Actress Salma Hayek on Wednesday detailed retaliation by producer Harvey Weinstein after she continually spurned his sexual advances while making the 2002 film “Frida.”
In her lengthy account, the actress-producer wrote that after Weinstein agreed to make and distribute her biography of artist Frida Kahlo, Hayek found herself having to say no to his pressuring her for sex.
“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,” she wrote. “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 my getting naked with another woman. No, no, no, no, no . . . And with every refusal came Harvey’s Machiavellian rage.”
His anger became so pronounced, she said, that on one occasion “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 . . . a body.”
She took legal action, claiming bad faith, and Weinstein then tried shutting down the project by presenting what she called “a list of impossible tasks with a tight deadline.” To her own amazement, she said, she managed to fulfill them.
Then five weeks into production, Hayek felt forced to acquiesce to yet another Weinstein demand: that she and Ashley Judd, playing photographer and political activist Tina Modotti, have a lovemaking scene. “[It] was clear to me he would never let me finish this movie without him having his fantasy one way or another,” Hayek wrote. “There was no room for negotiation.”
Even after this, Weinstein declared he would only release the film direct-to-video. The movie’s acclaimed director, Julie Taymor, convinced him to do a test screening — and Weinstein threw a fit when “Frida” topped the score above which he would agree to theatrical distribution. The $12 million film went on to earn $56.3 million worldwide, and won two Academy Awards out of six nominations.
Though vindicated, Hayek said her own “cowardice” had prevented her from coming forward. “Men sexually harassed because they could,” Hayek concluded. “Women are talking today because, in this new era, we finally can.”
Producer Harvey Weinstein on Thursday denied or gave a different interpretation of accusations in Hayek’s New York Times Op-Ed.
Spokeswoman Holly Baird said in a lengthy statement, “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.”
Baird said Weinstein fought against having Jennifer Lopez replace Hayek in the film “Frida” and “does not recall pressuring Salma to do a gratuitous sex scene with a female co-star” and “was not there for the filming.”
Weinstein conceded creative differences over the unibrow Hayek wore in the film and to “boorish behavior [with director Julie Taymor] following a screening” of the 2002 Frida Kahlo biography.