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Emma Thompson: 'Harvey Weinstein's no sex addict. He is a predator'

Oscar-winning actor Emma Thompson has branded Harvey Weinstein a bully and a predator and said the scandal now engulfing the Hollywood mogul had echoes of Jimmy Savile.

In a frank interview on BBC2’s Newsnight, the star of Nanny McPhee and Love Actually said the casting couch culture exposed in the past week was endemic and part of a systemic “public health” gender crisis that was endangering girls and women.

“One of the big problems in the system we have is that there are so many blind eyes and we can’t keep making the women to whom this happens responsible. They are the ones we have got to speak. Why?” she told Emily Maitlis.

She railed against the “conspiracy of silence” and described Weinstein as “the top of a very particular iceberg” in “a system of harassment and belittling and bullying and interference” and warned that there were many more like him in Hollywood.

Asked if she was a friend of Weinstein, who was credited with transforming the British film industry in the 1990s, she replied emphatically: “No, and that is the understatement of the century.”

She spoke hours after British actor Sophie Dix went public with allegations of a sexual assault involving masturbation, which she said “was the most damaging thing” to have happened in her life.

Thompson said she was unaware of the specific incidents but was not surprised. She said she only had business dealings with Weinstein and clashed with him over Nanny McPhee when Miramax owned the film.

“I think there are probably about a million missed opportunities to call this man out on his disgusting behaviour,” Thompson said.

“I don’t think you can describe him as a sex addict, he’s a predator. That’s different. He’s at the top of, as it were the ladder of, a system of harassment and belittlement and bullying and interference. This has been part of our world, women’s world, since time immemorial.

“So what we need to start talking about is the crisis in masculinity, the crisis of extreme masculinity which is this sort of behaviour.”

Asked if she thought producers, directors or agents were pushing women into Weinstein’s professional path while knowing of his behaviour, she responded: “Isn’t it the same story as Jimmy Savile? If someone’s powerful, you can say, as the nurses used to do in those hospitals, ‘Be careful, be careful, pretend you’re asleep.’ So some of the agents may have said, ‘Look he’s a little bit … He’s a little bit oily, he’s a little bit this. Don’t worry. Again, he might pester you a bit. But, you know, go in’,” she said.

She said every girl or woman had stories of boys or men trying to stick tongues down their throats, lunge at them in lifts or feel them up on public transport and it was time for men and women to speak up.

“I mean, I’ve just said I’ve I spent my 20s trying to get old men’s tongues out of my mouth, you know, because they just thought, ‘Well she’s up for it.’ So I would imagine that that happens really very regularly, and so perhaps this is a moment when we can say to men and women: ‘Open your eyes and open your mouths and say something’.”

She said there were many like Weinstein in Hollywood. “Does it only count if you have done it to loads and loads of women, or does it count if you have done it to one woman, once. I think the latter.”

She recalled how she threatened to walk out of a film after another, unnamed producer told her co-star to go on a diet to appear in Brideshead Revisited.

“I will always speak up because I am bolshy and I will take someone’s head off if I see anything like that,” said Thompson.

On Tuesday, Weinstein was accused of rape by three women – claims that the producer says he unequivocally denies.

On Thursday evening, singer and model Myleene Klass became the latest woman to speak out about Weinstein, telling the Sun he offered her a “sex contract” at a meeting in Cannes.

This article titled "Emma Thompson: 'Harvey Weinstein's no sex addict. He is a predator'" was written by Patrick Greenfield and Lisa O'Carroll, for theguardian.com on Friday 13 October 2017 12.54pm

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