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Emma Thompson says ‘Hollywood can and must change’ in Wake of Harvey Weinstein

UPDATED Oct. 13: Producer Stephen Woolley reacts to Thompson interview, talks about Weinstein

Emma Thompson has called on Hollywood to heed the lessons of the Harvey Weinstein saga and said many opportunities were missed to bring his actions to wider attention.

In a lengthy interview with BBC news program “Newsnight,” the British actor (“Nanny McPhee”) said the allegations against Weinstein did not come as a shock.

“I didn’t know about these things but they don’t surprise me at all and they are endemic to the system anyway,” she said. “What I find extraordinary is that this man is at the top of a very particular iceberg. He’s a Predator. What he is top of the ladder of, is a system of harassment and belittling and bullying and interference.”

She said she had angry run-ins with Weinstein when negotiating over “Nanny McPhee” rights, and applauded the women who have spoken out against the Hollywood producer. “There has been a conspiracy of silence and I think there will probably have been about a million and one missed opportunities to call this man out on his disgusting behavior.”

Thompson said Weinstein’s behavior went to the heart of gender issues in Hollywood. “In our system there are not nearly enough women, particularly in Hollywood, in positions in power. There aren’t enough women at the top of the tree in the studios who could, perhaps, balance everything out,” she said.

“Isn’t it the same story as Jimmy Savile,” she said, comparing the Weinstein situation with that of disgraced British entertainer Jimmy Savile, who died in 2011, and was accused of a string of sexual offences over many years.

The danger is that the industry does not heed lessons from recent events, Thompson told interviewer Emily Maitlis. “The most important thing is we can extrapolate from this event is what’s really going on, otherwise all that’s going to happen is everyone will say ‘hey do you remember Jimmy Savile, do you remember Harvey Weinstein?’ We have to get more women in the profession in positions of power.

“I do see and hear a lot of voices, and I do want add mine to theirs and say that Hollywood can and must change.”

“Emma is correct,” Stephen Woolley, who worked with Weinstein on films including “The Crying Game,” told BBC radio today, Friday. “The casting couch has always been a joke, that’s the problem. My producing partner end I, Elizbeth Karlsen, have known Harvey since the mid-80s and there were always rumors swirling around but they were turned in to a joke.

“What we need are for the agents, and the studios and other producers and other studios to stop turning it into a laughing [matter].”

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