In case anyone was wondering where Brad Pitt's been this whole time—namely, the past three weeks—the actor has been located.
After spending last weekend at his beachfront ranch near Santa Barbara, he was photographed yesterday on the Los Angeles set of his next movie, the sci-fi space thriller Ad Astra. So for the most part he's just been...around. He and Angelina Jolie are now co-parenting their six kids within a few miles of each other in L.A., and his work schedule has allowed him to stay close to home.
There's nothing inherently unusual about any of this. Pitt's busy working and in normal times he isn't one of those stars who's photographed every day going to the gym or grabbing a coffee anyway.
But these aren't exactly normal times and Pitt, who a few months ago surprised and delighted with his frank talk about his split from Jolie and his personal demons, has gone silent.
In the meantime, Hollywood has been forced to face its own most pervasive, toxic demon head-on—the shamelessly shabby, often offensive, despicable and, in some cases, possibly criminal treatment of women in the entertainment industry.
Allegations against Harvey Weinstein—who has now been accused by almost 60 women of a litany of offenses, ranging from harassment and intimidation to rape—started piling up on Oct. 5, when the New York Times published a scathing investigative report quoting a number of women, among them Ashley Judd, about their alleged experiences with Weinstein. The report also alleged that the onetime titan of independent cinema had paid at least eight financial settlements—including $100,000 to Rose McGowan—to compensate for his bad behavior. An even more stomach-churning report from Ronan Farrow for the New Yorker followed on Oct. 10, in which three women, including Asia Argento, alleged Weinstein had forced himself on them. (Weinstein has threatened to sue the Times and he has denied all accounts of "non-consensual sex," as well as claims that he retaliated against women for rejecting his advances. After being fired from The Weinstein Company, he went to Arizona and as of last week was partaking in an outpatient treatment program. Police in New York, L.A. and London are now investigating some of the accusations against him to see if criminal charges are warranted.)
Also on Oct. 10, the New York Times published more disturbing accounts about past Weinstein behavior, from Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie.
Paltrow told the Times that, when she was 22 and had just been cast in Emma, she was invited to Weinstein's hotel room for a meeting, where he proceeded to ask her for a massage and try to get her to join him in the bedroom. She recalled feeling "petrified" and she got out of there, after which she told her boyfriend at the time, Brad Pitt.
As she told the paper, and as E! News also confirmed, Pitt soon after approached Weinstein at a theater premiere. "Brad strongly confronted Harvey and told him repeatedly that it had better never happen again," a source said.
Jolie said that Weinstein made similar unwanted advances at her in a hotel room when she was starring in Playing by Heart, which came out in 1998, when Jolie was also 22. "I had a bad experience with Harvey Weinstein in my youth," she told the Times in an email, "and as a result, chose never to work with him again and warn others when they did. This behavior towards women in any field, any country is unacceptable."
It's hard to blame Pitt, the topic being as incendiary as it is, for not wading into this, but his is a notable voice that's missing from the narrative.
Not because he did anything unusual by not publicly blowing the whistle on Weinstein, either 20 years ago or more recently, or by working with him—as a star of Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds or the 2012 indie Killing Them Softly, both distributed by the Weinstein Company—even though he knew what a creep Weinstein was.
After all, everyone knew it. Huge stars whose professional paths crossed with Weinstein, ranging from George Clooney and Meryl Streep to Olivia Wilde and Kate Winslet, insisted they didn't know how bad he allegedly was because they never witnessed it personally, but tales of his bombastic, bullying behavior were legendary all the same.
But Pitt had a closer brush with it than most. Even if for some reason Jolie, who became his partner in 2005 and his wife in 2014, never shared that particular anecdote with him, she's the mother of his children. And he knew about Paltrow. Hell, even Matt Damon knew about Paltrow, because she dated Ben Affleck after Pitt, and Affleck told him. Pitt apparently also told Peter Biskind, author of the definitive account of Miramax, Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance and the Rise of Independent Film, when the writer was profiling him for Vanity Fair. As it was off the record, Biskind recently told the Huffington Post, he did not take it to VF editor Graydon Carter to pursue further.
