LOS ANGELES, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Meryl Streep, the most admired actress in the entertainment industry, on Monday criticized Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein for “inexcusable behavior” but said she was unaware of any talk about his alleged sexual harassment of women.
Streep, who has won three Oscars, had been under pressure to speak out after a New York Times investigation last week detailed claims by multiple women of unwanted physical contact and harassment by Weinstein over three decades.
Weinstein, 65, initially apologized but later threatened to sue. He was fired on Sunday as co-chairman of the Weinstein Co because of the fallout from the Times story but has not been charged with any crimes.
Streep, who in 2012 called Weinstein “God” in a Golden Globe acceptance speech and appeared in numerous films produced by him, said the “disgraceful news about Harvey Weinstein has appalled those of us whose work he championed.”
But Streep said in a statement to the Huffington Post that she did not know about the reported claims that he had undressed in front of actresses and assistants or asked young women to give him massages.
“Harvey supported the work fiercely, was exasperating but respectful with me in our working relationship, and with many others with whom he worked professionally,” Streep said.
“I did not know about his having meetings in his hotel room, his bathroom, or other inappropriate, coercive acts.”
Actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan are among those who have said Weinstein sexually harassed them. Other Hollywood heavyweights, including director Judd Apatow and producer Megan Ellison, have spoken out in support of the women.
“The behavior is inexcusable, but the abuse of power familiar,” Steep said. “Each brave voice that is raised, heard and credited by our watchdog media will ultimately change the game.”
Weinstein, who produced or distributed Oscar-winning movies like “Shakespeare in Love” and “Chicago,” is the latest U.S. media or entertainment industry titan to face sexual harassment accusations.
At Fox News, late Chief Executive Officer Roger Ailes was forced out of the company in 2016 after being accused of sexual harassment, and popular anchor Bill O’Reilly had to resign in April on similar grounds. Both denied the allegations.
More than 50 women have accused comedian Bill Cosby of sexual assault. He faces a retrial in April on the one criminal case against him. (Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)