×

Actress Connie Nielsen on Her Harvey Story and Debunking the Myth of ‘That Girl’ (Guest Column)

As I add my name to the rapidly expanding list of women whom Harvey Weinstein has harassed, I feel a strong wish to clarify just how well-known Harvey’s actions were in our community throughout his reign as one of the most powerful players in the industry. I worked on the Harvey Weinstein-produced “The Great Raid,” where I warned a young co-star not to take Harvey up on his invitations to drinks unless the whole group was there. I had no issues on the film, nor when I met Harvey at social events around the world.

It was therefore a real shock when Harvey proceeded to put his hand on my thigh at dinner during the opening night of “Great Raid,” at which both my boyfriend and my brother were present. I grabbed his hand and squeezed it violently to hurt him and proceeded to hold it in place on his own thigh. I steered clear of him as soon as I could for the rest of the evening but soon forgot about it, until the New York Times and New Yorker pieces set off a landslide.

In the accounts I have read of Harvey’s harassment, many state they weren’t “that girl,” meaning, I presume, that they were not the kind of woman who would base her career on sexual favors. I may be naive, but it seems to me that no woman sets out to base her career on sexual favors. I cannot think of a single famous female actor who isn’t also talented, and I doubt a statistically relevant quantity of actresses exists who look to skip the work with a sexual shortcut.

The oft-mentioned “casting couch” is a term that both denigrates female actors by association and intimates their complicity in a bargain. The term glosses over the fact that propositioning someone for sex in exchange for work is sexual harassment, a crime in every state of the union. It has been mentioned many times that Harvey often bragged of the many beautiful actresses he made that “bargain” with, though of course it was no “bargain” — it was alleged rape and sexual coercion. Like other predators, Harvey is imbued with a strong dose of charisma and a hint of not so hidden vulnerability. Like them, Harvey could suss out vulnerability in his victims — the young, those whose jobs and careers were put on the line or those whose circumstances had made them vulnerable.

I doubt “that girl” is an actual norm, and as the recent revolution against Harvey’s regime of intimidation and harassment indicates, “that girl” is simply someone who gave in to coercion and harassment and is therefore the victim of a crime. “That girl” was vulnerable to manipulation, coercion or physical violence she should have never been exposed to in the first place — and she should not be shamed for that. No one knows how they would act were they equipped with different childhoods, traumas and levels of resilience. As long as we suspect female actors of being somehow complicit in their own victimization, as willing participants in their own humiliation, we shame the victim and enable the culture of silence that allows predators to act with impunity.

It is an issue that there is no overseeing body in our industry where one can lodge a complaint. Our industry is made up of so many separate entities and participants, it seems we might benefit from creating a harassment ombudsman in each union, or one for the whole industry. It is frustrating that with so much research clearly pointing to the very real financial successes of gender-integrated boards and senior management, so few still make it a point to look at integrating their own. Several commentators have pointed out the issue of the all-male board of The Weinstein Co., and that its gender imbalance may have had something to do with its reluctance to deal with the many payouts and failure to protect the company from danger. Perhaps now people in the position to create change will be willing to recognize that progressive company policies not only create sturdier results but safeguard the dignity of all our colleagues.

More Biz

  • Discovery CEO David Zaslav Sees 2018

    Discovery CEO David Zaslav Sees 2018 Compensation Soar to $129.4 Million

    Discovery Inc. president-CEO David Zaslav is once again making headlines for an enormous compensation package. Zaslav’s 2018 compensation soared to $129.44 million in 2018, fueled by stock options and grants awarded as the longtime Discovery chief signed a new employment contract last July that takes him through 2023 at the cable programming group. Zaslav received [...]

  • Jonathan Lamy RIAA

    Jonathan Lamy Stepping Down From RIAA

    Jonathan Lamy, the Recording Industry Association of America’s longtime executive VP of communications and marketing, is stepping down from his post after 17 years, he announced today. As he put it in an email to Variety, “I started back in 2002, which means it’s been 17+ years, four different RIAA CEOs, three format changes and [...]

  • Fox Layoffs

    Disney-21st Fox Layoffs: TV Divisions Brace for Deep Cuts

    A second day of layoffs has begun on the Fox lot in the wake of Disney completing its acquisition of 21st Century Fox on Wednesday. Longtime 20th Century Fox Television Distribution president Mark Kaner is among the senior executives who were formally notified with severance details on Friday morning. 21st Century Fox’s international TV sales [...]

  • anthony pellicano

    Hollywood Fixer Anthony Pellicano Released From Federal Prison

    Anthony Pellicano, the Hollywood private eye whose wiretapping case riveted the industry a decade ago, was released from a federal prison on Friday, a prison spokeswoman confirmed. Pellicano was sentenced in 2008 to 15 years, following his conviction on 78 charges of wiretapping, racketeering, conspiracy and wire fraud. He had been in custody since 2003, [...]

  • This image taken from the Twitter

    HBO’s Reaction to Trump’s ‘Game of Thrones’ Campaign

    Everyone wants a piece of the “Game of Thrones” lemon cake. From Bud Light to Red Bull the world of Westeros is open to a lot of brand partnerships, unless you’re using that iconic typeface to push a political agenda. In November of 2018 President Donald Trump unveiled a “Thrones” inspired poster with the words [...]

  • Leaving Neverland HBO

    'Leaving Neverland' Lawsuit Proves to Be a Judicial Hot Potato

    The Michael Jackson estate sued HBO last month for airing the documentary “Leaving Neverland,” which accuses the late King of Pop of serial child sexual abuse. Since then, the case has had a difficult time finding a judge to handle it. Three federal judges have recused themselves in the last week, citing potential financial conflicts [...]

  • Members of the public mourn at

    Guy Oseary’s New Zealand Fundraiser Nears $150,000, Continues Raising Money

    In the wake of the horrific shootings at New Zealand mosques last week that killed some 49 people, Maverick chief Guy Oseary launched a GoFundMe campaign to “support those affected by this tragedy at this very difficult time,” and began it with an $18,000 donation. Boosted by donations from many celebrities — including Amy Schumer, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content