1:24pm PT by Chris Gardner
Blake Lively on Harvey Weinstein Claims: "It's Devastating to Hear"
As women continue to come forward and share their troubling encounters with Harvey Weinstein — the 65-year-old film mogul now stands accused of sexual misconduct, harassment and assault by a long list of women growing by the day, now including Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Asia Argento, Lea Seydoux and Cara Delevingne — Blake Lively tells The Hollywood Reporter how important it is that "society is now listening to women."
During a scheduled interview Tuesday to discuss her new film, the Marc Forster-directed All I See is You, at the Four Seasons Los Angeles in Beverly Hills, Lively agreed to discuss the Weinstein scandal. While she says that she did not hear any rumors regarding his alleged patterns of misconduct, she hopes people know this story isn't unique to Hollywood.
"That was never my experience with Harvey in any way whatsoever, and I think that if people heard these stories … I do believe in humanity enough to think that this wouldn't have just continued," she tells THR. "I never heard any stories like this — I never heard anything specific — but it's devastating to hear."
Lively has known Weinstein for some time. The two joined then-first lady Michelle Obama on a panel workshop for high school students about careers in the film business that was held in the White House on Nov. 8, 2013. Also on the panel were directors David Frankel and Ryan Coogler, Gayle King, Whoopi Goldberg, Naomie Harris and producer Bruce Cohen. Obama released a statement with husband Barack Obama on Tuesday denouncing Weinstein's alleged actions, and Coogler released one of his own. "I am disturbed and saddened at the news that several women have been victimized by a person I had come to know through the purchase of my first feature film," Coogler said. "We need to do everything we can to make sure violations like these don’t continue to happen. The first step is to listen."
Lively also noted how crucial it is to listen.
"The number one thing that can happen is that people who share their stories, people have to listen to them and trust them, and people have to take it seriously," she said. "As important as it is to remain furious about this, it's important to also say that this exists everywhere so remember to look everywhere. This isn't a single incident. This cannot happen, this should not happen, and it happens in every single industry."
It happens so often, Lively says, that women sometimes aren't able to process the severity of the situation. "It happens to women all over the place, all the time, to the point where women don't even think that this is a real assault," she explains. "I've had plenty of things happen to me whether it be trying on a dress for prom at some clothing store, to a director being inappropriate, to a guy walking down the street where you don't think, 'Oh well, that wasn't actually sexual assault — this guy just, like, grabbed my butt.'"
She continues: "It's important that women are furious right now. It's important that there is an uprising. It's important that we don't stand for this and that we don't focus on one or two or three or four stories, it's important that we focus on humanity in general and say, 'This is unacceptable.'"
News broke last week in The New York Times with an investigation by reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey detailing Weinstein's alleged misconduct and sexual harassment with claims by Ashley Judd, among others. It was followed by an even more explosive New Yorker report by Ronan Farrow that was published Tuesday. That piece named more accusers, including Argento and Rosanna Arquette. Hours later, the Times published a follow-up, this one with claims by Paltrow, Jolie and others.
For his part, Weinstein, who is said to be seeking counseling and treatment in Europe, released a new statement through his spokesperson Sallie Hofmesiter. "Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances. He will not be available for further comments, as he is taking the time to focus on his family, on getting counseling and rebuilding his life," she said.