Meryl Streep Speaks Out on Harvey Weinstein Sexual Assault Claims: "Not Everybody Knew"

"The behavior is inexcusable, but the abuse of power familiar," she said. "The intrepid women who raised their voices to expose this abuse are our heroes."

Meryl Streep has spoken out against Harvey Weinstein, praising the women who have shared their stories of the Hollywood producer's alleged sexual assault as "heroes."

Since the publication of The New York Times' report — detailing decades of allegations of Weinstein's sexual harassment, some of which resulted in paid settlements — many have called his behavior an industry secret that was widely known but never reported on the record. But the actress — who once referred to Weinstein as "God" in an acceptance speech and previously collaborated with him on films like August: Osage County and The Iron Lady, the latter for which she won an Oscar — stated to HuffPost that she was unaware of the producer's “inappropriate, coercive acts,” and called them “disgraceful,” “inexcusable,” and an “abuse of power.”

“The disgraceful news about Harvey Weinstein has appalled those of us whose work he championed, and those whose good and worthy causes he supported. The intrepid women who raised their voices to expose this abuse are our heroes," she said.

"One thing can be clarified. Not everybody knew," she continued. "Harvey supported the work fiercely, was exasperating but respectful with me in our working relationship, and with many others with whom he worked professionally. I didn’t know about these other offenses: I did not know about his financial settlements with actresses and colleagues; I did not know about his having meetings in his hotel room, his bathroom, or other inappropriate, coercive acts. And If everybody knew, I don’t believe that all the investigative reporters in the entertainment and the hard news media would have neglected for decades to write about it."

"The behavior is inexcusable, but the abuse of power familiar," Streep concluded. "Each brave voice that is raised, heard and credited by our watchdog media will ultimately change the game.”

Hours after Streep's statement, Judi Dench — who collaborated with Weinstein on Mrs Brown, Shakespeare in Love, Chocolat and Philomena — also stated her stance: "Whist there is no doubt that Harvey Weinstein has helped and championed my film career for the past twenty years, I was completely unaware of these offences which are, of course, horrifying and I offer my sympathy to those who have suffered, and whole hearted support to those who have spoken out."

Streep and Dench join the many actresses who have slammed Weinstein, who also allegedly masturbated in front of a TV reporter and has since been terminated from The Weinstein Company. Rose McGowan, who was mentioned in the NYT report, told The Hollywood Reporter, "The men of Hollywood need to know they own no woman. The days of Entourage-like behavior and thinking is as dated as your largely bro nature. ... Stand for women. Stand for truth. Stop hurting us. Rise."

Kathy Griffin took her words on Weinstein to the stage on Sunday night, saying, "That guy seems to be what’s called a rapist. I’m using it as a broad term. There’s a lot of them and they are everywhere. So it’s time we started to fucking look out for each other because this shit has been going on for way too long.”

On social media, Amber Tamblyn tweeted her support for Ashley Judd, who participated in the NYT report. "Heed the mantra and never forget: Women. Have. Nothing. To. Gain. And. Everything. To Lose. By. Coming. forward," she said. "Stand with @AshleyJudd or give your legs to someone else. What she and others have just done is painful and difficult and triumphant."

Brie Larson echoed of Judd and the report's other women, "As always, I stand with the brave survivors of sexual assault and harassment. It's not your fault. I believe you." Added producer Megan Ellison, "Women face serious repercussions for sharing their experiences and deserve our full support. I admire the courage of these women." Julianne Moore also said, "Coming forward about sexual abuse and coercion is scary and women have nothing to be gained personally by doing so. But through their bravery we move forward as a culture, and I thank them. Stand with @AshleyJudd @rosemcgowan and others." Seth Rogen noted, "I believe all the women coming forward about Harvey Weinstein's sexual harassment. It takes bravery to do so."

Lena Dunham tweeted of the company, "Easy to think Weinstein company took swift action but this has actually been the slowest action because they always always knew." America Ferrera noted of the industry at large, "This abuse of power must be called out, however powerful the abuser, and we must publicly stand with those brave enough to come forward." James Gunn also said, "If even 1/10th of the stories about Harvey Weinstein are true (and I believe they are), then good fucking riddance. That shit’s gotta stop. And fuck you to anyone who knew about it and let him get away with it. The enabling also needs to end."

After Weinstein shared a bizarre statement on the expose — in which he noted, "I came of age in the '60s and '70s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different" — Judd Apatow tweeted, "The 70s were 37 years ago. You are blaming growing up in the 70s? You haven't picked up anything since then?" And John Oliver became the first late-night host to address the allegations on air, saying on Sunday's episode of his HBO show, "Yeah, you're right — your excuse isn't an excuse. In fact, it isn't even an excuse for that behavior in the ’60s! ‘Well back then, we had no idea that women didn’t want to be forced to look at dicks. That wasn't discovered by scientists until 1988. It was a different time."

Weinstein also noted in his statement that he has brought on therapists "to deal with this issue head on." Patricia Arquette wrote, "If there is a way to cure yourself of being a predator than I hope Harvey learns what it is & shares it with the world. It's an epidemic." Mark Ruffalo said, "To be clear what Harvey Weinstein did was a disgusting abuse of power and horrible. I hope we are now seeing the beginning of the end of these abuses."

President Donald Trump also commented on the claims. "I've known Harvey Weinstein for a long time," Trump told reporters. "I'm not at all surprised."

While discussing Streep's statement on their Today show hour, Kathie Lee Gifford told Hoda Kotb that she has been friends with Weinstein for decades but also didn't know of the claims. "I never saw any of this. I'm not saying it didn't happen. I'm just saying I know a different man, just like I did with Bill Cosby. So it's very upsetting to me on a personal level. This is a man I considered a friend. I feel for his family and I feel for him. It's also upsetting for me as a woman that this kind of behavior is real, and no one ever thinks it's going to catch up with them."

In addition to being fired from The Weinstein Company, Weinstein's political donations to Senate Democrats were given away. His legal advisor Lisa Bloom has resigned from his case.