Mira Sorvino on why Harvey Weinstein’s victims didn’t speak out earlier
LOS ANGELES—“Why didn’t everyone speak out earlier?” Mira Sorvino, one of many women who have accused producer Harvey Weinstein of varying degrees of sexual assault and harassment, said that’s the question people often asked her.
In our recent interview, Mira explained why. The 1996 Oscar and Golden Globe best supporting actress winner for Woody Allen’s “Mighty Aphrodite” is actively involved in the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements.
In December last year, Mira wrote an open letter, published by the Los Angeles Times, in which she publicly expressed her regret about working with Woody, who was accused by his estranged daughter, Dylan Farrow, of sexually abusing her when she was a child. Woody has denied the allegations.
Mira, who clarified that nothing inappropriate happened when she filmed “Mighty Aphrodite” with Woody, believes, however, that Dylan’s accusations against her dad are true.
Mira, herself the daughter of an actor (Paul Sorvino), stars in “Condor,” the TV series incarnation of James Grady’s 1974 thriller novel set in Washington DC, “Six Days of the Condor.” A film adaptation, “Three Days of the Condor,” starred Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway.
Excerpts from our interview:
You’ve been such an integral part of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements. What changes have you seen in your life and career as a result of your involvement? I shot “Condor” before the Ronan Farrow article (in the New Yorker magazine, where she shared her story of being sexually harassed by Harvey) came out. Things have been picking up before the Ronan stuff happened.
But I have to say when I spoke to Ronan, I did think that perhaps my career would disappear. Each one of us grappled with that choice to speak or not to speak because it seemed like there was a very high potential for backlash and blacklisting. We didn’t know that there were so many of us. We didn’t know that the situation was so rife, not only with Harvey Weinstein, not only throughout Hollywood, but really throughout other industries across this country and the globe. Not only for women but for men, LGBTQ people, nonbinary people and children.
If we can make a dent in some small way, and if we can ease the suffering of future generations and make it impossible for predators to do what they do and get away with it, with impunity, then this has all been worth it. All of the sturm und drang, the personal pain and fear of it.
If my kids’ generation will be less likely to fear sexual misconduct, rape or harassment in the workplace, and they can live freely, comfortably and be judged in a meritocracy rather than a system of barter for sexual favors.
Did you talk to Rosanna Arquette and Ashley Judd, who also accused Harvey of sexually harassing them? I’ve talked with Ashley many times this year. I’ve talked with Rosanna. I’ve talked with Annabella Sciorra, who was raped by Harvey.
Do you have a support system? Yes, there is definitely a support system. There are e-mail chains, Twitter messaging groups and phone calls between us. We see each other at events. I recently called Ashley for some advice. We went to the Oscars together. Ashley and I have known each other forever. We did “Norma Jean & Marilyn” together for HBO in 1996. We never knew that the other one had been harassed by Harvey. We only found out last fall when her story came out and my story came out like five days later.
People are like, “Why didn’t everyone speak out earlier?” When these things happen to you, and they’re very unpleasant, you don’t know that there’s this giant group of other people who eventually will experience the same thing.
I did tell everyone I knew at the time, including Quentin Tarantino, my publicist and agents. No one said, “That is sexual harassment. You should go to a lawyer, or you should report this to the police.” Everyone just kind of listened to me sympathetically. No one suggested that I do anything about it. So I put my head down and soldiered on with my life.
None of us had any idea of the legions of women who were being harassed and assaulted by Harvey. If we had known, there would have been strength in numbers, and we could have done something about it. And I was young and naïve.
How did you react when you saw in the news Harvey under arrest and in handcuffs? I was gratified to see that Harvey was actually facing the first steps of the criminal justice system that hopefully will eventually convict and punish him for the crime of rape and that he’s being treated as a criminal.
The fact that he was able to go home on bail, yet the next person up in line in the same court had to spend the night in jail because of a $195 unpaid weed fine. So, obviously, he has privilege that still follows him because of his money. But it made me sad, just seeing him there. The whole thing reawakens everything again. That he has done this—hurt and traumatized so many people … it’s a mixed bag of emotions.
You wrote an open letter to Woody Allen’s daughter, Dylan Farrow, who accused him of sexual abuse, that you will never work with Woody again. I have reinvestigated (Dylan’s sexual abuse allegations against Woody) online, read things and talked to people. I became convinced that she was telling the truth, and that it was time to believe the victim. What’s in it for her to maintain this story all these years? She completely has enmity from her father. She had so much public scorn and hatred toward her for years.
It’s only been recently that more people in the public eye have come out in support of Dylan. I have since become friends with her. She is a lovely human being. Sweet, funny, vulnerable.
It’s horrible for me because I wrote an open letter to Dylan where I said, basically we have to kill our heroes if they are doing these monstrous things. And I grew up in reverence of him (Woody). I had his book, “Without Feathers,” when I was 12. I played a role in his play called “Play It Again, Sam” in high school. I played the Diane Keaton role. His “Mighty Aphrodite” obviously was the biggest break of my career. I cherish the memory of doing it so fondly. I had always looked on it in the most positive light, and I liked Woody.
It’s awful that I believe this (sexual abuse allegation) to be true and that it completely changes everything, but what can we do? Talent doesn’t mean that one doesn’t do bad things. Look at Harvey. He’s a monster.
“Condor” started as a novel, “Six Days of the Condor,” and then it was adapted into a film, “Three Days of the Condor.” Now, it’s a TV series. Do you think this gives the story a breath of new life? Yes, because this is about America today on the global stage, how we influence world events and how the ordinary citizen has little concept of what’s going on behind closed doors. It’s very relevant and it deals with Islamophobia, with American hegemony.
Your character, Marty Frost, was not in the original. Can you talk about her? I like her because she’s complex. We’re seeing a lot of women of my age who are playing command positions in television shows, but they’re generally very cold. This character underneath the surface is very hot-blooded. She’s very emotional, and she’s always straining to keep it all buttoned down.
But she’s intelligent, surprising, and she is different from other slightly more stereotypical women in command who had to give up their personality and femininity to be in their positions.
It’s been over 10 years since you did the series, “Human Trafficking.” You became an advocate against human trafficking as a result. I’m very involved in it more so than ever. I’ve been the goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime and Human Trafficking since 2009 through the present.
Email the columnist at [email protected] Follow him at http://twitter.com/nepalesruben.
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