Quentin Tarantino Says He ‘Knew Enough to Do More’ About Harvey Weinstein
Less than a week after Quentin Tarantino released a statement through friend and actor Amber Tamblyn, the filmmaker has finally opened up about Harvey Weinstein. Tarantino’s professional relationship with the former studio executive dates back 25 years to Reservoir Dogs; over the years, it’s transcended business and become personal, as well. And yet, despite knowing about some of the sexual assault and harassment allegations, Tarantino admits that he did nothing.
“Anything I say now will sound like a crappy excuse,” Tarantino says in a new interview with The New York Times — his first on the record about the extensive allegations of sexual harassment, assault and rape against his friend and longtime film distributor Harvey Weinstein. Tarantino freely admits that he knew at least a few of the stories about Weinstein’s predatory behavior for decades.
The director says his former girlfriend, actress Mira Sorvino, told him about her encounters with Weinstein in the ’90s — allegations she recently made public in The New Yorker, which published one of two bombshell Weinstein exposés (the Times published the other). Tarantino says he rationalized Sorvino’s story thusly:
I was shocked and appalled” back then, Mr. Tarantino said. “I couldn’t believe he would do that so openly. I was like: ‘Really? Really?’ But the thing I thought then, at the time, was that he was particularly hung up on Mira.” She had won accolades for her performance in “Mighty Aphrodite,” and “I thought Harvey was hung up on her in this Svengali kind of way,” Mr. Tarantino said. “Because he was infatuated with her, he horribly crossed the line.”
He adds that once he began dating Sorvino, he assumed the situation was resolved. “He won’t mess with her, he knows that she’s my girlfriend,” says Tarantino, describing his mindset at the time.
But there were others. Tarantino says another actress friend told him “a troubling story of unwanted advances,” for which Weinstein later offered a “weak apology.” (The Times verified the story with the actress, who asked to remain anonymous.) The filmmaker was also aware that Rose McGowan reached a settlement with Weinstein regarding an incident at the Sundance film festival; in a recent tweet, McGowan revealed that Weinstein raped her.
“What I did was marginalize the incidents,” Tarantino says, expressing regret over his passivity:
I knew enough to do more than I did. There was more to it than just the normal rumors, the normal gossip. It wasn’t secondhand. I knew he did a couple of these things. I wish I had taken responsibility for what I heard. If I had done the work I should have done then, I would have had to not work with him.
The Weinstein Co. (and previously Miramax) distributed almost every Tarantino film, from his 1992 breakthrough feature to The Hateful Eight. If Tarantino knew about at least a few of these incidents, he says, then “Everyone who was close to Harvey had heard of at least one of those incidents. It was impossible they didn’t.”
Yet, when several high profile actors and filmmakers who have worked with Weinstein (some more than others) over the last few decades spoke out to condemn the former executive, they simultaneously expressed shock and bafflement at the allegations. Tarantino is not the only filmmaker to concede that he knew about Weinstein’s predatory behavior. Screenwriter Scott Rosenberg, whose credits include Beautiful Girls and Con Air, recently posted a prose-fueled essay in which he repeatedly asserts, “Everybody f—king knew.”
Speaking of Hollywood’s gender disparity in the past-tense, Tarantino says, “We allowed it to exist because that’s the way it was.” And: “What was previously accepted is now untenable to anyone of a certain consciousness,” he reiterated. The filmmaker also called on other men in Hollywood to be honest about their knowledge of Weinstein’s history of sexual harassment and assault:
I’m calling on the other guys who knew more to not be scared. Don’t just give out statements. Acknowledge that there was something rotten in Denmark. Vow to do better by our sisters.
Despite the fact that he knew, despite the fact that he knew better, and despite the fact that he did nothing, Tarantino does have a point: If the actors and filmmakers — particularly the men — who have denounced Weinstein are actually feigning their ignorance to his crimes, then how can we hope to make any genuine progress? How can we build any trust without accountability?