Pitt's silence may be at least partly circumstantial. If he had a movie to promote, as Damon and Clooney do at this moment with Suburbicon, then short of avoiding all press it's likely Pitt would have been compelled to talk about Weinstein as the others have been doing.
But Damon and Clooney also spoke out within days of the original allegations against Weinstein. Clooney took it upon himself as someone who had worked with Harvey to slam the alleged behavior as "indefensible." A journalist, meanwhile, had implied that Damon was complicit a decade ago in helping Weinstein quash a story about a former Miramax executive in Italy who didn't seem to be serving any other function than to facilitate Weinstein's assignations with women.
Damon recalled vouching for the executive because he knew him as a good guy, but he said he didn't know what the greater purpose of the article was and he certainly wasn't trying to put a stop to any story. "If there was ever an event that I was at and Harvey was doing this kind of thing and I didn't see it, then I am so deeply sorry, because I would have stopped it," he told Deadline.
With all the not-knowing going on, as well as the compartmentalizing, willful ignoring, eye-averting and other methods of inaction that contributed to the environment that allowed Weinstein to run amok unchecked, minus a handful of alleged payouts, Quentin Tarantino—whose professional relationship with Weinstein goes back 25 years, to his first movie, Reservoir Dogs—has provided the closest we've yet seen to an actual admittance of knowing way too much and doing nothing.
"I knew enough to do more than I did," the filmmaker told the New York Times on Oct. 19. "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."
Basically, that was the rub for everybody. Enough people publicly talked or joked about Weinstein's reputation for it to be one of those so-called "open secrets," but it wasn't the Clooneys and Streeps and Tarantinos and Damons and Pitts of the world. So long as business as usual was carrying on, so would Weinstein.
"I was expected to keep the secret," Paltrow told the Times.
By being involved in Weinstein Company projects, Pitt didn't do anything that Paltrow, who went on to win an Oscar for Shakespeare in Love in 1999 and star in Proof in 2005 (both Miramax productions), didn't do. Ashley Judd also says that she worked with Weinstein on two other occasions without incident after he allegedly harassed her 20 years ago. Mira Sorvino, who told Farrow that Harvey aggressively came on to her in 1995, said that she still maintained professional contact with him for years afterward, and she remained close friends with his brother, Bob Weinstein, to this day. (Bob, who called his brother "depraved" in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, has insisted that he and the Weinstein Co. board "did not know the extent" of Harvey's actions.) Tarantino told the Times that Sorvino had told him about Weinstein's unwanted advances and attempts to touch her back when they were dating.
Weinstein simply remained too central to the Hollywood power structure for most people to avoid falling back into his orbit time and again.
"Brad wants to do Inglourious II. We all want to do it," Weinstein told GQ in 2009, trying to dispel rumors of discord on the production, namely that he wanted Tarantino to cut 40 minutes from the finished film. "And the movie hasn't even come out yet! But unfortunately I cannot give away the plot. Unless you turned into Jacqueline Bisset when she was 27 years old. Under those circumstances, I would give it away."
The clamor for Pitt to speak up has died down since a few weeks ago, when statements were pouring forth at a rapid clip. At this point, as Weinstein accusers pile up and more and more women in Hollywood and beyond are coming forward to share their own experiences, and as the topic of sexual harassment is finally being discussed at length and in boardrooms all over the country, the story has become momentously bigger.
Now it's just sort of weird-in-passing that Pitt never offered his take on events or his own condemnation of Weinstein. He didn't know the man well. Weinstein took personal interest in both Pitt films he distributed and he championed both of the actor's performances, bumping Killing Me Softly's release in 2012 in an attempt to nudge the actor into the Oscar conversation—but they didn't work expressly together.
But as Judd Apatow tweeted in response to the Weinstein harassment allegations: "Why should anyone be silent in their disgust and support for his victims?" And that was just a few days after the initial NY Times report was published, before the New Yorker report blew the lid off the pot that was starting to boil over. That lid has yet to hit the ground.
Matt Damon said that if he had seen something, he would have stopped it. Brad Pitt probably thought he was doing just that when he stuck up for Paltrow, nipping that sort of behavior toward her in the bud. He did the right thing. It was impossible to know then how many more women could've used someone to stick up for them too.