When Harvey Weinstein was exposed in October 2017, few people could have foreseen the effect that his unmasking would have on the world. In a scene reminiscent of a Scooby Doo episode, we can all picture the movie mogul croaking: “I would have got away with it too, if it wasn’t for you meddling kids,” referencing brave actresses such as Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd who came forward to reveal the ugly truth.
Since October, a plethora of other former Hollywood heroes have been accused of sexual harassment, from big screen veterans such as Kevin Spacey and Dustin Hoffman to rising-stars like Ed Westwick and James Franco. However, unlike any trend which came before it, the #MeToo movement shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, reporters are now so thirsty for a new shred of evidence against a Tinseltown name that they’re quizzing every actor and actress they come into contact with for details on their own personal experiences. From Sharon Stone’s recent interrogation, in which she laughed at the journalist for his naive assumption that because she hadn’t spoken out she wasn’t a victim, to the fresh story regarding comedian Aziz Ansari’s alleged misconduct. So when Variety sat down with Pirates of the Caribbean star and English Rose, Kiera Knightley, they couldn’t resist asking her to talk all things #MeToo. When asked for her thoughts on the scandal, the 32-year-old actress (one of the best paid in Hollywood) responded: “I was surprised by some of the specifics. But I was aware of the culture of silencing women and the culture of bullying them, and I knew that men in the industry were allowed to behave in very different ways than women. That was obvious.” However, the British actress was quick to clarify that she’d never been a victim of any sexual misconduct in Hollywood specifically, but she could resonate with the stories for she had been targetted in her personal life.
“I’m fortunate that I’ve never been sexually abused professionally or harassed on a film set, but in my personal life, when I’ve been in bars, I can count four times when I’ve been what I’d say was assaulted in a minor way. I think everyone has battled their fair share of monsters. It’s not just actresses. It’s teachers; it’s lawyers.”
“I’m not talking about rape, but I’m talking about the people who had been grabbed in pubs or their breasts had been fondled by somebody they didn’t know or they’d had someone shove a hand up their skirt.”
“For too long, you really did go, ‘Oh, this is just normal.’ It’s terrifying that was our response. It must have been awful for all of those brave women who have come forward and spoken publicly about their experiences.”
The Academy Award-nominated actress, who is best known for her portrayal of women in period dramas, such as Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, The Duchess and Anna Karenina, then went on to explain why she is no longer interested in doing modern day films because “the female characters nearly always get raped.”
“I don’t really do films set in the modern day because the female characters nearly always get raped. I always find something distasteful in the way women are portrayed, whereas I’ve always found very inspiring characters offered to me in historical pieces. There’s been some improvement. I’m suddenly being sent scripts with present-day women who aren’t raped in the first five pages and aren’t simply there to be the loving girlfriend or wife.” This is particularly poignant given that in Knightley’s latest film, Colette, she plays a woman who overcomes an abusive marriage to become an extremely successful writer – a film she claims was only given the green light due to the fact that “women’s stories are suddenly viewed as important.” As the #MeToo movement continues to march on, there is no doubt that we shall hear many more interesting viewpoints, such as that of Knightley, on Hollywood’s shortcomings. Although, hopefully, we shan’t hear that any more of the stars we have loved for decades are guilty of sexual harassment.
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