Jennifer Lawrence Says Harvey Weinstein Was 'Paternal' to Her: 'I Didn't Know He Was a Rapist'
“Just speaking for myself, I had known him since I was 20, and he had only ever been nice to me — except for the moments that he wasn’t, and then I called him an a-hole, and we moved on,” she told Oprah Winfrey in a new interview for The Hollywood Reporter. “He was paternal to me. So I needed a moment to process everything because I thought I knew this guy, and then he’s being accused of rape. We all knew he was a dog, we knew that he was a … tough guy, a brute, a tough guy to negotiate with.”
The Oscar winner added, “I didn’t know that he was a rapist. And it’s so widespread, the abuse, from so many different people — it’s directors, it’s producers — that I think everybody needed to [process it]. Everybody needs to deal with this in their own way; everybody needs to heal.”
Lawrence, who won an Oscar for the Weinstein-produced Silver Linings Playbook, initially said she was “deeply disturbed” to hear of the allegations against the Hollywood mogul in a statement to PEOPLE.
“I worked with Harvey five years ago and I did not experience any form of harassment personally, nor did I know about any of these allegations,” she said at the time. “This kind of abuse is inexcusable and absolutely upsetting.”
She continued: “My heart goes out to all of the women affected by these gross actions. And I want to thank them for their bravery to come forward.”
After The New York Times and The New Yorker published articles detailing decades of Weinstein’s alleged abuses in October, Lawrence, 27, says she and other actors were pressured to speak out.
“There was this moment when all of this broke out and everybody was silent, and then all of a sudden, every actress’ Twitter was blowing up with, ‘You need to come forward and you need to say something and you need to condemn!’ Which is true: We do have a responsibility to say something; we’ve all worked with him, but everybody needed a moment.”
Lawrence said hearing Weinstein pressure model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez into watching him shower on an audiotape recorded during a 2015 sting operation by the N.Y.P.D. was especially upsetting.
“They are all horrible, and not one is more horrifying than the next. But being able to hear when the woman wore the microphone and Harvey was telling her to watch him shower — I felt sick in my bones for an entire day,” she said. “I was just sick. I was just like, ‘I can’t,’ after hearing that … because he didn’t lay a finger on her, and I felt chilled to my bones. Imagine having a man who is that powerful telling you to do something [and] you’re saying no. [He’s] threatening you, saying, ‘Don’t embarrass me. We’re at this hotel.’ ”
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The Oscar-winning producer has been accused of sexual misconduct by over 50 women since The New York Times and The New Yorker stories were published in October.
In a statement to PEOPLE, Weinstein’s attorneys, Berk and Brafman, said: “Mr. Weinstein has never at any time committed an act of sexual assault, and it is wrong and irresponsible to conflate claims of impolitic behavior or consensual sexual contact later regretted, with an untrue claim of criminal conduct. There is a wide canyon between mere allegation and truth, and we are confident that any sober calculation of the facts will prove no legal wrongdoing occurred.”
Lawrence has previously spoken out about her own experience with inappropriate behavior on a film set, revealing she was once asked to lose 15 pounds for a role and was subjected to a “naked lineup” with other actresses to have her body critique.
“On that movie, I called my agent, and I called everybody. It’s like, there’s not really anything anybody can do because the behavior is so normalized, and then you become more powerful, and people start f—king with you less,” she said.
“How can there be rules in place where there are certain ways that you just cannot treat people? Or a commission, somebody that they can call? If every A-list actor decides to join this commission, we know everybody in the industry. I know every studio head in town. If I’m on this commission, and [if] I get an email about somebody being treated badly on a set, I can send an email,” she added.
“We have to all put our heads together and figure out how to not let this moment go, not just be like, ‘Oh, well, that was crazy.’ Something has to really get done.”