Actress Salma Hayek has spoken out about her torturous relationship with disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein, who she claims was frequently sexually aggressive with her and made her working life miserable even as he presented himself one of her biggest professional advocates.
In a first-person piece for the New York Times, Hayek writes of the terror she endured during her working relationship Weinstein, who then helmed Miramax Films, which culminated in a nervous breakdown on the set of the movie Frida.
When she first joined forces with Weinstein, Hayek said it was under the terms of a development deal with paid her the industry minimum as an actor and would not pay for her role as a producer of the films she had brought to Weinstein. The deal would help her realize her dream of bringing the story of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo to the big screen, which one of her most important professional goals.
“I did not care about the money; I was so excited to work with him and that company. In my naïveté, I thought my dream had come true. He had validated the last 14 years of my life. He had taken a chance on me — a nobody. He had said yes.”
But soon Hayek would learn that Weinstein’s yes came with an expectation that she would be agreeable to all his demands.
“Little did I know it would become my turn to say no.
No to opening the door to him at all hours of the night, hotel after hotel, location after location, where he would show up unexpectedly, including one location where I was doing a movie he wasn’t even involved with.
No to me taking a shower with him.
No to letting him watch me take a shower.
No to letting him give me a massage.
No to letting a naked friend of his give me a massage.
No to letting him give me oral sex.
No to my getting naked with another woman.
No, no, no, no, no …
And with every refusal came Harvey’s Machiavellian rage.”
Hayek claimed that Harvey would take out his personal frustrations with her on the movie Frida, threatening to shut down production if Hayak did not agree to play up her sex appeal for the role, which he said was the only thing she had going for her.
And one point, Weinstein’s rage reached such a boiling point that he threatened Hayek’s life:
“I will kill you, don’t think I can’t,” Weinstein allegedly said.
In order to keep her passion project afloat, Hayek said she met Weinstein’s litany of unreasonable demands as a producer, and eventually agreed to do a woman-on-woman sex scene at his insistence, though she felt it had no place in the story. On the day she was to film the scene, Hayak says she became overwhelmed by the cumulative pressure.
“I arrived on the set the day we were to shoot the scene that I believed would save the movie. And for the first and last time in my career, I had a nervous breakdown: 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,” Hayek wrote.
“Since those around me had no knowledge of my history of Harvey, they were very surprised by my struggle that morning,” she continued.
“”It was not because I would be naked with another woman. It was because I would be naked with her for Harvey Weinstein.”
According to Hayek’s account, Weinstein seemed to want to hinder the success of Frida ever step of the way, even though it would hurt him professionally as well. At one point, Hayek said Weinstein insisted on skipping a theatrical release altogether, but that she eventually changed his mind after a lot of negotiation and persuasion. In the end, Frida was nominated for multiple Academy Awards, and won two.
In her New York Times piece, Hayek blames the gender inequity in the film business for inviting the kind of predatory abuse she allegedly endured while she worked with Weinstein.
“Until there is equality in our industry, with men and women having the same value in every aspect of it, our community will continue to be a fertile ground for predators,” Hayek wrote.
[Feature image: Associated Press]