Sexual harassment scandal

Weinstein threatened to kill me: Hayek

In an essay published in The New York Times, actress Salma Hayek (above) talked about her painful dealings with Harvey Weinstein over the production of the 2002 movie Frida.
In an essay published in The New York Times, actress Salma Hayek (above) talked about her painful dealings with Harvey Weinstein over the production of the 2002 movie Frida.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Frida actress Salma Hayek calls the producer, who is mired in sexual harassment allegations, her monster for years

NEW YORK • Actress Salma Hayek on Wednesday became the latest woman to accuse producer Harvey Weinstein, alleging that he sexually harassed her, subjected her to escalating rage and once threatened to kill her.

"For years, he was my monster," the 51-year-old Mexican-born star wrote in an essay published in The New York Times, detailing the torturous production of the 2002 movie Frida that eventually earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for portraying Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.

A spokesman for Weinstein on Wednesday night disputed Hayek's account and called her allegations of sexual misconduct inaccurate.

More than 80 women have claimed that Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them over the past three decades.

Hayek said it became "my turn to say no", after she reached a deal for Weinstein to pay for the rights to Frida, her dream project.

"No to opening the door to him at all hours of the night, hotel after hotel, location after location," she wrote. "No to me taking a shower with him. No to letting him watch me take a shower. No to letting him give me a massage. No to letting a naked friend of his give me a massage. No to letting him give me oral sex. No to my getting naked with another woman."

His "Machiavellian rage" accompanied every refusal and once included "the terrifying words, 'I will kill you, don't think I can't'", she said.

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Once filming began, he chided her for a role that showed no sex appeal and insisted that she add an unscripted sex scene with another woman, complete with full-front nudity, she said.

Hayek believed that complying was the only way she would get the movie made, and since she was already five weeks into production, she worried about disappointing all of the "talented people" she had convinced to join her project, including actress Ashley Judd, actor Edward Norton and director Julie Taymor.

For Hayek, the scene was a nightmare to shoot. She hyperventilated on the morning of filming and could not stop crying; the stress of it all made her vomit and she had to take a tranquilliser to get through it.

"Since those around me had no knowledge of my history of Harvey, they were very surprised by my struggle that morning... It was not because I would be naked with another woman. It was because I would be naked with her for Harvey Weinstein."

Weinstein had a history of trying to shoehorn sex into his movies. While producing the 1993 romantic comedy The Night We Never Met, for example, he tried to bully director Warren Leight into getting an actress to "show tit", Leight recalled. He refused.

When Frida was finished, Weinstein allegedly said it was not good enough for theatrical release and threatened to send it straight to video. The biopic won two Oscars.

Weinstein's spokesman said in a statement: "Mr Weinstein regards Salma Hayek as a first-class actress and cast her in several of his movies, among them Once Upon A Time In Mexico, Dogma and Studio 54. He was very proud of her Best Actress Academy Award nomination for Frida and continues to support her work."

The statement added: "While Jennifer Lopez was interested in playing Frida and at the time was a bigger star, Mr Weinstein overruled other investors to back Salma as the lead."

It also said Miramax put up half of the budget of more than US$12 million, and noted that "creative fiction" on the film "served to drive the project to perfection".

"Mr Weinstein does not recall pressuring Salma to do a gratuitous sex scene with a female co-star and he was not there for the filming," the statement said.

"All of the sexual allegations as portrayed by Salma are not accurate and others who witnessed the events have a different account of what transpired."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, WASHINGTON POST, NYTIMES, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2017, with the headline 'Weinstein threatened to kill me: Hayek '. Print Edition | Subscribe