An Actress, A Character and a Monster.
For a time it seemed that all the great movies that were being produced by Miramax and movie producer Harvey Weinstein were in the limelight on a long winning streak at the Oscars that came with all the glitter and glamour of Hollywood. There were so many beautiful actresses pictured along side Harvey Weinstein. There was no hint, no ostentatious move on his part to show otherwise. He loved the dieform attention from all those who felt he really boosted their careers and were eternally grateful. He was a movie producer who could really make or break your career in acting and he abused that power by raping and beating probably 100’s of women. Behind that kind of power, he had built a cult who helped him with his criminal fetishes, raping well known actresses and actresses who were just starting their career.
We assume each time big movie studios make a movie that actors and actresses are delighted, feel lucky and are enormously happy to have that one unique chance to tell a story through their own interpretation and talent to millions of moviegoers. The movie industry has made it look so flawless, exhilarating and dreamlike that some people in the audience are changed forever and go to Hollywood to make their dream come true. For every movie that is made, there is also the story that took place to film the movie from its conception through the end.
I remember going to go see the movie Frida. I was very pleased Selma Hayek was going to play the lead role. No other actress could have been more prepared and talented to play this character than Selma. In Frida’s life, it was a unique time in the world of art, movies, dance and the celebration of life itself that was immensely cherished. Early on, Frida met the man she knew she wanted to marry and share their artistic talent and life together. It was Diego Riveria, a bigger than life character immersed in the zeitgeist of an artistic world with plenty to celebrate with those who were attracted to the artists’ mind but weren’t confident enough to try on their own. No, this was a gift from God, to be so talented to express, reinterpret and create. It was a time for individuals soul searching through their passion. Remembering the old adage, you’ll never know until you try. Everyone wanted to be an artist. Explore their creative talent and talk about the political revolution and other important world issues outside of the country. They knew they were the lucky one’s born into privilege and could take a whole lifetime discovering themselves and their purpose.
As an actress and as a woman, Selma knew these people, this generation in Mexico. The movie captured a time when a very independent woman became an artist and lived her life as she chose to live it. Frida was very passionate about life and she was also very attracted to a man with the same virtue. It was in 1925 through 1930, when Diego Riveria, well known for his dalliances among the crowds of friends who were part of the artistic genre in Mexico. At the time, there were other country’s artists creating and celebrating. There’s a significance to finishing a piece of art and it always has a story to tell.
“Frida was a breath of fresh air with its honest, yet stylized portrayal of a female artist struggling to carve her way in a male-dominated society, while being at loggerheads with the love of her life, unfaithful husband Diego Rivera.”
What Selma Hayek endured to be a part of this movie collaboration became a living hell; from the start to the finish. And finally in the end, Harvey Weinstein used this movie to hurt Selma’s career.
Selma Hayek at 51 wrote about her personal emotional story through an op-ed in the New York Times. She recounted her alleged experiences with Weinstein through the course of making the movie “Frida” in 2002. Sixteen years ago can seem like a lifetime and then again, when you remember an abusive experience, your body starts to respond with adrenaline mixed with fear taking you back into the past where no one should have to endure what a monster did to them.
“In the aftermath of Frida’s triumphant awards run, everyone was sure Salma Hayek was on her way to becoming one of the new queens of Hollywood. She was already an A-Lister, but now her position was assured… Or so everyone thought… They were wrong.”
“Within months, Hayek all but disappeared from the Hollywood A-List, only turning up in the occasional supporting role or two. Where had the actress whose passionate championing of a story turned it to Oscar gold gone, people wondered?”
The answer, as it turns out, was Harvey Weinstein. Hayek had her day in court when she published this blistering op-ed in the New York Times called “Harvey Weinstein Is My Monster Too,” which explained how Weinstein’s harassment led to her disappearance from the Hollywood A-List.
