We’ve heard lots of stories over the past couple weeks from women Harvey Weinstein scared into silence.
But what would have happened if they fought back?
According to Robert Rodriguez, he did try to help Rose McGowan beat Harvey’s “blacklisting” of her — by casting her in his Weinstein Company-funded film Grindhouse.
In fact, in an official essay for Variety, he reveals the plot of his half of the throwback double feature with Quentin Tarantino was inspired by her story, something he could never talk about before:
“I have not previously discussed what I knew about the 1997 incident that Rose suffered in a hotel room during the Sundance Film Festival. I never wanted to do anything that jeopardized a legal settlement she entered into with Harvey Weinstein. Now that she’s able to tell her story, I want to provide an account of what I knew, when I knew it, and what I did about it.”
Rodriguez says he first learned of her “blacklisting” at Cannes in 2005, when she explained to him why she hadn’t auditioned for Sin City. She told him the whole story of the assault — and the subsequent legal action:
“Rose told me that all she could do at the time was to get Harvey Weinstein to donate money to an abused women’s shelter and in return she had to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that forbade her from talking about the horrific violation without being sued, and that she shouldn’t even be telling me. To add insult to injury, she told me that she was blacklisted from even auditioning for any Weinstein movies.”
That’s when the director got PISSED — and decided to go renegade:
“I then revealed to Rose right then and there that I was about to start writing a movie with Quentin Tarantino, a double feature throwback to 70’s exploitation movies, and that if she was interested, I would write her a BAD ASS character and make her one of the leads. I wanted her to have a starring role in a big movie to take her OFF the blacklist, and the best part is that we would have Harvey’s new Weinstein Company pay for the whole damn thing.”
But they got to throw it in Harvey’s face sooner than they were expecting:
“Just as I finished telling Rose this, I saw Harvey walking around the party! I called Harvey over to our table, and as soon as he got close enough to see that I was sitting with Rose, his face dropped and went ghostly white. I said, “Hey Harvey, this is Rose McGowan. I think she’s amazing and really talented and I’m going to cast her in my next movie.” Harvey then dribbled all over himself in the most over the top performance I’d ever seen as he gushed, “Oh she’s wonderful, oh she’s amazing, oh she’s fantastic, oh she’s so talented… You two should definitely work together.” And then he skittered off. I knew right then that every word Rose told me was true, you could see it all over his face.”
They made the film, a star-studded, strangely meta movie that played like two ’70s B movies, complete with fake trailers for other movies made by friends like Eli Roth and Edgar Wright.
It was crazy and long and ahead of its time — and Rose is spectacular in it.
Unfortunately it completely tanked at the box office.
Rodriguez still believes Harvey’s vendetta against Rose is what kept the movie from even being given a fighting chance with a proper ad campaign, etc. He explains:
“But because of the NDA Rose told me she had signed, at Rose’s request I had to keep it quiet from everyone until now as to why we were even making that film together, especially Harvey. We knew that strategically we couldn’t rub it in his face why we were REALLY doing this movie, because then he’d just bury the movie, not sell it well, and everyone would lose. To our horror, Harvey buried our movie anyway, and because we did not want to risk getting sued, we never spoke publicly about the matter…
I am still haunted and disillusioned that after all the good intentions, immense pain and struggle Rose and I and so many talented people went through to make the film, that Harvey Weinstein won in the end by burying the movie just because Rose was the lead actress.”
Robert wishes they could have spoken about the inspiration of the film, the fight behind the scenes before now. And he hopes this new conversation will change things in Hollywood and other businesses:
“It’s been really difficult to admit and come to terms that the NDA handcuffs forced us to needlessly jump through hoops that today would have been unnecessary because of Rose’s fearlessness to speak out, despite the consequences. I hope that new legislation will result in NDAs to be legally null and void in situations where rape and assault have been committed and where power is so unequally distributed.”
“Looking back over the years, I have wondered if I would have made the same choices, knowing the bleak outcome. We all suffered greatly on the film, and the journey ended up costing us all more than we ever bargained for. For me personally, it cost me my marriage of 16 years, my family, a large dose of sanity, and for years I have grappled with the sobering idea that maybe I made a grave error in standing up at all, when no one was even asking me to.”
OK, we have to stop right there — was it really the movie failing at the box office that cost you your marriage, Robert? Or did dating your star do it?
In case you didn’t know, Robert and Rose went public with their relationship when the movie came out — immediately after news of his split with his wife, Elizabeth Avellan, hit.
Not the point, we know, but gotta be honest here. Anyway, go on:
“I know that’s not the message I’d ever want to send out, but it’s been hard to justify something that now is clear was a lose/lose situation from the get-go, and that in the end failed and simply caused more damage. The reason I’m saying this is because it’s very clear to me now that when someone does what Harvey Weinstein did, the devastation goes far beyond predator and victim.
These past few weeks have given me new clarity and hope by seeing the tide finally turn, seeing Harvey finally on the run, and seeing all the brave women who have come forth with their own shocking and distressing stories of abuse. Since I’ve seen a distinct lack of stories coming from men who may have tried to do the right thing, I wanted to come forth to say that no matter the consequences, no matter how far you have to stick your neck out, no matter what you have to lose, that we must fight the good fight. Everyone has to make a stand and take action.”
Damn right they do!
Because two against the world isn’t enough. This fight needs to be ALL of us against them.
[Image via Z. Tomaszewski/Joseph Marzullo/WENN.]
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