Jane Fonda was told of sexual harassment allegations surrounding Harvey Weinstein last year, the Hollywood actress has revealed. The Oscar-winning star said she regretted not speaking out when she first learned of accusations against the movie mogul from a fellow actress, who has since made her own allegations public.
Slamming Weinstein as a “predator”, Fonda said sexual abuse was “hardly unique” in Hollywood as she revealed her own experiences of being propositioned by a director as a 21-year-old. The Coming Home star told Stephen Sackur in an appearance on BBC HARDtalk: “I couldn’t even be a secretary, I got fired as a secretary because I wouldn’t sleep with the boss.
“I had one experience with a French director, he was going to cast me in a role that required the character had an orgasm and he said to know whether I should be cast he should find out what orgasms I had.” Fonda added: “I didn’t say anything, I did laugh. And I got the part although I didn’t give him what he wanted, but I didn’t say anything. It didn’t even occur to me that I could in those days.”
On Weinstein, the 79-year-old said: “I wish I had spoken out … I will admit I should have been braver, I think from now on I will be when I hear such stories. “I think it’s because if I had I would have had to out someone that wasn’t prepared to speak out. She subsequently has. “If it had happened to me I would now.”
Fonda said actresses had failed to speak out earlier because they feared for their careers, before adding: “There’s another reason which is even more insidious – that you won’t be believed. “It’s very hard to come forward when you’ve been a victim of sexual abuse because you get dragged over the coals, you have to prove, you have to justify.
“We have to start believing these women and standing forward and protecting them.” The actress called harassment an “epidemic”, not just in Hollywood but in “the world of business, science, academia, government”.
“It’s the entitlement of too many men and it is epidemic. And when they are famous and powerful like Harvey then it gets talked about and so it’s really important that those women have been brave enough to come out,” Fonda said.
:: BBC HARDtalk with Jane Fonda will be broadcast on Monday on BBC News Channel, BBC World Service Radio and internationally on BBC World News.