What You Missed This Weekend: Uma's Anger, And Other Updates In The World Of Predators
I don’t know about you, but I spent this weekend mainlining both seasons of The Good Place directly into my eyeholes (it’s great! everyone was right!), but now it’s Monday morning and I don’t see Ted Danson anywhere, so everything is confusing and hurts. And in my bid for delayed relevance, I guess I missed a lot. Some sports happened last night, apparently? And there were commercials that I’m supposed to care about? What else…
Oh yeah, a whole bunch more stories came about about Hollywood abusers. First up: Uma Thurman.
After months of waiting, she finally opened up to the The New York Times about her experience with Harvey Weinstein. Yes, he did try to assault her, well into their working relationship:
He pushed me down. He tried to shove himself on me. He tried to expose himself. He did all kinds of unpleasant things. But he didn’t actually put his back into it and force me. You’re like an animal wriggling away, like a lizard. I was doing anything I could to get the train back on the track. My track. Not his track.
She confronted him afterwards, though she doesn’t remember much about the event (Weinstein seems to confirm the confrontation to the Times, though he refers to the alleged assault as an “awkward pass” in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter — and his lawyer claims they are reviewing Thurman’s statements to see if they will pursue any legal action against her). She also discussed feeling bad about all the girls Weinstein allegedly attacked after her:
“I am one of the reasons that a young girl would walk into his room alone, the way I did. Quentin used Harvey as the executive producer of Kill Bill, a movie that symbolizes female empowerment. And all these lambs walked into slaughter because they were convinced nobody rises to such a position who would do something illegal to you, but they do.”
Thurman stresses that Creative Artists Agency, her former agency, was connected to Weinstein’s predatory behavior. It has since issued a public apology. “I stand as both a person who was subjected to it and a person who was then also part of the cloud cover, so that’s a super weird split to have,” she says.
But Thurman’s biggest revelation was arguably about how her conflict with Weinstein impacted her working relationship with Quentin Tarantino, her director for Pulp Fiction and the Kill Bill films. She told Tarantino about Weinstein’s alleged assault:
She says Tarantino noticed after a dinner that she was skittish around Weinstein, which was a problem, since they were all about to make Kill Bill. She says she reminded Tarantino that she had already told him about the Savoy incident, but “he probably dismissed it like ‘Oh, poor Harvey, trying to get girls he can’t have,’ whatever he told himself, who knows?” But she reminded him again and “the penny dropped for him. He confronted Harvey.”
Later, by the pool under the Cypress trees at the luxurious Hotel du Cap, Thurman recalls, Weinstein said he was hurt and surprised by her accusations. She then firmly reiterated what happened in London. “At some point, his eyes changed and he went from aggressive to ashamed,” she says, and he offered her an apology with many of the sentiments he would trot out about 16 years later when the walls caved in.
“I just walked away stunned, like ‘O.K., well there’s my half-assed apology,’” Thurman says.
But though Tarantino stood up for her, he later would put her in harm’s way himself on the set of Kill Bill. Not only did he personally dole out some of the abuse her character suffered in the films (he spit in her face and choked her with a chain in two different scenes), but in the final days of the shoot he refused her request for a stunt driver in a scene where she was supposed to drive a blue convertible:
“Quentin came in my trailer and didn’t like to hear no, like any director,” she says. “He was furious because I’d cost them a lot of time. But I was scared. He said: ‘I promise you the car is fine. It’s a straight piece of road.’” He persuaded her to do it, and instructed: ” ‘Hit 40 miles per hour or your hair won’t blow the right way and I’ll make you do it again.’ But that was a deathbox that I was in. The seat wasn’t screwed down properly. It was a sand road and it was not a straight road.” (Tarantino did not respond to requests for comment.)
The car slammed into a palm tree with Thurman behind the wheel.
“The steering wheel was at my belly and my legs were jammed under me,” she says. “I felt this searing pain and thought, ‘Oh my God, I’m never going to walk again,’” she says. “When I came back from the hospital in a neck brace with my knees damaged and a large massive egg on my head and a concussion, I wanted to see the car and I was very upset. Quentin and I had an enormous fight, and I accused him of trying to kill me. And he was very angry at that, I guess understandably, because he didn’t feel he had tried to kill me.”
