Director Paul Schrader Clarifies Harvey Weinstein Comments

Paul Schrader - First Reformed Photocall - Getty - H 2017
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The filmmaker criticized Weinstein for re-editing films, but drew criticism himself for seeming to downplay the charges of sexual harrassment.

Paul Schrader has removed a Facebook post in which he criticized Harvey Weinstein’s well-known habit of editing films by famous filmmakers after it drew heavy criticism for seeming to downplay the multiple charges of sexual abuse and harassment that have now been lodged against the former co-chairman of The Weinstein Co.

“What I said was misinterpreted,” Schrader told The Hollywood Reporter. “I’m going to wipe out all those posts. It was clearly something stupid. The worst part of Facebook is you think you are part of a conversation, but in fact you got hijacked."

In the original post, Schrader wrote: “Of course, I knew Harvey Weinstein was a sexual gangster. So did most people who crossed his path. It was an odor that preceded him,” although in response to one comment, he added he didn’t know of specific instances of Weinstein’s behavior but just the general “scuttlebutt.”

Schrader — whose films range from Taxi Driver, which he wrote, to the newest pic he has directed, First Reformed — went on to write, “That’s not what offended me most about the man. It was the fact that he purchased films by both Bernardo Bertolucci and Wong Kar-Wai and then recut them. TWC offered to purchase Bret Ellis and my The Canyons on the proviso that Harvey could recut it — Why would Bret and I, I screamed into the phone, undergo the sacrifice of self-financing a movie only to let an asshole like Harvey recut it?”

The post referenced two films, Bertolucci’s 1993’s Little Buddha and Wong’s 2007 My Blueberry Nights, which Weinstein re-edited for their American release, as well as Schrader and Bret Easton Ellis’ The Canyons, which was ultimately released by IFC Films in 2013 after the filmmakers turned down an offer from Weinstein’s company. Within the indie film world, Weinstein’s habit of recutting movies, often against filmmakers' wishes, earned him the nickname “Harvey Scissorhands.”

“It’s always sort of baffled me why he would hire someone like Wong Kar-Wai and Bertolucci,” Schrader explained. “But those [the current allegations and how he recut films] are two separate issues, but some people thought [I was saying] there were comparisons to be made.”

He added, “Harvey had a reputation. It wasn't just in this area [of sexual predatory behavior], but in all areas — assaulting journalists, degrading filmmakers. The sexual stuff is part of a whole sociopathic pattern. I’m glad I never did business with him.”