Screen icon Meryl Streep, who like countless performers has appeared in films produced or distributed by The Weinstein Company, spoke out Monday about revelations that studio co-founder Harvey Weinstein had sexually harassed women for decades.
“The disgraceful news about Harvey Weinstein has appalled those of us whose work he championed, and those whose good and worthy causes he supported,” Streep, a three-time Academy Award winner and 20-time Oscar nominee, said in a statement to HuffingtonPost.com. “The intrepid women who raised their voices to expose this abuse are our heroes.”
Streep, 68, added, “One thing can be clarified. Not everybody knew. 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,” Streep said. “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.” She noted that, “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.”
Flushing native Weinstein, 65, was fired Sunday from the company he and his brother, Bob, founded in 2005. He had taken a leave of absence Friday, a day after a lengthy New York Times report documented decades of harassment involving women ranging from actresses including Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd to employees at The Weinstein Company and its predecessor, Miramax. Weinstein told the Times in a statement Thursday, “I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it. Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go.”
“The behavior is inexcusable, but the abuse of power familiar,” Streep said. “Each brave voice that is raised, heard and credited by our watchdog media will ultimately change the game.”
Among the films Streep made with The Weinstein Company is the 2011 biographical drama “The Iron Lady,” for which she won a best actress Oscar playing former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. During an acceptance speech at the Golden Globes for her performance in “The Iron Lady,” Streep famously referred to Weinstein as “God.”
Oscar winner Judi Dench, 82, also released a statement on Monday calling the allegations against Weinstein “horrifying” and offered her “sympathy to those who have suffered.”
“Whilst there is no doubt that Harvey Weinstein has helped and championed my film career for the past 20 years, I was completely unaware of these offences which are, of course, horrifying and I offer my sympathy to those who have suffered, and wholehearted support to those who have spoken out,” she said.
Fashion designer Donna Karan, meanwhile, defended Weinstein and put the responsibility for his actions on women’s shoulders. The DKNY label founder, a Hewlett High School graduate, made her comments to DailyMail.com Sunday night at the CineFashion Film Awards in Los Angeles.
Karan, 65, told a reporter from the U.K. tabloid “I think we have to look at ourselves. Obviously, the treatment of women all over the world is something that has always had to be identified. . . . But I also think how do we display ourselves? How do we represent ourselves as women? What are we asking? Are we asking for it by presenting all the sensuality and the sexuality?”
Queens-born Karan is friends with Weinstein’s wife, 41-year-old designer and co-founder of the label Marchesa, Georgina Chapman. Karan called the couple “wonderful people.”