Following a fiery speech at Cannes’ closing ceremony that took festivalgoers to task for continuing to harbor predators, Asia Argento said that she has known about sexual misconduct allegations against Luc Besson “for eight months.”
The comments followed reports, which emerged around the same time that Argento was presenting the best actress prize at the closing ceremony, that a 27-year-old French actress had accused the Valerian and a Thousand Planets director of raping and drugging her in a Paris hotel.
“I’ve known for eight months,” Argento told The Hollywood Reporter when asked if she was aware of the Besson allegations when she made her speech.
Besson’s lawyer, Thierry Marembert, said in a statement to THR on Saturday, “Mr. Besson fell off his chair when he learned of these accusations, which he flatly denies.”
After the ceremony at the Astoux & Brun restaurant in Cannes, the Italian actress and director also told THR about her decision to reference Weinstein during her onstage appearance. When she was asked to present the best actress award at the ceremony, “I said I’ll do it. But I’m not going to read this shit,” said Argento. “There was resistance [to me going off-script] but we have to do this. We have to bring it back to the victims. To the human trafficking that went on here in Cannes. On the yachts.”
She added, “I watched to see the reaction as I said what I said because obviously I wasn’t on a TelePrompTer. And I saw a woman giggling. And that made me even madder. Like, this isn’t to to be taken lightly, motherfucker.”
Argento also expanded on the role she has played in the #MeToo movement since she first came out with accusations of sexual assault against producer Harvey Weinstein in a New Yorker story in October. “I connect women to journalists. That’s what I do,” she said. Argento has additionally led marches in Italy to support women’s rights and the #MeToo movement and appeared on the E! series Citizen Rose, which follows the activist efforts of fellow Weinstein accuser Rose McGowan.
On Saturday evening, Argento told the assembled crowd at the closing ceremony, “I was raped by Harvey Weinstein here at Cannes. I was 21 years old. The festival was his hunting ground … Even tonight sitting among you, there are those that need to be held accountable for their conduct against women. You know who you are.” She added, “But most importantly we know who you are, and we will not allow you to get away with it any longer,” instigating applause so loud that many festivalgoers could not hear who received the best actress prize.