NEW YORK – A few days after sexual harassment allegations first surfaced against powerful American film producer Harvey Weinstein, prominent actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Asia Argento have leveled new accusations – including sexual assault – against the Hollywood mogul.
The co-founder of Miramax Films and The Weinstein Company allegedly made unwanted sexual advances toward Paltrow and Jolie when they were young actresses in the late 1990s, according to an article Tuesday in The New York Times, which first broke the story with an investigation last week.
The New Yorker, meanwhile, published a report Tuesday citing three actresses, including Argento, who accused Weinstein of “forcibly performing or receiving oral sex and forcing vaginal sex.”
Paltrow’s accusations were similar to those leveled by Ashley Judd in the investigation the Times published on Oct. 5.
The 45-year-old Paltrow said that after being chosen by Weinstein for the lead role in the film “Emma,” the producer invited her up to his hotel room and began putting his hands on her and suggesting they give one another massages.
She said she was petrified and told her then-boyfriend, actor Brad Pitt, who confronted Weinstein about the incident. The producer subsequently warned Paltrow not to tell anyone else about what had happened.
The 42-year-old Jolie also told the Times that Weinstein had made unwanted advances at a hotel room in the late 1990s and that, as a result, she had never worked with him again.
Argento, a 42-year-old actress born in Rome who also is a film director, said the producer had forcibly performed oral sex on her – also in a hotel room – while they were working together on a film in the late 1990s, an experience that she said had left her traumatized and guilt-ridden.
She acknowledged, however, that she later had consensual sexual relations with him out of fear that he would ruin her career if she did not, adding that she knew that aspect of their relationship could hurt the credibility of her allegations.
Weinstein’s spokeswoman, Sallie Hofmeister, released a statement on Tuesday in response to the sexual-assault allegations contained in The New Yorker.
“Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein,” the statement said. “Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances.”
Numerous female actresses, including Meryl Streep and Kate Winslet, have publicly condemned Weinstein. Male actors, however, have been largely silent – George Clooney said Weinstein’s actions were “indefensible” but noted that he had never seen the producer engage in any kind of sexual misconduct.
Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, spoke out five days after the allegations first emerged, saying she was “shocked and appalled” by the revelations against Weinstein, a major donor to Democratic Party candidates and longtime associate of the Clintons.
The Weinstein Company’s board of directors decided to remove the producer from his position over the sexual misconduct allegations, handing over control of the film studio to his brother, Bob Weinstein, and chief operating officer David Glasser, according to a statement released Sunday.