Weinstein “has never done anything in his life that was consensual," a source tells PEOPLE in this week's cover story

By Mike Miller
October 18, 2017 12:40 PM

Harvey Weinstein stands accused — by more than 40 women — of being a predator in private. He was also a notorious bully in public.

Weinstein “has never done anything in his life that was consensual. He makes people do things. He assaults people in every way,” a source who worked with him for years tells PEOPLE of Weinstein’s abusive behavior in the magazine’s new cover story.

At work, says another longtime colleague, “it was human harassment at every level. Mass intimidation, constant threats — to men and women — about losing your job. It was mocking people about their physicality, about their age. One of his favorite lines was, ‘I’ll fire you on the cover of Variety.’”

The movie executive behind Shakespeare in Love and The King’s Speech was fired from his own studio, the Weinstein Company, last week and resigned from the board on Tuesday. He has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex.

From the movie industry to the media and beyond, Weinstein’s reputation for bullying was epic — but he “was romanticized as an old-style movie mogul,” says New York magazine writer-at-large Rebecca Traister. “That was seen as a good thing.”

She experienced his temper firsthand at a 2000 book party, when, she says, she asked Weinstein a probing question about the marketing of a movie and he exploded, calling her a “c—,” dragging her then-boyfriend Andrew Goldman onto the street in a headlock and yelling, “I’m the f———g mayor of this f———g lawless piece of sh— town!”

Another former coworker, a female producer, says, “everyone in the industry knew” Weinstein, 65, pursued young women, “just as everyone who came in contact with him knew about his temper.”

Harvey Weinstein was one of Hollywood’s most feared producers. Now scores of women say he harassed and even assaulted them. Subscribe now for a look inside the mogul-sized scandal that took down a Hollywood predator — only in PEOPLE.

Yet stars continued to work for the producer, who also knew how to wield his temper in their favor. “He launched campaigns for you, not just for Oscar nominations, but he went out there and banged the drum for you on other films,” says the source.

As one of his longtime colleagues explains, “It’s easy to write off someone who’s ignorant, but when they’re well-read, charming and intellectual like Harvey, you make excuses somehow, because you’re in denial.”

RELATED: Breaking Down the Harvey Weinstein Sexual Assault & Harassment Scandal

That denial surrounded Weinstein for three decades — as even those who witnessed his tirades say they didn’t know about the alleged sexual assaults and misconduct.

“I don’t know why no one saw it, why we didn’t know. No one really wanted to think about what was happening behind closed doors,” says one of the sources who worked with him for years. “We were naive. We thought his abuse stopped in the office.”