Weinstein threatened to kill Selma when she repeatedly and repeatedly refused his advances. He was under the impression that if he helped any woman in her career, he was free to rape her. He is a criminal of the worst kind and yet everything suddenly goes silent, once again in Hollywood. Yes, Weinstein had a huge impact on Hollywood’s A list actors; some of them having to admit and recount stories that they weren’t proud of, that they were ashamed of. Some knew and everyone knew among the A-list actors, saying “Oh, that’s just Harvey.” was the answer to many women who were groped, molested and kissed against their will by Harvey Weinstien exposing his already terrible behavior. So this terrible secret remained hidden; quiet as a church mouse. Why? Because some were ashamed. Some looked the other way. Others didn’t want to think about it much less make it their business. And some were completely naive walking into a meeting, a hotel room, a trap for this monster to commit his evil.
Salma Hayek, who also produced the movie, explained in her op-ed for the NY Times: “My greatest ambition was to tell [Frida Kahlo’s] story. It became my mission to portray the life of this extraordinary artist and to show my native Mexico in a way that combated stereotypes.” ~ Selma Hayek
Weinstein wasn’t pulling any punches when he demanded that Hayek do a sex scene with another woman with full-frontal nudity, which Hayek said led to her having a “nervous breakdown” on set. And I am reminded of actress Annabella Sciorra who was horrifically raped by Weinstein; when she was going through a seizure of some kind being violated by this animal. Hayek also included a list of sexual advances Weinstein made against her over the course of filming. The Miramax Weinstein empire had become synonymous with quality, sophistication and risk taking. A haven for artists who were complex and very talented and wanted a chance to express their talent in a Miramax Harvey Weinstein film.
Hayek said, “In the beginning, she fought to take Frida to Weinstein. It was everything that Frida was to me and everything I aspired to be.”
“I had started a journey to produce the film with a different company, but I fought to get it back to take it to Harvey.”
“In hindsight, this was probably not the best decision. Weinstein, as Hayek would come to discover, was a monster. As she states, “Knowing what I know now, I wonder if it wasn’t my friendship with them — and Quentin Tarantino and George Clooney — that saved me from being raped.”
“Weinstein even threatened her life, Hayek says. As she explains, “The range of his persuasion tactics went from sweet-talking me to that one time when, in an attack of fury, he said the terrifying words, ‘I will kill you, don’t think I can’t.’”
“Still, she kept working with him for the sake of sending the movie to production, until finally it became clear Weinstein had absolutely no intention to honor his part of the deal.”
“Once Weinstein realized Hayek would not sleep with him to produce the movie, he threatened to take it to another actress, even though Hayek had done the research and sourced the script. She had to sue him for “bad faith,” since she knew a sexual harassment claim would get her nowhere.”
“Once she won, Weinstein put seemingly impossible barriers in her way to prevent the movie from being made. He asked that she: get a rewrite of the script; with no additional payment; raise $10 million to finance the film; attach an A-list director; cast four of the smaller roles with prominent actors.”
“Hayek did all this, but midway through production, Weinstein ramped up his tactics. Since it was clear she would not sleep with him to make the movie, he told her to either do a full frontal sex scene with another woman, or he would pull the movie.” Hayek heartbreaking describes the day, “I arrived on the set the day we were to shoot the scene that I believed would save the movie. And for the first and last time in my career, I had a nervous breakdown: My body began to shake uncontrollably, my breath was short and I began to cry and cry, unable to stop, as if I were throwing up tears.”
“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. But I could not tell them then.”Hayek never told the entirety of this ordeal to anyone until recently, and she explains the reason why? “I didn’t consider my voice important, nor did I think it would make a difference. In reality, I was trying to save myself the challenge of explaining several things to my loved ones. Why, when I had casually mentioned that I had been bullied like many others by Harvey, I had excluded a couple of details…”You can read the entire piece here.
I thoroughly believe Selma Hayek’s horrific story that was not just about a film that she passionately immersed herself in but fought to produce it while constantly, incessantly being emotionally abused by Harvey Weinstein.
Harvey Weinstein and Hollywood’s Legacy
Guilty as charged, in the public eye. ~Natalie