Stone addressed the international media Friday morning at the Busan International Film Festival in South Korea, where he is serving as chair of the event’s competition jury. It wasn’t long before he was asked for his reaction to the Weinstein allegations, along with whether he was aware of the many rumors about Weinstein’s behavior over the years.
“I’m a believer that you wait until this thing gets to trial,” Stone said. “I believe a man shouldn’t be condemned by a vigilante system. It’s not easy what he’s going through, either. During that period he was a rival. I never did business with him and didn’t really know him. I’ve heard horror stories on everyone in the business, so I’m not going to comment on gossip. I’ll wait and see, which is the right thing to do.”
On Thursday, police in New York and London confirmed they were investigating Weinstein for sexual assault. The investigations follow Tuesday’s exposé in The New Yorker in which three women accused Weinstein of rape. Days before the New Yorker piece, The New York Times rocked Hollywood with its own investigation into Weinstein, in which the Miramax co-founder was accused of sexual harassment by multiple women, including Ashley Judd. Since then, many more women have come forward with allegations of sexual harassment by Weinstein, including Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Léa Seydoux, Cara Delevingne and others.
Stone’s remarks stood in contrast to a wave of industry condemnation of the embattled mogul. A sampling of those who have commented, with criticism of Weinstein and support for the alleged victims, includes: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Bob Iger, Colin Firth, Judi Dench, Hillary Clinton, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Charlize Theron, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence, Barack and Michelle Obama and many more.
Later in the day, Stone walked back his remarks, posting a message on Facebook saying he had been unaware of the extent of the allegations against Weinstein because of his travel schedule.
“After looking at what has been reported in many publications over the last couple of days, I’m appalled and commend the courage of the women who’ve stepped forward to report sexual abuse or rape,” Stone wrote.
Weinstein has denied any criminal misconduct, although his early statement to the New York Times acknowledged that the way he “bahaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain.” In a statement published in The New Yorker, a spokesperson said that “any allegations of nonconsensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein.”
Although Stone may never have done business with Weinstein person-to-person, he was in business with The Weinstein Co. In May, Stone teamed with Weinstein Television for production of his first scripted TV series, Guantanamo. The show is said to explore the Guantanamo Bay prison, telling the story of the detainees as well as the soldiers, lawyers, journalists and other civilians on the remote U.S. military base.
In his follow-up Facebook message shared later on Friday, Stone said he was pulling back from those plans in light of what he had belatedly learned about Weinstein’s alleged history — “I’ll therefore recuse myself from the Guantanamo series as long as the Weinstein Company is involved,” he said.
Other companies and individuals working with Weinstein’s TV imprint have distanced themselves from TWC. Netflix’s Peaky Blinders has removed TWC’s logo from its credits, and Apple scrapped a planned 10-part TWC-produced series about Elvis Presley. Meanwhile, two high-profile original dramas at Amazon — one by Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner, and the other from Silver Linings Playbook director David O. Russell — are said to be in flux.