George Clooney says the sexual harassment allegations against his longtime friend and colleague Harvey Weinstein are “indefensible” and that he had no idea the embattled film producer was capable of such behavior.
“It’s indefensible. That’s the only word you can start with,” Mr. Clooney told The Daily Beast in an interview late Monday. “Harvey’s admitted to it, and it’s indefensible. I’ve known Harvey for 20 years. He gave me my first big break as an actor in films on ‘From Dusk Till Dawn,’ he gave me my first big break as a director with ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.’
“We’ve had dinners, we’ve been on location together, we’ve had arguments. But I can tell you that I’ve never seen any of this behavior — ever,” he said.
Mr. Clooney, 56, said he had heard rumors over the years about Mr. Weinstein’s alleged misconduct, but that new allegations that the famed Hollywood producer paid off eight sexual harassment accusers over the span of decades reached “a whole other level and there’s no way you can reconcile that.”
“I had no idea that it had gone to the level of having to pay off eight women for their silence, and that these women were threatened and victimized,” Mr. Clooney said. “I’ve been talking with a lot of people about this, and I don’t know many people who knew of that.
“This is harassment on a very high level. And there’s an argument that everyone is complicit in it,” he added. “I suppose the argument would be that it’s not just about Hollywood, but about all of us — that every time you see someone using their power and influence to take advantage of someone without power and influence and you don’t speak up, you’re complicit. And there’s no question about that.”
Mr. Clooney, a longtime Democrat and Hillary Clinton supporter, said the Democrats who received political donations from Mr. Weinstein over the years probably didn’t know about the allegations but that they should give the money back anyway.
“If politicians knew these stories, I doubt they’d have been taking donations from him at the DNC [Democratic National Committee], and I hope that they will all give the money back or donate it to good causes,” he said.
Mr. Clooney also pointed out an apparent double-standard that Mr. Weinstein was fired from the board of his company while President Trump, who has faced his own allegations of sexual misconduct, sits in the Oval Office.
“That is a funny part of it,” he said. “In ‘liberal’ Hollywood, the guy loses his job, but then this other guy [Trump] gets elected president.
“There are a couple of good things that have to come out of this, because something good has to come out of this,” he added. “One of those things is that victims have to feel safer to come out and tell their stories without the fear of losing their jobs, and they also need to be believed, which is a very important element of this.
“Also, this should be a shot across the bow that people in places of power cannot abuse that power, and if you do, you’ll be outed publicly, shamed, and even prosecuted,” Mr. Clooney said. “When it comes to most of the people that I know, where we’re shocked is by how bad it was. This is about show business, but it isn’t just about show business — it’s about everything. We need to get to a place where we can call these people out much quicker before it becomes such a deeper, long-running problem. This apparently went on for almost 30 years.”
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