jokingly referred to the disgraced film executive as “God” in a speech at the 2012 Golden Globe Awards, in a reference to his reputation as a Hollywood heavyweight. But in her statement, Streep was careful to note that she had not been aware of the allegations against Weinstein.
“One thing can be clarified. Not everybody knew. Harvey supported the work fiercely, was exasperating but respectful with me in our working relationship, and with many others with whom he worked professionally,” Streep said. “I didn’t know about these other offenses: I did not know about his financial settlements with actresses and colleagues; I did not know about his having meetings in his hotel room, his bathroom, or other inappropriate, coercive acts.”
Streep added that “if everybody knew, I don’t believe that all the investigative reporters in the entertainment and the hard news media would have neglected for decades to write about it.”
Streep’s comments follow Weinstein’s termination from the Weinstein Co. The film studio’s board of directors said in a statement Sunday that “new information” about the producer’s alleged sexual misconduct informed their decision to fire Weinstein, who had initially announced that he would take a leave of absence from the company following the explosive Times story.
Streep’s statement has garnered a wave of criticism, largely from those questioning her assertion that she was unaware of the series of claims against Weinstein. A similar thread suggests her silence on the allegations is hypocritical in the wake of her outspoken condemnation of President Trump. Judd has also faced similar criticism. Defenders have pointed out that Weinstein — not Judd or other women who have collaborated or associated with him in the past — is the problem.
Weinstein’s well-known association with liberal causes, which Streep referenced in her statement, has offered another source of contempt from conservatives.
“Saturday Night Live” has been called out for leaving the news out of its most recent show, particularly during the headline-fueled “Weekend Update” segment. (A source told The New York Times that the sketch comedy show had prepared jokes about the allegations, but shelved them before the episode aired.) Other late-night hosts have faced criticism for not mentioning the news. Aside from a blink-and-you-missed-it joke from Trevor Noah on Thursday night, John Oliver appears to be the first late-night comedian to directly address the allegations.
In closing her statement Monday, Streep said that Weinstein’s alleged behavior was “inexcusable, but the abuse of power familiar.”
“Each brave voice that is raised, heard and credited by our watchdog media will ultimately change the game,” she added.