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Salma Hayek Breaks Her Silence on Harvey Weinstein

Frida Still

Just when you think the story of Harvey Weinstein can not become anymore disgusting or terrifying, another voice is added. Salma Hayek has written an op-ed for The New York Times detailing her account of Weinstein’s harassment and power-plays throughout her attempts to get the Academy Award-winning movie Frida made.

“Knowing what I know now, I wonder if it wasn’t my friendship with [Robert Rodriguez, Elizabeth Avellan] — and Quentin Tarantino and George Clooney — that saved me from being raped.”

Hayek met Weinstein through her relationships with Robert Rodreguez and Elizabeth Avellan, whom she’d worked with on movies like Desperado and From Dusk Till Dawn. Miramax was known for taking risk-taking projects and Hayek was determined to make a film about her idol and legend, Mexican-artist Frida Khalo. It was that desire to get the film made that prompted her to make contact with Weinstein. She had been told that he was “a loyal friend and a family man.”

He offered to pay for the rights for everything Hayek had already developed, would get the minimum SAG amount as an actress plus 10% and a producer credit with no money attached to it. Hayek was also required to sign on to several more film deals with Miramax. An opportunity Hayek saw to cement herself as a leading lady and one of the few leading ladies of color in mainstream film.

“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 …”

What came next was a series of power-plays by Weinstein in an attempt to take advantage of Hayek despite her clear and consistent rejection. Hayek recounts incidents from Weinstein dragging her out of gala openings to spending with him at private parties where the other women were high-priced prostitutes to treats of him saying, “I will kill you, don’t think I can’t.”

All the while he was holding Frida hostage, always threatening to take it away from her by replacing her with another actress and take her script that she’d spent years researching to someone else. Finally, he allegedly gave her a list of four demands that she had to accomplish if he was to continue backing Frida:

1. Get a rewrite of the script, with no additional payment.

2. Raise $10 million to finance the film.

3. Attach an A-list director.

4. Cast four of the smaller roles with prominent actors.

Edward Norton stepped forward to help rewrite the script as well fill one of those smaller roles along with Antonio Banderas,  Ashley Judd, and Geoffrey Rush. Her friend Margaret Perenchio, a first-time producer, put up the money. Now, because Weinstein is a bully, this caused him to go into one of his rages. He wanted Hayek to fail and her continued resolution and success must have made his black heart rage.

Still, he continued to sexualize Hayek during her performance as Frida, complaining about the unibrow and insisting she eliminate the limp. In Weinstein’s eyes Hayek’s only value was her sex appeal, something he told her after asking everyone else in the room to step out, and without it, he saw no point in it being made.

Hayek admits being “lost in the fog of a sort of Stockholm syndrome, I wanted him to see me as an artist: not only as a capable actress but also as somebody who could identify a compelling story and had the vision to tell it in an original way.” Which is not unreasonable at all. At this time in his career, Weinstein was the man you wanted to impress. Approval by him would lead to opportunities. Not to mention Hayek worked her damn ass off to produce this movie, as you recall, for no extra pay.

“I was hoping he would acknowledge me as a producer, who on top of delivering his list of demands shepherded the script and obtained the permits to use the paintings. I had negotiated with the Mexican government, and with whomever I had to, to get locations that had never been given to anyone in the past — including Frida Kahlo’s houses and the murals of Kahlo’s husband, Diego Rivera, among others.”

That didn’t matter. What Weinstein wanted, according to Hayek, was a same-sex scene with full-frontal nudity. That was the one option to continue making the film.

Can we just pause for a moment to say fuck Harvey Weinstein? I 100% believe Salma Hayek and I can only imagine how heartbreaking it must be to want to tell a story about an amazingly talented female artist and have it all come down to your sexual appeal. Not to mention Frida Khalo was a prolific artist who suffered through a life of immense pain due to being impaled through her pelvis after a bus accident. Additionally, she was a queer artist who suffered in an emotionally abusive relationship by her husband and despite being a socialist and non-conforming person, Frida Khalo’s image and art have been heavily glammed up and sexualized by non-Mexican society.

For Salma Hayek to have to basically offer up her body and dignity in order to tell this story and tell it the best way she could, is just…it is fucking infuriating.

“I arrived on the set the day we were to shoot the scene that I believed would save the movie. And for the first and last time in my career, I had a nervous breakdown: My body began to shake uncontrollably, my breath was short and I began to cry and cry, unable to stop, as if I were throwing up tears.

Since those around me had no knowledge of my history of Harvey, they were very surprised by my struggle that morning. It was not because I would be naked with another woman. It was because I would be naked with her for Harvey Weinstein. But I could not tell them then.”

Frida did well,  eventually won two Oscars and Hayek was nominated for an Oscar for it, that did not mean she had won. She was still under contract with Miramax and Weinstein never offered her a starring role in a movie again, forced into minor supporting roles after just getting nominated for an Oscar. It is this part, more than anything else, that illustrated the economic issue with this.

Despite having just created an excellent film as both an actress and a producer, she was forced to play bit parts in movies that stopped her from being able to go out and take other, better opportunities. Especially as a Mexican actress who would already have to deal with only getting offered “certain kinds of roles,” Hayek was unable to fully live up to her post-Oscar nom potential because of Harvey Weinstein.

As we have covered many cases of alleged sexual assault and alleged concerning Harvey Weinstein, Hayek’s personal and specific account really pained my heart. Growing up she, along with fellow alleged Weinstein victim, Angelina Jolie were my personal heroines. I loved the way they were both sexual women who owned their power and strength on camera and on screen. To me, as a young woman, they were emblems that your body did not have to be an obstacle just because it made you desirable. Yet, this reminds me that women, actresses, models, etc are asked to do things for the sake of their career that can be framed as empowerment but are really objectification in disguise. I now have another reason for admiring Hayek, for speaking her truth even with the doubts and fears that what she had to say wasn’t important.

It was important to everyone and to me.

(via The New York Times, image: Miramax)

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