It's been more than two months since the tidal wave of sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein started surfacing, and now another famous actress has come forward with her story, Oscar nominated actress Salma Hayek. In a gripping first-person account published by The New York Times, the actress reveals how she was asked by reporters to come forward and share her story with others, including her friend Ashley Judd, but the actress revealed she didn't want to share her story then because she was, "trying to save myself the challenge of explaining several things to my loved ones," and since so many others had come forward with their tales of sexual misconduct against the producer, she didn't think anyone would care about her pain.
The actress revealed that she first started working with Harvey Weinstein when she was trying to get her passion project, a biopic of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo off the ground, what would eventually become the Oscar-nominated 2002 film Frida. Here's what she had to say about why she wanted to take this project to Harvey Weinstein in the first place.
"Harvey Weinstein was a passionate cinephile, a risk taker, a patron of talent in film, a loving father and a monster. For years, he was my monster. In the 14 years that I stumbled from schoolgirl to Mexican soap star to an extra in a few American films to catching a couple of lucky breaks in Desperado and Fools Rush In, Harvey Weinstein had become the wizard of a new wave of cinema that took original content into the mainstream. At the same time, it was unimaginable for a Mexican actress to aspire to a place in Hollywood. And even though I had proven them wrong, I was still a nobody. One of the forces that gave me the determination to pursue my career was the story of Frida Kahlo, who in the golden age of the Mexican muralists would do small intimate paintings that everybody looked down on. She had the courage to express herself while disregarding skepticism. My greatest ambition was to tell her story. It became my mission to portray the life of this extraordinary artist and to show my native Mexico in a way that combated stereotypes. The Weinstein empire, which was then Miramax, had become synonymous with quality, sophistication and risk taking, a haven for artists who were complex and defiant. It was everything that Frida was to me and everything I aspired to be. I had started a journey to produce the film with a different company, but I fought to get it back to take it to Harvey. I knew him a little bit through my relationship with the director Robert Rodriguez and the producer Elizabeth Avellan, who was then his wife, with whom I had done several films and who had taken me under their wing. All I knew of Harvey at the time was that he had a remarkable intellect, he was a loyal friend and a family man. Knowing what I know now, I wonder if it wasn't my friendship with them, and Quentin Tarantino and George Clooney, that saved me from being raped."
While the initial story that first broke from The New York Times detailed decades worth of sexual harassment, a story a few days later from The New Yorker went even further, with three women accusing the producer of raping them, one of whom was actress Asia Argento. Salma Hayek's account continues by revealing that she signed a deal for Harvey Weinstein to obtain the rights, with the actress getting the Screen Actors Guild minimum scale rate, plus 10% along with an undetermined producing credit, although no producer's salary, along with a deal to appear in several other Miramax films. It was after that deal was signed, that the sexual advances began.
"I did not care about the money; I was so excited to work with him and that company. In my naïveté, I thought my dream had come true. He had validated the last 14 years of my life. He had taken a chance on me - a nobody. He had said yes. Little did I know it would become my turn to say no. No to opening the door to him at all hours of the night, hotel after hotel, location after location, where he would show up unexpectedly, including one location where I was doing a movie he wasn't even involved with. No to me taking a shower with him. No to letting him watch me take a shower. No to letting him give me a massage. No to letting a naked friend of his give me a massage. No to letting him give me oral sex. No to my getting naked with another woman. No, no, no, no, no. And with every refusal came Harvey's Machiavellian rage. I don't think he hated anything more than the word "no." The absurdity of his demands went from getting a furious call in the middle of the night asking me to fire my agent for a fight he was having with him about a different movie with a different client to physically dragging me out of the opening gala of the Venice Film Festival, which was in honor of Frida, so I could hang out at his private party with him and some women I thought were models but I was told later were high-priced prostitutes. The range of his persuasion tactics went from sweet-talking me to that one time when, in an attack of fury, he said the terrifying words, 'I will kill you, don't think I can't.' When he was finally convinced that I was not going to earn the movie the way he had expected, he told me he had offered my role and my script with my years of research to another actress. In his eyes, I was not an artist. I wasn't even a person. I was a thing: not a nobody, but a body."
After threatening to offer the Frida Kahlo role to another actress, Salma Hayek lawyered up, not for a sexual harassment lawsuit, but to claim "bad faith" on Harvey Weinstein's behalf. Harvey Weinstein claimed she was not a big enough star and an incompetent producer, but "to clear himself legally," he gave Salma Hayek an impossible list of demands, which she was somehow able to meet. The demands were get a script rewrite with no payment to the writer, raise $10 million to finance the film, attach an A-list director and cast notable actors in four of the much smaller roles. Here's what Salma Hayek had to say about how she somehow managed to pull all that off.
"Much to everyone's amazement, not least my own, I delivered, thanks to a phalanx of angels who came to my rescue, including Edward Norton, who beautifully rewrote the script several times and appallingly never got credit, and my friend Margaret Perenchio, a first-time producer, who put up the money. The brilliant Julie Taymor agreed to direct, and from then on she became my rock. For the other roles, I recruited my friends Antonio Banderas, Edward Norton and my dear Ashley Judd. To this day, I don't know how I convinced Geoffrey Rush, whom I barely knew at the time. Now Harvey Weinstein was not only rejected but also about to do a movie he did not want to do. Ironically, once we started filming, the sexual harassment stopped but the rage escalated. We paid the price for standing up to him nearly every day of shooting. Once, in an interview he said Julie and I were the biggest ball busters he had ever encountered, which we took as a compliment. Halfway through shooting, Harvey turned up on set and complained about Frida's 'unibrow.' He insisted that I eliminate the limp and berated my performance. Then he asked everyone in the room to step out except for me. He told me that the only thing I had going for me was my sex appeal and that there was none of that in this movie. So he told me he was going to shut down the film because no one would want to see me in that role."
She added that Harvey Weinstein failed to see any of her accomplishments as a producer, which included negotiating deals with the Mexican government for locations such as Frida Kahlo's houses, which had never been given before, but he only saw her sex appeal, and he offered her one option to continue: to have a full-front nude sex scene with another woman, or else he would shut the movie down, so she relented.
The actress goes on to state that she had her first and only nervous breakdown on the set and she began to cry uncontrollably, "not because I would be naked with another woman. It was because I would be naked with her for Harvey Weinstein." When the movie was finished, director Julie Taymor had to convince Harvey Weinstein to release it in one New York theater, and if it tested over an 80 (which only 10% of movies achieve on their first screening), it would get a theatrical release. The movie scored an 85, and was later given a limited release in New York and Los Angeles, which would result in six Oscar nominations, including one for Salma Hayek, and two Oscar wins for hair and makeup and original score. You can read Salma Hayek's entire first-person account at The New York Times.