The day after Harvey Weinstein’s Hong Kong fixer was exposed in a series of investigative reports by online magazine HK01, actress/producer Salma Hayek published an op-ed in The New York Times telling her Weinstein story, a reminder that these stories go much deeper than the initial headlines. Called “Harvey Weinstein Is My Monster Too,” Hayek’s op-ed details her abusive history with the disgraced former movie mogul, describing how sexual harassment gradually evolved into rage and even death threats after Hayek managed to dodge Weinstein’s initial advances.
Weinstein could transform from supportive to terrifying with little to no warning, Hayek says, saying that Weinstein offered her a development deal early in her career thanks to her friendship with Robert Rodriguez and his wife. (“Knowing what I know now, I wonder if it wasn’t my friendship with them—and Quentin Tarantino and George Clooney—that saved me from being raped,” she writes.) After the deal was struck, Weinstein began utilizing every technique in his now well-established sexual harassment playbook on Hayek: The showers, the massages, the late-night hotel room “meeting” requests, Weinstein showing up on the set of films Hayek was working on that he wasn’t even producing. She writes:
The range of his persuasion tactics went from sweet-talking me to that one time when, in an attack of fury, he said the terrifying words, “I will kill you, don’t think I can’t.”
Things came to a head on the set of Frida (2002), a passion project for Hayek that she was able to get made despite the many seemingly impossible barriers Weinstein put in front of her. “Ironically, once we started filming, the sexual harassment stopped but the rage escalated,” Hayek writes, saying that Weinstein went into a rage on the set over what he saw as Hayek’s lack of sex appeal in the movie. Then, as she puts it:
He offered me one option to continue. He would let me finish the film if I agreed to do a sex scene with another woman. And he demanded full-frontal nudity.
He had been constantly asking for more skin, for more sex. Once before, Julie Taymor got him to settle for a tango ending in a kiss instead of the lovemaking scene he wanted us to shoot between the character Tina Modotti, played by Ashley Judd, and Frida.
But this time, it was clear to me he would never let me finish this movie without him having his fantasy one way or another. There was no room for negotiation.
Hayek ended up doing the scene, a wrenching experience that had her crying uncontrollably and vomiting, “not because I would be naked with another woman. It was because I would be naked with her for Harvey Weinstein.” After it was finished, Weinstein told Hayek and director Julie Taymor that Frida was not good enough to screen in theaters, and would go direct to video. They fought that decree, and eventually won. The film went on to win two Academy Awards.