There’s rich irony that Untouchable, a documentary on the rise and fall of Harvey Weinstein, made its world premiere at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. For decades, the movie mogul cut an imposing figure in the mountain resort town of Park City, Utah, often throwing around big money to acquire future indie classics such as Reservoir Dogs, Clerks and Blue Valentine.
But in October 2017, reporters at The New York Times and The New Yorker both published hard-hitting exposés that detailed Weinstein’s secret life as an alleged sexual predator. Nearly 100 women — from Gwyneth Paltrow to Salma Hayek — have since come forward with their stories of how the burly, brash and bullying co-head of The Weinstein Company (and formerly of Miramax) reportedly engaged in inappropriate behavior against their will. (Weinstein, 66, is currently awaiting trial).
Though Untouchable didn’t reveal any jaw-droppers compared to the similarly themed Michael Jackson documentary Leaving Neverland (that premiered at Sundance earlier in the day), the absorbing film still evoked uneasy murmurs throughout the screening. Here are five shockers:
1. He Assaulted His Own Staffers — And His Execs Knew About It
Several former Miramax production heads talk on the record about their boss’ off-the-clock behavior. Former London-based executive Zelda Perkins recalls the time that Weinstein allegedly assaulted one of her young staffers at the Venice Film Festival in 1998. The woman filed a lawsuit, which Weinstein eventually settled. In the film, Perkins plays a series of old answering machine messages in which Weinstein begs her to meet and pleads, “Please call me,” and, “I hope to work everything out.” Meanwhile, in Miramax’ NYC headquarters, an assistant once abruptly quit after Weinstein behaved inappropriately. It was an open secret among the office, per staffers. In fact, the assistant was a friend of one of Weinstein’s top lieutenants at Miramax — and the exec continued to work there despite reportedly knowing what happened.
2. He Was So Powerful That Even the Media Feared Him
Remember the 2001 Julia Stiles and Josh Hartnett movie O? Weinstein delayed its release for political reasons: He was a big donor to Al Gore’s presidential campaign in 2000, and the then-Democratic candidate advocated against violence in the media. Weinstein was worried that the drama’s graphic sexual assault would make him look like a hypocrite. Journalist Rebecca Traister tried to ask him about this during a party he hosted in an NYC hotel, but Weinstein allegedly turned angry and called her a vulgar, defamatory word. He then reportedly physically assaulted her journalist boyfriend, Andrew Goldman, putting him in a headlock outside the hotel. Dozens of paparazzi photographed the assault, but no snapshots have ever turned up because of the repercussions. And though Weinstein can be heard on tape saying, “I’m glad I’m the f–king sheriff of this s—t ass f–king town,” even Traister’s editor at the New York Observer refused to run the story. At the time, Weinstein might as well have been the sheriff.
3. He Liked to Use His Wife and Kids as a Defense
Miramax and Weinstein company staffers say that they knew that Weinstein regularly cheated on his wives. (He was married to assistant Eve Chilton from 1987 to 2004 and Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman from 2007 to 2017; he has five children between the two women). But they thought the encounters were consensual because of his responses. Perkins says Weinstein often used the phrase, “I swear on my wife and kids’ lives,” when denying any wrongdoing. “It was his get-out-of-jail-free card,” she admits. Years later, when the FBI recorded Weinstein demanding that model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez go into this hotel room during a sting operation, he can be heard swearing on his kids’ lives that he won’t do anything to her — even though he cops to groping her earlier.
4. Weinstein Hired Private Investigators to Dig Up Dirt on His Victims
Ronan Farrow says that when he was reporting on his story for The New Yorker in 2017, he learned that Weinstein had contracted Black Cube, a private intelligence firm also used by the Mossad in Israel. One investigator, speaking anonymously with his voice distorted on camera, reveals that he was given a list of Weinstein-approved targets that he aimed to spy on and subsequently discredit. The contractors also dug up photographic evidence of Weinstein and his victims looking chummy post-assaults in hopes of proving his innocence. On the typed list: Pulp Fiction actress Rosanna Arquette.
5. His Victims Are Still Afraid of Retaliation
While Untouchable features several actresses bravely detailing their scarring experiences with Weinstein, the most recognizable faces are Arquette and Boardwalk Empire actress Paz de la Huerta. (The latter sued Weinstein in 2018, alleging that he raped her twice in 2010). Where are the likes of women such as Ashley Judd, Mira Sorvino and Annabella Sciorra? During the post-screening Q&A, Arquette admitted — without naming names — that many actresses remain hesitant about going public on camera and talking explicitly about their sexual assaults for fear of “retaliation.” Arquette added under her breath that she still can’t land an agent.
Untouchable, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, is scheduled for release later in 2019.
For access to all our exclusive celebrity videos and interviews – Subscribe on YouTube!