Still, his arrest Friday caps a stunning downfall for one of Hollywood’s most powerful producers. Here is a brief look at Weinstein’s life and volatile career.
In 1979, Bob and Harvey Weinstein co-founded Miramax, which would help bring art-house cinema into the mainstream.
The studio broke through in the late 1980s with a trio of hits: Steven Soderbergh’s “Sex, Lies, and Videotape,” Jim Sheridan’s “My Left Foot,” which won Daniel Day-Lewis an Oscar, and Giuseppe Tornatore’s “Cinema Paradiso,” which won the Oscar for best foreign-language film.
Disney bought the studio in 1993 for between $60 million and $80 million, giving it an infusion of cash and the backing of a major company. Miramax continued its success, financing Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 hit “Pulp Fiction,” which went on to be one of the most influential films of the decade. The film, which was made for $8.5 million, grossed more than $200 million worldwide.
For an 11-year period from 1992 to 2003, Miramax had at least one of its films nominated for an Oscar each year, winning best picture for several of them, including “The English Patient” (1996), “Shakespeare in Love” (1998) and “Chicago” (2002). Other acclaimed films that came out of Miramax included “Good Will Hunting” (1997) and “The Cider House Rules” (1999) and hits such as “Scream” (1996) and “Jackie Brown” (1997).
Miramax was known for pursuing “Oscars with a drive — and a budget — previously unknown in the industry,” The Washington Post reported in 2008.
But the Weinstein brothers became known for a ruthless way of doing business. “Miramax ran on fear. They’re intimidating, they shout a lot, they foam at the mouth,” Stuart Burkin, who started at the company in 1991, told Vanity Fair.
Even as he was dominating Hollywood, according the New York Times, Harvey Weinstein was accused of serial sexual harassment. The actress Ashley Judd said that while she was shooting the 1997 film “Kiss the Girls,” he lured her to his hotel room for a “meeting,” trying to force her to give him a massage or watch him shower.
Throughout the 1990s, the Times reported, he settled with numerous women, including a young assistant in New York in 1990, actress Rose McGowan in 1997 and an assistant in London in 1998.
Things took a downturn professionally for Weinstein in the 2000s. Disney parted ways with the Weinsteins in 2005 after disagreements over the studio’s ballooning movie budgets and the degree of its autonomy. Harvey and Bob started a new independent studio, the Weinstein Co., that same year, but Harvey seemed to have lost some of his touch.
Between 2005 and 2009, the Weinstein Co. released some 70 films, many of which nobody wanted to watch. Flops included the 2005 film “Derailed,” featuring actors Clive Owen and Jennifer Aniston, which critics derided as “a glossy and often risible bit of trash,” and “laughable.”
During that period, Weinstein also branched out into other fields, buying part of the Halston fashion brand, part of the cable network Ovation and the social networking site A Small World.
“When I first got there, in 2008, the focus was not on movies,” David Glasser, the president of the Weinstein Co., told Vanity Fair. “Harvey was focused on Internet and fashion and the global media picture.”
Complicating matters, NBC Universal sued the Weinstein Co. in 2008 for making a deal to move the reality show “Project Runway” from Bravo to Lifetime. The Weinstein Co. later settled with NBC Universal for an undisclosed amount.
Harvey Weinstein’s professional resurgence came around 2011. “The King’s Speech,” starring Colin Firth, was nominated for 12 Oscars, taking home the best-picture trophy.
Critics piled on praise, calling Weinstein the “comeback kid.” The next year, Weinstein cleaned up at the Golden Globes for “The Iron Lady,” “My Week with Marilyn” and “The Artist,” which would win best picture at the Oscars. Meryl Streep paid him homage during that Globes ceremony with her “God” quote. As Gawker put it, Weinstein had “risen from the grave to feast on the bones of his enemies.”
That year, he was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.
Weinstein disappeared from public view for the most part after reports in the New York Times and the New Yorker in October exposed decades of sexual harassment and assault claims against him. And the allegations continued to grow.
Weinstein released a long statement asking for “a second chance,” and reportedly checked into a sex-addiction rehabilitation center in Arizona. But it did little to quell the airing of antipathy. More than 40 women came forward to accuse the producer of inappropriate behavior, including Lupita Nyong’o and Gwyneth Paltrow. Nationwide, the airing of accusations about him helped kick-start a national conversation about sexual misconduct and workplace behavior, that has seen people in positions of power, the vast majority of them men, step aside.
After his October resignation from the Weinstein Co.’s board it quickly began to unravel. All but three company board members resigned, and although Weinstein’s brother Bob Weinstein, a co-owner of the company, initially dismissed rumors of a sale, reports soon surfaced that the company had entered talks to sell.
In February, former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued the company on behalf of its employees, accusing Weinstein of repeatedly sexually harassing, intimidating and demeaning female employees and creating a hostile work environment.
Schneiderman was also tasked by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo with investigating how Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. handled a sexual assault allegation against Weinstein. But a New Yorker story detailing abuse allegations against Schneiderman earlier this month led to his abrupt resignation.
By March, the Weinstein Co. filed for bankruptcy, which released Weinstein’s accusers from their non-disclosure agreements.
This month, Weinstein accuser Ashley Judd filed a lawsuit against Weinstein in Los Angeles Superior Court which claims he “torpedoed Ms. Judd’s incredible professional opportunity” by denigrating her to the makers of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. This came after Judd refused to watch him shower or allow him to give her a massage in his hotel room “in late 1996 or early 1997,” the lawsuit alleges.
Amy B Wang contributed reporting.