Big Little Lies actress Laura Dern says that sexual harassment seemed to be a "prerequisite" for working in Hollywood

By Lindsay Kimble
October 17, 2017 01:05 PM

Laura Dern says she started her career in Hollywood “with eyes wide open,” but still dealt with sexual harassment.

“I have not spoken to one person, nor will you tonight, who hasn’t had an experience with sexual harassment in the work place,” Dern told reporters on Elle‘s Women in Hollywood red carpet on Monday night. “It seemed as if it was supposed to be a prerequisite.”

Continued the actress, “I was one of the lucky few who was raised by an actress, I had a godmother who was an actress, and a father who was an actor. So I was told all the stories, so I knew with eyes wide open what should be unacceptable. And it was still terrifying and I still got bullied and still experienced trauma.”

Dern — whose father is Bruce Dern and mother is Diane Ladd —said that if her experience was “the best version,” then “there’s a lot of work to do.”

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for ELLE

The actress is one of thousands of women to speak out about their experiences with sexual misconduct in the wake of the scandal surrounding movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

Also on the red carpet at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills on Monday night, Dern’s Big Little Lies castmate Reese Witherspoon revealed that she was sexually assaulted by a director at age 16.

“I wish that I could tell you that was an isolated incident in my career, but sadly it wasn’t,” said Witherspoon. “I’ve had multiple experiences of harassment and sexual assault and I don’t speak about them very often.”

She continued, “But after hearing all the stories these past few days and hearing these brave women speak up tonight about things that we’re kind of told to sweep under the rug and not to talk about, it’s made me want to speak up and speak up loudly because I actually felt less alone this week than I have ever felt in my entire career.”

Both Dern’s and Witherspoon’s comments come after dozens of women came forward in recent weeks to accuse Weinstein of sexual misconduct — including Cara Delevingne, Ashley Judd, and Angelina Jolie. Eight women spoke out against Weinstein in a bombshell New York Times report accusing the movie mogul of inappropriate behavior. The paper also reported that Weinstein reached private settlements with eight women, including actress Rose McGowan.

Harvey Weinstein
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Following the initial report, Weinstein said in a statement that he was working with therapists and planned to “deal with this issue head-on.” He has since been fired from his powerhouse studio, The Weinstein Company, and his wife, Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman, has announced she’s leaving him.

In addition, the The New Yorker revealed — among 13 different women’s accounts of alleged sexual harassment, assault or rape — that Weinstein allegedly forcibly performed oral sex on Italian actress Asia Argento two decades ago.

In response to the lengthy accusations made against the mogul, a spokesperson for Weinstein said, “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein.”