When Kate Winslet won the lead actress Oscar for The Reader in 2009, she thanked 19 people by name along with many others in general. She did not mention Harvey Weinstein, whose company financed and distributed the movie.
“That was deliberate. That was absolutely deliberate,” Winslet told the Los Angeles Times in a recent interview. “I remember being told, ‘Make sure you thank Harvey if you win.’ And I remember turning around and saying, ‘No I won’t. No I won’t.’ And it was nothing to do with not being grateful.”
“If people aren’t well-behaved, why would I thank him? The fact that I’m never going to have to deal with Harvey Weinstein again as long as I live is one of the best things that’s ever happened and I’m sure the feeling is universal,” Winslet added.
Winslet made her first movie, Peter Jackson’s psychological drama Heavenly Creatures, for Weinstein’s Miramax Films – a fact, Winslet said, that the disgraced producer brought up every time she saw him.
“For my whole career, Harvey Weinstein, whenever I’ve bumped into him, he’d grab my arm and say, ‘Don’t forget who gave you your first movie.’ Like I owe him everything. Then later, with The Reader, same thing, ‘I’m gonna get you that Oscar nomination, I’m gonna get you a win, I’m gonna win for you’.”
Winslet continued: “But that’s how he operated. He was bullying and nasty. Going on a business level, he was always very, very hard to deal with – he was rude. He used to call my female agent a (vulgar name for a woman) every time he spoke to her on the telephone.”
Current Times Demand Strong Statements
When allegations of sexual assault and harassment against Weinstein broke, Winslet was one of the first to condemn his actions and embrace the courage of the women who came forward. She says the current times demand strong statements.
“In my 20s, I was very forceful and I had a big voice and I would absolutely say things,” Winslet said. “In my 30s, I didn’t feel it was as necessary to go back over ground that I had visited before. I always stood by everything I said. Now I feel like, you know what, this is disgraceful, despicable behaviour.”
“This kind of treatment of any workplace is utterly unacceptable. And hopefully what will happen is that more women will feel compelled to come forward – these women are victims of crime by a man who was always impossible to deal with. I hope that Harvey Weinstein absolutely is punished within the fullest extent of the law should that be the case,” the 42-year-old actress continued.
Weinstein’s actions surrounding The Reader have long been seen as grievous on numerous counts. The drama, in which Winslet played a woman hiding her past as a guard at a Nazi concentration camp, endured numerous delays during production.
After director Stephen Daldry told Weinstein he couldn’t deliver the movie in time for the 2008 Oscar season, Weinstein – according to producer Scott Rudin (who took his name off the film in protest) – badgered producer Sydney Pollack on his deathbed and harassed the widow of Anthony Minghella, also a producer on the film.
Said Winslet of The Reader: “I can’t even begin to describe the disgraceful behaviour that went on – and I’m actually not going to because it’s a can of worms that I’m not prepared to publicly open – nothing to do with sexual harassment, thankfully, lucky me. My god. I somehow dodged that bullet.”
Very Unpleasant To Deal With
Winslet does reveal one thing about the film that she believes has never been reported: Weinstein shut down The Reader with four days left on the production schedule. “We still had a full four days of shooting of very key scenes that for me – as a person playing that part – were absolutely crucial to the story and to Stephen Daldry,” Winslet said.
“And Harvey just decided, ‘OK, we’re done. No more money. I’m pulling the plug.’ We had to stop and were sent home. That was it. And again, this is just on the business side of things, but he was always, always very, very, very unpleasant to deal with. Very.”
That was the last time Winslet worked with Weinstein.
“Damn right,” Winslet said. “I stand up for myself and I don’t pander to what you’re supposed to do and what you’re not supposed to do. I won’t be pushed around or bullied by anyone. I was bullied as a child. Never again. Certainly not by Harvey Weinstein.” – Los Angeles Times/Tribune News Service