The incident led to a years-long fight between Thurman and Tarantino, in part because Tarantino refused to show her the footage of the crash (it took her 15 years to finally get it from him). Miramax initially tried to get her to sign a waiver clearing them of fault in exchange for the footage, but she refused. You can see the footage of the crash, which she called “dehumanization to the point of death,” in the Times article. Out of everything she went through, with Weinstein and Tarantino, it was that crash that finally made her feel disempowered.
But Uma Thurman wasn’t the only one talking about predators this weekend! Terry Crews revealed on Twitter that he’s STILL getting threats related to his accusations against William Morris Endeavor agent Adam Venit, whom Crews claims groped him at a party.
And in the Washington Post, nine women accused Hollywood manager Vincent Cirrincione of sexual harassment. The women, eight African Americans and one Asian American, sought representation from Cirrincione because he had a reputation for boosting the careers of minority women — in part because he had several high-profile black clients, such as Halle Berry and Taraji P. Henson. Berry told the Post in a statement that she cut ties with Cirrincione three years ago when she first heard an allegation of his misconduct. Henson says she viewed him as a “father figure” who helped support her when she was struggling with her career — even going so far as to pay her rent and child care on occasion.
But his accusers claim he would name-drop his high-profile clients to attract other women, and in some cases offered to help their careers in exchange for sexual favors.
Three of the women say that he pushed for sex as a condition for representing them, and that he did not take them on when they refused. A fourth said he offered to help advance her career if she agreed to have sex with him monthly. A fifth actress said he masturbated in front of her in his office during the years he managed her.
The reality is that it’s hard for women — and especially women of color — to get ahead in Hollywood. The overwhelming majority of leading roles go to white actors, and particularly white men. As the Post notes:
Of the top 168 U.S. films ranked by global box office performance in 2015, only 11 leading roles were played by black actors, compared with 145 by white actors, according to data analyzed by an author of UCLA’s 2017 Hollywood diversity report. Black women starred in two films; white women starred in 44.
So it’s no wonder that women would seek out a figure like Cirrincione who had a track record of helping actresses buck that trend — even helping them secure roles originally intended for white women, as was the case with Berry. For his part, Cirrincione acknowledges that he has “built a reputation for advancing the careers of women of color” but denies using “favors, sexual or otherwise, as a reason for managing anyone.”
The women stayed silent for years out of fear of repercussions, but in the wake of the Weinstein accusations they had to courage to come forward in hopes their stories would help other women navigate the industry. One of the accusers, Tamika Laminson, claims she went to Cirrincione’s hotel suite for an audition in 1997, where he tried to kiss her and told her he’d take her on as a client if she agreed to have sex with him “whenever he wanted.” She pushed him away and left.
“Any kind of sexual misconduct or harassment that’s talked about from women is automatically suspect,” said Lamison, who runs a program to cultivate more women and minority directors. “For black women, it seems like we are even more marginalized when it comes to something like that. Historically, how we have been treated and looked at — and to some degree oversexualized — makes it difficult.”
When we talk about this kind of abuse, we’re not just talking about sex — we’re talking about power. And what makes this particular story so devastating isn’t the severity of the crimes (unlike Weinstein, none of the nine women have accused Cirrincione of rape) but the calculated pattern of behavior, in which a man allegedly set himself up as a champion of women of color in order to prey on them.
Oh, and just to bring things full circle, Justin Timberlake returned to the Super Bowl to perform the halftime show. Remember the last time he was there, when he caused a “wardrobe malfunction” that exposed Janet Jackson’s breast on live television and she took the blame? Well, at least we got #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay out of it.
UPDATE: Uma Thurman posted a clip of her accident on Instagram today, and seems to clarify that she doesn’t blame Tarantino. In the caption she says, “Quentin Tarantino, was deeply regretful and remains remorseful about this sorry event, and gave me the footage years later so I could expose it and let it see the light of day, regardless of it most likely being an event for which justice will never be possible. He also did so with full knowledge it could cause him personal harm, and I am proud of him for doing the right thing and for his courage.” She goes on to say she holds producers Lawrence Bender, E. Bennett Walsh, and Harvey Weinstein responsible for covering up the incident after the fact.