Harvey Weinstein pushed back Wednesday night against a New York Times op-ed by Salma Hayek that accused the disgraced movie mogul of problematic behavior during the making of her 2002 film “Frida.”
Through a spokesperson, Weinstein denied any malicious intent or behavior toward Hayek. But his denial, which nitpicks certain details in Hayek’s account while belittling her via an unfavorable comparison to Jennifer Lopez, made no mention of Hayek’s accusation that he sexually harassed her on multiple occasions.
Hayek, who spent nearly a decade trying to get the film made, claimed in her op-ed Wednesday morning that Weinstein threatened the making of the film because she turned down numerous demands for sexual favors. She says Weinstein made several other demands, including a sex scene with another woman, that he may have prevented Ed Norton from getting a screenwriting credit on the film, and that he limited the film’s initial release in retaliation, to one screen.
“Many times I was told, especially by Harvey, that I was nobody,” Hayek wrote. She also said Weinstein threatened to kill her. “‘I will kill you, don’t think I can’t.'”
Weinstein, his statement says, “continues to support her work,” and dismisses any conflicts as “creative friction” that helped the film achieve “perfection.” However, the statement claims, the title role in “Frida” almost went to Jennifer Lopez, who “at the time was a bigger star.” So Weinstein says, it was only through his intervention that Hayek was given the role.
The statement also says Weinstein “does not recall pressuring Salma to do a gratuitous sex scene with a female costar,” but takes time to add that it “was part of the story, as Frida Kahlo was bisexual.” Weinstein’s statement also says a different sex scene “was choreographed by Ms. Hayek with Geoffrey Rush,” who played Leon Trotsky in the film.
Weinstein’s statement concludes with the insistence that “his boorish behavior” was prompted by reaction to a bad screening, and a desire to save the film. It also contained a chart from Box Office Mojo intended to rebut Hayek’s claims about the film’s release: rather than one screen, “Frida” opened on five.
Read the full statement below.
Mr. Weinstein regards Salma Hayek as a first-class actress and cast her in several of his movies, among them “Once Upon a Time in Mexico,” “Dogma,” and “Studio 54.” He was very proud of her Best Actress Academy Award nomination for “Frida” and continues to support her work.
While Jennifer Lopez was interested in playing Frida and at the time was a bigger star, Mr. Weinstein overruled other investors to back Salma as the lead. Miramax put up half of the money and all of the P&A; the budget was over 12 million. As in most collaborative projects, there was creative friction on “Frida,” but it served to drive the project to perfection. The movie opened in multiple theaters and was supported by a huge advertising campaign and an enormous Academy Awards budget.
Mr. Weinstein does not recall pressuring Salma to do a gratuitous sex scene with a female costar and he was not there for the filming. However, that was part of the story, as Frida Kahlo was bisexual and the more significant sex scene in the movie was choreographed by Ms. Hayek with Geoffrey Rush. The original uni-brow used was an issue because it diverted attention from the performances. All of the sexual allegations as portrayed by Salma are not accurate and others who witnessed the events have a different account of what transpired.
Ed Norton, who was Ms. Hayek’s boyfriend at the time, [worked with Mr. Weinstein on the rewrite of the script in Mexico] did a brilliant job of rewriting the script and Mr. Weinstein battled the WGA to get him a credit on the film. His effort was unsuccessful to everyone’s disappointment.
By Mr. Weinstein’s own admission, his boorish behavior following a screening of “Frida” was prompted by his disappointment in the cut of the movie–and a reason he took a firm hand in the final edit, alongside the very skilled director Julie Taymor.
See the chart here.
Related stories from TheWrap: