Actress Reese Witherspoon said Monday she was assaulted at age 16 by a director in one of several instances of sexual misconduct she has endured in her career.
Witherspoon said in a speech at the Elle Women In Hollywood Awards that she feels “true disgust at the director who assaulted me when I was 16-years-old and anger at the agents and the producers who made me feel that silence was a condition of my employment,” according to People.
“And I wish that I could tell you that was an isolated incident in my career, but sadly it wasn’t. I’ve had multiple experiences of harassment and sexual assault and I don’t speak about them very often.”
Witherspoon, a 41-year-old mother of three, didn’t name the director.
She said she was inspired by women in and out of show business who have come forward to recount experiences of being preyed upon as allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein continue to mount. Many women, including actresses Ashley Judd, Mira Sorvino and Gwyneth Paltrow, have accused the mogul of predatory behavior. The Oscar-winning Witherspoon said she had wrestled with guilt about not speaking out earlier about her own experiences in Hollywood.
“But after hearing all the stories these past few days and hearing these brave women speak up tonight about things that we’re kind of told to sweep under the rug and not to talk about, it’s made me want to speak up and speak up loudly.”
“I felt less alone this week than I have ever felt,” she added, per Elle.
BEFORE YOU GO
Garai said that she felt “violated” by Weinstein, who was fired from his namesake company on Oct. 8 in the wake of numerous sexual harassment allegations.
"I said no to him professionally many times over the years," she wrote, "some of which ended up with him screaming at me calling me a cunt and making threats, some of which made him laughingly tell people, 'Oh, Kate lives to say no to me.'"
“Before I knew it, he started trying to pull my clothes off and pin me down and I just kept saying ‘no, no, no.' But he was really forceful," she said. "I remember him pulling at my trousers and stuff and looming over me and I just sort of – I am a big, strong girl and I bolted ... ran for the bathroom and locked the door. I was in there for a while I think, he went very quiet. After a while I remember opening the door and seeing him just there facing the door masturbating, so I quickly closed the door again and locked it. Then when I heard room service come to the door I just ran."
“He started to tell me that he found me very attractive and wanted to have relations with me. I told him I was very in love with my companion. He replied that didn’t bother him at all and offered to have me be his mistress a few days a year. That way we could continue to work together. Basically, it was, ‘If you want to continue in America, you have to go through me,’" Darel said. She says she left quickly and told Weinstein: “I’m sorry, I have to leave.”
She also said she had three dinners with Weinstein during which he allegedly boasted about the actresses he'd slept with and joked that a pilot "was on standby because he could never get me to sleep with him."
Finally, the producer would not allow the actress to board her flight to New York, insisting she ride in his private plane. Weinstein allegedly ordered airport personnel to remove Sagemiller's bags from her flight from Toronto and deliver her to the runway where his plane was awaiting takeoff.
"If my manager called me tomorrow and said, 'Actually, I remember there was this movie you were up for, and now that I’m thinking back on it, maybe [rebuffing Weinstein is] why you didn’t get it,' I wouldn’t be surprised at all," the actress said.
“That night... I went out to a premiere after party that Harvey Weinstein was also at. He motioned for me to come over to him, and then grabbed me to sit me on his lap," she said. "I was so surprised and shocked I couldn’t stop laughing because it was so awkward. But then I could feel that he had an erection. I got quiet, but got off his lap quickly. He then asked me to come outside with him and other things I don’t want to share, but it was implied that if I did not comply with doing what he asked me to do that I would not get the role that I had already been informally offered. I laughed in his face as I was in shock and so uncomfortable. I left the party right after that.”
Subkoff said the offer for the role was rescinded and she felt that her reputation was "ruined by false gossip."
"I was called ‘too difficult to work with. It became impossible for me to get work as an actress after this."
She continued: “I was genuinely shocked. I remember thinking, it’s got to be a joke. I said something like, ‘Oh, come on, mate?!?? It’d be like kissing my dad!!’” Headey suggested her rebuff might have cost her roles in other projects helmed by Weinstein, because she was never cast again.
“He told me I looked stressed. He said that maybe he thought I could use a massage. Maybe I could give him a massage,” she said. When she refused, she said, Weinstein told her it would be a “bad decision” and would hurt her career if she left. But, Holly said, she "pushed him and ran.”
Weinstein allegedly told the actress not to tell anyone that she had been alone with him. "He tried to take my hand and put it in his lap which is when I managed to leave the room," she wrote.
The producer allegedly told her: "I waited for the masseuse, but she's late. We can have fun without her. Let's relax." When Mtsitouridze hesitated, she said, Weinstein told her, "You will love it. I'm a guru in this matter. You never met a man like me." Mtsitouridze said she was frozen but took her opportunity to leave when a waiter came into the room with an ice bucket for Champagne.
Mtsitouridze said she ran into Weinstein at the Cannes Film Festival a decade later and he told her quietly: "Don't even think about saying anything. Forget all about it. Be a smart girl."
"He told me that he has a lot of 'special friends' and they give each other massages," Coughlan said. "It was a full-court press. He wanted me to be one of his 'special friends' and go into the bedroom. I told him that I had a serious boyfriend and reminded him that he was married and that we should keep this professional. I was so blindsided. Not one ounce of me anticipated it. It was the weirdest meeting I've ever had in my life." Weinstein allegedly made the offer several other times, to which Coughlan always refused.
She also accused the Hollywood mogul of abruptly ending a dinner with her after she declined his invitation to come up to his hotel room.
"I was stunned," she said. "I told him I preferred to eat in the restaurant. He told me not to be so naïve. If I wanted to be an actress, then I had to be willing to do this sort of thing. He said he had dated Famous Actress X and Y and look where that had gotten them."
She added, "I was silent for a while before I mustered up the courage to politely decline his offer."
"I personally experienced him pulling his you-know-what out of his pants in order to shock me. My basic response was, ‘You know, Harvey, I really don’t think you should be pulling that thing out. It’s not very pretty.’” The actress said she left the room and refused to meet with the producer again.
Haleyi described more than one incident of sexual harassment. She claimed Weinstein once attempted to persuade her to give him a massage and also once forced himself into her apartment after she declined an invitation to join him in Paris. During one instance, Haleyi said she and Weinstein were watching TV when he began making sexual advances toward her.
“I said, ‘I am on my period. There is no way this is going to happen. Please stop.’ He wouldn’t take no for an answer,” Haleyi said, adding that the producer then held her on her bed and assaulted her.
She wrote: "I, too, was asked to meet him in a hotel bar. I, too, met a young, female assistant there who said the meeting had been moved upstairs to his suite because he was a very busy man. I, too, felt my guard go up but was calmed by the presence of another woman my age beside me. I, too, felt terror in the pit of my stomach when that young woman left the room and I was suddenly alone with him. I, too, was asked if I wanted a massage, champagne, strawberries. I, too, sat in that chair paralyzed by mounting fear when he suggested we shower together."