It’s been a year filled with tragedy and scandal for actress and director Asia Argento, 42.
The Italian actress and daughter of filmmaker Dario Argento first made headlines in October 2017 when she accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct and shortly after became a leader in the #MeToo movement attending rallies and speaking out about Weinstein at the Cannes Film Festival. In June, her boyfriend chef Anthony Bourdain was found dead by suicide. “He was my love, my rock, my protector,” she said at the time of his death. Then on Sunday, Argento found herself once again in the spotlight after a New York Times’s story stated she had made a financial settlement with actor Jimmy Bennett, 22, after he accused her of sexual assault following an incident that took place four years earlier when he was just 17 and she was 37. She has since denied the claim saying, “I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett.”
Read on for a timeline of how the star of XXX and The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things became one of the most talked-about figures of the #metoo movement and beyond.
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She was one of the first accusers of Harvey Weinstein.
The first New York Times story that outlined several sexual assault and harassment allegations against Weinstein, 66, was published on October 5, 2017, and Ronan Farrow’s feature in The New Yorker followed three weeks later. In it, Argento accused Weinstein of forcibly performing oral sex on her. She told Farrow it started when she was brought to Weinstein’s room by another producer and was left alone with him. Allegedly, Weinstein left briefly and returned wearing only a robe and demanded a massage from Argento. She says she agreed reluctantly and then he forced her legs apart. “It wouldn’t stop. It was a nightmare,” she said. “I was not willing … I said, ‘No, no, no.’ … It’s twisted.” Weinstein refuted her claims after the allegations were made public with his representative at the time saying, “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein.” The producer’s spokesperson further claimed, “with respect to any women who have made allegations on the record, Mr. Weinstein believes that all of these relationships were consensual.”
She became a leader of the #metoo movement.
In the same New Yorker exposé, Argento addressed head on the complexities of her relationship with Weinstein, discussing their consensual sexual relationship in the years after the alleged assault. Since then, she’s also relentlessly reminded the public of his role and that of the overall Hollywood community in hurting women. Most notably, she spoke at the Cannes Film Festival in 2018 and called it Weinstein’s “hunting ground,” according to NBC News. She also befriended other women leading the #metoo movement, including actresses Rose McGowan and Annabella Sciorra. Weinstein’s attorney Benjamin Braffman told PEOPLE in a statement Monday the “development reveals a stunning level of hypocrisy by Asia Argento, one of the most vocal catalysts who sought to destroy Harvey Weinstein.”
Her partner Anthony Bourdain was found dead by suicide.
The host of CNN’s Parts Unknown was found unresponsive in his hotel room in France on the morning of June 8 by close friend and French chef, Eric Ripert, according to CNN. They were filming an upcoming episode of Bourdain’s award-winning show. Bourdain was 61. Argento and Bourdain had been dating since January 2017.
She released a statement on Twitter that day, writing: “Anthony gave all of himself in everything that he did. His brilliant, fearless spirit touched and inspired so many, and his generosity knew no bounds. He was my love, my rock, my protector. I am beyond devastated. My thoughts are with his family. I would ask that you respect their privacy and mine.”
Details of their complicated relationship started emerging.
While Bourdain was incredibly vocal about his support of Argento’s role in the #metoo movement, those close to them actually had reservations about their connection. Bourdain was, for better or worse, “absolutely lovestruck,” a source told PEOPLE following his death. “He would have done anything for her, and that was a little red flag for some of his friends … He was crazy in love with her, crazy being the keyword.”
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Despite his tough guy exterior, Bourdain often gushed about Argento. “She’s a really accomplished director and writer along with being a longtime actress and a real sponge for culture, music, literature,” he told PEOPLE in 2017. And in February this year, he shared that he liked “being around her as much as possible” and that he “wouldn’t hate” moving in with her, though marriage was off the table as his divorce to estranged wife Ottavia Busia was not finalized.
The New York Times reports Argento paid off actor Jimmy Bennett, who accused her of sexual assault in 2013.
Published on Sunday, the story cites documents — sent to the paper anonymously and verified by the Times with three people familiar with the case — that show Argento reached a financial settlement with Jimmy Bennett, who played Argento’s son in 2004’s The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things. The settlement allegedly occurred just months after Argento first accused Weinstein. In the report, Bennett, now 22, claimed that in 2013, Argento, 37 at the time, sexually assaulted Bennett in a California hotel room two months after he turned 17. The age of consent in California is 18.
Argento denies the allegations
On Tuesday, Argento spoke out about the Times report and brought up that Bourdain had a role in the events. In a statement to journalist Yashar Ali, she wrote, “I strongly deny and oppose the contents of the New York Times article … I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett.”
She claims that she and Bennett were friends only until last fall when he “unexpectedly made an exorbitant request of money from” her. She then shared that Bourdain wanted to handle the request privately so they decided to deal with Bennett “compassionately” and help him. Argento concludes that the report is the “umpteenth development of a sequences of events … that constitutes longstanding persecution.”
Before dating Bourdain, Argento was married to director Michele Civetta. They have one child together, Nicola Giovanna, born in 2008. She also has another child, Anna Lou Castoldi, 17, with musician Marco Castoldi.