Salma Hayek, the star of the Miramax-produced Frida, broke her silence about the alleged abuses she suffered at the hands of Harvey Weinstein, a man she’s calling “her monster” in a devastatingly vivid New York Times article.
Her story makes clear how male abuses of power in Hollywood aren’t actually just about sex, but also about gatekeeping prestige filmmaking from women — especially those of color.
According to her account, Weinstein warned her that “I will kill you, don’t think I can’t,” when Hayek denied his relentless sexual advances. But he didn’t stop there. She also claims that he demanded she add a lesbian sex scene — a clear attempt to humiliate and degrade her, undermining the artistry of her film while effectively sabotaging his own financial investment out of pure spite.
Hayek described Weinstein’s “brainwashing” that, even to this day, makes her doubt her value in the industry, and which kept her quiet — until now. “I felt that by now nobody would care about my pain — maybe this was an effect of the many times I was told, especially by Harvey, that I was nobody,” she wrote. Because, “In his eyes, I was not an artist. I wasn’t even a person. I was a thing: not a nobody, but a body.”
Having started as a Mexican telenovela star, working with Weinstein represented a chance at a big break in the United States, she says, and to express herself as an artist in the daring ways she dreamed of.
She’d long identified with Frida Kahlo, and “it became my mission to portray the life of this extraordinary artist and to show my native Mexico in a way that combated stereotypes.”
But then the Weinstein reality hit. Hayek writes that at every opportunity, he tried to set her up for failure, constantly humiliating her during production, and disparaging her performance (which she later won an Oscar for). She remained defiant, insisting on staying true to Frida’s trademark unibrow. But, “he told me that the only thing I had going for me was my sex appeal,” and, because she wouldn’t comply to making the film “sexier,” that he wanted to shut down the film, “because no one would want to see me in that role.”
Still, Hayek persisted. Every other hurdle he put in her way as both an actress and producer on the film backfired. Except, that is, for one. She says Weinstein made it clear that he would only allow her to finish the movie if she agreed to full-frontal nudity in a sex scene with another woman.
Hayek’s description of that day on set is horrifying:
“My body began to shake uncontrollably, my breath was short and I began to cry and cry, unable to stop, as if I were throwing up tears,” she wrote. “My mind understood that I had to do it, but my body wouldn’t stop crying and convulsing. At that point, I started throwing up while a set frozen still waited to shoot. I had to take a tranquilizer, which eventually stopped the crying but made the vomiting worse. As you can imagine, this was not sexy, but it was the only way I could get through the scene.”
Hayek sharing her story marks yet another woman who bravely has come forward and shared the truth about their own experiences dealing with abusive behavior.
Read Hayek’s full account over at The New York Times.
UPDATE: Dec. 13, 2017, 8:24 p.m. PT
Harvey Weinstein responded through a spokesperson to Salma Hayek’s allegations, saying “All of the sexual allegations as portrayed by Salma are not accurate and others who witnessed the events have a different account of what transpired.”
Here’s the full statement.