Gwyneth Paltrow Claims She Was Sexually Harassed by Harvey Weinstein at Age 22: "I Was Expected to Keep the Secret"

The actress recalls feeling "petrified" during a meeting at the producer's hotel room in the '90s

By Zach Johnson Oct 10, 2017 5:55 PMTags

Harvey Weinstein helped make Gwyneth Paltrow a star—but at what cost?

In an interview with The New York Times published Tuesday, Paltrow added her name to the growing list of actresses who have accused the producer of sexual misconduct over the course of several decades. When Paltrow was 22 years old, Weinstein hired her for the lead role in the Jane Austen adaptation Emma. Before production began, she said, he invited her to his suite at the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel for what she believed was a work meeting. She didn't foresee any problems, because it was "on the fax" from Creative Artists Agency, which represented her.

The meeting ended with Weinstein placing his hands on Paltrow and suggesting they go to his room to get massages, she claimed. "I was a kid," the 45-year-old said. "I was signed up. I was petrified."

Paltrow refused his advances, she added, and later confided in Brad Pitt, her boyfriend at the time. The actor eventually approached Weinstein at a movie premiere and told him to never touch her again; Pitt confirmed the account to The New York Times through his representative. In response, she said the movie mogul warned her not to tell anyone else about their hotel meeting.

"I thought he was going to fire me," she said.

A source confirms Paltrow and Pitt's story to E! News, saying, "Brad strongly confronted Harvey and told him repeatedly that it had better never happen again."

Stars Who Have Spoken Out Against Harvey Weinstein Amid His Sexual Harassment Allegations
BEI/REX/Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

The daughter of a famous and influential producer, she was especially stunned. And as she drove away from the hotel, she remembered thinking, "I thought you were my Uncle Harvey."

Paltrow later told her agent about the incident, as well as family members and a few friends. Doing so only made Weinstein even angrier, she claimed. "He screamed at me for a long time," Paltrow said, adding that she once again feared losing the leading role in Emma. "It was brutal."

The actress went on to make Shakespeare in Love with Weinstein, winning an Academy Award. At the time, she added, few knew of his advances. "I was expected to keep the secret," she said.

For example, when Weinstein's Talk magazine launched in 1999, she was asked to pose in an S&M-inspired photo shoot—a concept she wasn't comfortable with. "There were certain favors that he asked me to do that I felt were not exploitive but not necessarily as great for me as they were for him," she admitted to New York in 2001. "I brought this to his attention, and he said, 'I will never do that again.' And he's been true to his word." At the time she defended Weinstein's reputation, saying, "I think that for every bad story you hear about Harvey, there are three great ones. People are complicated, and nobody's all good or all bad. And I think Harvey is a prime example of somebody who has a temper and is also incredibly loving...He's a human being, and all of his acts can be just sort of magnified. He's larger-than-life in every way, so his good qualities are maybe more pronounced—as are some of his bad qualities." Whether her quotes for the New York profile on Weinstein was an attempt to "keep the secret" is unknown.

As others come forward, Paltrow told The New York Times, "We're at a point in time when women need to send a clear message that this is over. This way of treating women ends now."

E! News has reached out to reps for Pitt and Weinstein for further comment.

Paltrow is not commenting further, her rep said.