George Clooney On The ‘Disturbing’ Sexual Allegations Against Harvey Weinstein: ‘It’s Indefensible’

Getty Image

Many are calling for more men to speak out about Harvey Weinstein’s behavior and the sexual allegations that led to his dismissal from The Weinstein Company. Now after a weekend of tumultuous debate, George Clooney talks about his relationship with the former media mogul, the allegations that have gone public against him, and what needs to happen next. In an interview with The Daily Beast’s Marlow Stern, Clooney talks about his past with Weinstein, how he had heard about the allegations and rumors over the years, and his response then compared to now.

From the very start, the Suburbicon director claims he was unaware of the more damning allegations against Weinstein, noting that he felt a lot of the rumors seemed like they were spread to “smear the actresses and demean them” in relation to how they landed certain roles and jobs in the industry. He says he took those with a grain of salt, but the acts described in the New York Times report seem to be a different story for Clooney:

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.

He also goes on to share empathy with the victims, singling out the story involving Weinstein and Fox News reporter Lauren Sivan:

And I feel very bad for all of the victims. I mean, cornering a young anchorwoman in the kitchen and jerking off into a potted plant? That’s not just some rumor about Harvey hitting on a woman; it’s disturbing on a whole lot of levels, because there had to be a lot of people involved in covering that up. That’s frustrating. If politicians knew these stories, I doubt they’d have been taking donations from him at the DNC [Democratic National Committee], and I hope that they will all give the money back or donate it to good causes.

Stern and Clooney also chat about Weinstein’s persona over the years, noting how the gruff, loud, shouting of the Miramax head became a sort of character trait. The actor is quick to make the distinction between that and the current allegations, but seems to miss where it all could be connected:

I had knock-down, drag-out fights with him over the years, but he was also making films that other studios weren’t willing to make, and he was making films that everybody loved, so you just put up with certain bad behavior because you felt like, well, if he yells and screams but he gets Pulp Fiction made, who cares if he yells and screams? But it’s a very different conversation when you say, it’s not that he yells and screams but that he’s cornering a young, scared lady in a restaurant and telling her to stand there and be quiet while he jerks off. That’s a very different kind of behavior

It is certainly an interesting chat, with Clooney diving into the political reaction it all of it — including Donald Trump’s comments from over the weekend — and addresses the idea that many people knew but didn’t report the issues, including the claims that the New York Times held off on an earlier report back in 2004 after pressure from several actors and Weinstein representatives. Definitely worth checking out, especially since Clooney might be the most prominent male voice to speak out up to this point.

(Via The Daily Beast)