LOS ANGELES – Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow are the latest actresses to allege they were victims of sexual harassment at the hands of producer Harvey Weinstein.
Both said the incidents happened early in their careers.
They join a string of actresses accusing Weinstein of harassment. On Tuesday he also denied allegations of rape made in The New Yorker magazine.
Ex-President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle added their voice to growing demonstrations of public outrage.
A statement released by the Obamas says they “have been disgusted by the recent reports about Harvey Weinstein”. It adds they “celebrate the courage of women who have come forward”.
On Sunday the mogul’s Hollywood studio, the Weinstein Company, fired him over the allegations. On Tuesday Weinstein’s wife, designer Georgina Chapman, told People magazine she was leaving him.
“My heart breaks for all the women who have suffered tremendous pain because of these unforgivable actions,” the 41-year-old is quoted as saying. She and Weinstein, 65, have two children together.
Also on Tuesday, Paltrow and Jolie both sent statements to the New York Times, which first reported allegations against him last week.
Jolie said in an email: “I had a bad experience with Harvey Weinstein in my youth, and as a result, chose never to work with him again and warn others when they did.
“This behaviour towards women in any field, any country is unacceptable.”
In a statement, Paltrow alleged that, after Weinstein cast her in the leading role in Emma, he summoned her to his hotel suite, where he placed his hands on her and suggested massages in his bedroom.
“I was a kid, I was signed up, I was petrified,” she told the newspaper.
She said she told her then-boyfriend Brad Pitt about the incident, and said he confronted Weinstein.
“I thought he was going to fire me,” she said.
‘Relationships were consensual’
The separate New Yorker report says that 16 former and current employees at Weinstein’s companies told the magazine “they witnessed or had knowledge of unwanted sexual advances and touching at events associated with Weinstein’s films and in the workplace”.
The magazine quotes Italian actress and director Asia Argento and Lucia Stoller, now Lucia Evans – who says she was an aspiring actress when Weinstein allegedly approached her in 2004. Both say they were forced into sexual acts by the producer.
A third woman, who did not want to be named, said Weinstein had “forced himself on me sexually”.
Argento said she has not spoken until now because she feared it would ruin her career to do so.
“That’s why this story – in my case, it’s 20 years old, some of them are old – has never come out,” she told the New Yorker.
Other allegations in the piece came from Mira Sorvino, who won an Oscar in 1996 for her role in Mighty Aphrodite for Miramax, a studio headed by Weinstein at the time. She told the magazine that Weinstein had tried to pressure her into a relationship.
Roseanna Arquette also said that she rejected Weinstein’s advances and that she believes her acting career suffered as a result.
Weinstein’s spokeswoman Sallie Hofmeister issued a statement in response to the article.
“Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr Weinstein,” she said. “Mr Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances.
“Mr Weinstein obviously can’t speak to anonymous allegations, but with respect to any women who have made allegations on the record, Mr Weinstein believes that all of these relationships were consensual. Mr Weinstein has begun counselling, has listened to the community and is pursuing a better path.”
Hillary Clinton shared a statement saying that she was “shocked and appalled” by the revelations about Weinstein, who donated to her 2016 presidential campaign and has been a major donor to Mrs Clinton and Mr Obama’s Democratic party. -BBC