'Working With Weinstein' Doc Showcases First-Hand Employee Accounts of Mogul's Harassment, Assault
The doc, which premiered on the U.K.'s Channel 4, revealed new insight into the disgraced mogul's actions.
U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 on Tuesday evening aired a one-hour documentary revealing new insight and graphic details from former employees and colleagues of disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein.
From forced massages and showers to physical abuse (of both employees and Oscar-winning colleagues) to attempted rape, Working With Weinstein spoke to people who worked with the producer across 30 years of British film and investigated how he kept his accusers quiet for decades.
The evidence made for grim viewing, though Weinstein denies all accusations made. Producer Stephen Woolley (Oscar-nominated for 1992's The Crying Game) said that Weinstein was "insistent on a certain amount of nudity" in his films and was "always around" when "scantily clad" actresses were taking their clothes off. He went on to describe the mogul as a "bully," showing regret at "allowing" Weinstein’s behavior towards staff: "That is a failing that I have — and other producers at that time — of allowing him to quietly bully his own people."
Woolley recalled that during the production of Carol, the multiple-Oscar-nominated 2015 film starring Cate Blanchett, rumors were rife that The Weinstein Co., which was backing the film, was "heading into the abyss" financially. People in the company were always "coming and going" — a trope that was also noticed by another producer, David Parfitt. Commented the Shakespeare in Love producer, "Those assistants didn’t last long."
Parfitt related his time working on My Week With Marilyn and Weinstein's "creepy, stalkerish" fascination for lead actress Michelle Williams. According to Parfitt, Harvey was "constantly" on set and was "desperate to be around Michelle." But Parfiitt's issues did not end there. After a test screening for My Week With Marilyn went well, Weinstein was furious due to his wishes not being adhered to in the film (he wanted more Marilyn/Michelle).
Parfitt claims he was "physically assaulted" by Weinstein: "He pinned me up against a Coke machine and threatened all sorts of stuff. It was very scary. He was just furious that the film, and our version, worked," adding, "If he goes for you, it spewed out. It's vicious, it's dirty, it's a lot of swearing, it's a lot of unpleasant stuff."
But the bulk of the documentary consisted of Weinstein's treatment of his employees in the London office of former company Miramax. Former executive Laura Madden told the story of her time under the shadow of Weinstein. Of their first encounter, she was summoned to his hotel room at the Savoy Hotel, London. Quickly moving the conversation away from professional issues, Weinstein requested a massage. Her shocked reaction prompted her boss to say, "What’s wrong with that? That's normal. All my staff do this, this is very normal." According to Madden, she was then undressed and massaged by Weinstein, who masturbated while wearing a robe, and then shared a shower.
Upon learning this, former Miramax producer Susan Slonaker confronted Weinstein, which led to the latter telephoning Madden and telling her it would never happen again. But, Madden told Working With Weinstein, the requests for massages did not stop: "It was consistent and constant.”
Staff spoke of trying to make themselves as "unattractive as possible" to fend off any unwanted advances. The all-female office in London had their methods: wearing bulky jackets, never sharing a sofa with Weinstein in his hotel room and always visiting him in "twos or threes."
However, former Miramax assistant Zelda Perkins revealed that during the Venice Film Festival, a new member of staff (who was not named in the documentary) was left alone with Weinstein. Perkins claims she told him not to "hassle" her new colleague and he allegedly promised he would not. This member of staff claimed that Weinstein had attempted to rape her. This led to both her resigning and receiving £250,000 in damages, or "hush money," as Perkins referred to it as. Though part of this agreement with Miramax was to ensure the safety for future staff, Weinstein instead used confidentiality agreements to seemingly bypass this. According to Perkins, one of the "key" points was if Weinstein attempted to settle with anybody else in the next couple of years, Miramax had to disclose the agreement to Disney or fire him from the company.
Gaia Elkington, a former assistant at The Weinstein Co., claims that during their first meeting at his London residence, he "smacked her across the room" as he went for the door. Elkington told the documentary that moments later he said to her, “Don’t work for me anymore, you fucking Mongoloid c—. You’re fired.”
Though not present in the doc, Weinstein's representatives did have this to say on the allegations made: "Laura Madden, Zelda Perkins, David Parfitt and Gaia Elkington's allegations are untrue. Ms. Perkins chose not to report any of her claims to the police at the time and instead demanded money…there was never any prohibition of reporting any of her class to the police nor was there in any other settlement agreement relating to Mr. Weinstein. The use of Non-Disclosure Agreements is standard in the industry. Mr. Weinstein unequivocally denies he ever engaged in criminal misconduct of any kind."
On nudity in his films, Weinstein's reps had this to say: "This absurd claim completely ignores that it is the writer, director and actors who determine content. There are in fact many instances in where Mr. Weinstein advocated to 'cut' nude scenes. Mr. Weinstein's attorneys retained investigators to appropriately gather information regarding both the credibility of claims against him and those making such claims, which is the standard part of defending such claims in the U.S. Any Bond-like claims of a 'covert operation' 'commissioned' by Mr. Weinstein are absurd and untrue."