George Clooney slammed Harvey Weinstein on Monday for his alleged sexual assaults on multiple women, saying the famed Hollywood producer’s behavior was “indefensible” and “disturbing on a whole lot of levels.”
Clooney said in an interview with the Daily Beast that though he never saw any of the alleged sexual acts in the 20 years he has known Weinstein, he heard rumors about it for years.
“It’s indefensible. That’s the only word you can start with,” Clooney told the Daily Beast. “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.”
The actor added: “I’ve heard rumors, and the rumors in general started back in the ’90s, and they were that certain actresses had slept with Harvey to get a role. It seemed like a way to smear the actresses and demean them by saying that they didn’t get the jobs based on their talent, so I took those rumors with a grain of salt.”
Clooney admitted he didn’t know about the new allegations revealed by the New York Times that Weinstein paid off eight women. He called Weinstein’s behavior “harassment on a very high level,” and said he had “no idea” Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct had “gone to the level” where women were threatened and victimized.
“That’s a whole other level and there’s no way you can reconcile that. There’s nothing to say except that it’s indefensible,” Clooney said. “That’s not just some rumor about Harvey hitting on a woman; it’s disturbing on a whole lot of levels, because there had to be a lot of people involved in covering that up.”
The 56-year-old actor is one of the first prominent male Hollywood stars to speak out against Weinstein since the allegations came out. Weinstein was fired from the Weinstein Company, his own company he started with his brother, on Sunday.
Many A-listers who have worked with the producer, including Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, have stayed silent throughout the scandal. Affleck released a statement on Facebook Tuesday saying the new allegations made him “sick.”
“I am saddened and angry that a man who I worked with used his position of power to intimidate, sexually harass and manipulate many women over decades. The additional allegations of assault that I read this morning made me sick. This is completely unacceptable, and I find myself asking what I can do to make sure this doesn’t happen to others,” Affleck said.
He added: “We need to do better at protecting our sisters, friends, co-workers and daughters. We must support those who come forward, condemn this type of behavior when we see it and help ensure there are more women in positions of power.”
TheWrap CEO and Editor-in-Chief Sharon Waxman claimed Damon and Russell Crowe had called her to vouch for Fabrizio Lombardo, who she said “had no film experience and his real job was to take care of Weinstein’s women needs.”
The Guardian also released a report on Monday stating it reached out to more than 20 actors and male directors, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and Bradley Cooper, who have worked with Weinstein. They all declined to comment or did not respond.
Lin-Manual Miranda tweeted on Tuesday he was “appalled and repulsed by the Weinstein news as anyone with a beating heart” when a Twitter user asked him to “explain” himself on why he didn’t respond to the Guardian’s request for a statement.
“Forgive me. Just woke up to this — I’d asked my reps to keep any press non-(Puerto Rico) relief-related off my desk. That’s my fault,” Miranda said.
“I’m as appalled and repulsed by the Weinstein news as anyone with a beating heart. And forever in awe of the bravery of those who spoke out,” he added.
Hollywood actresses have been more vocal about condemning Weinstein. Meryl Streep, who once called Weinstein a “God” during her Golden Globe acceptance speech, called his alleged conduct “inexcusable.” She said Weinstein’s behavior wasn’t universally known in Hollywood.
Judi Dench also said she was “completely unaware” of the “horrifying offenses.”