Oprah Winfrey discussed some of her past interactions with disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein in a wide ranging interview with Gwyneth Paltrow published Thursday.
“What I knew about Harvey was that Harvey was a bully and that if Harvey’s on the phone, you go ‘God, you don’t want to take the call,’ because you’re going to get bullied in some way,” Winfrey said in an episode of Paltrow’s newly launched podcast.
What that meant for Winfrey, she recalled, was that Weinstein pressured her to have certain guests on her long-running talk show.
Winfrey reiterated that she had no knowledge of Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct prior to reports by the New York Times and The New Yorker last fall.
“Was I friendly with Harvey? Yes, I was friendly with Harvey. Was I in association with Harvey for the ‘Butler’ movie? Yes, but of course I didn’t know any of this was going on,” Winfrey said.
(The Weinstein Company distributed Lee Daniels’ 2013 film “The Butler,” in which Winfrey had a role.)
More than 60 women have accused Weinstein of sexual harassment or assault.
Through a spokesperson, Weinstein has repeatedly denied any allegations of non-consensual sex.
In an interview with the New York Times in October, Paltrow said Weinstein made an unwanted advance toward her when she was 22.
Paltrow said she has questioned if her interactions with Weinstein influenced her decision to step back from acting years ago.
“So much of my acting career and so many of the incredible highs — and lows as well — were associated with him and Miramax [Weinstein’s former studio],” Paltrow said. “Did this predominant relationship in my professional life lead me to not want to do it anymore?”
After Weinstein’s alleged misconduct was brought to light, a wave of allegations against other powerful figures followed.
“It had been coming with [Bill] Cosby and nothing happened, it had been coming with Bill O’Reilly … even with the President of the United States, where people can hear the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape and yet, nothing happens,” Winfrey said. “It had been coming and so that moment [Weinstein] was the moment where it all crystallized.”
Cosby and O’Reilly have denied any wrongdoing.
Winfrey said she is “proud of where we are and what we’re doing” in the midst of the #MeToo movement, crediting all the women who experienced harassment or assault and went unheard.
“There are those who endured, suffered and didn’t speak, because they couldn’t speak, because they knew to speak meant ‘I won’t be able to feed my children,'” Winfrey said.
She added that she hopes this moment in time, when women can be heard, results in real change.
“I think where this movement will eventually lead us to is not accepting any kind of behavior that disparages. You are a human being, period,” Winfrey said.