Melissa Sagemiller Describes 3 Lewd Advances Made By Harvey Weinstein (Exclusive)
Actress Melissa Sagemiller has now told HuffPost that she experienced Weinstein’s behavior firsthand in the summer of 2000, when she filmed “Get Over It.”
It was Sagemiller’s second movie, a contemporary teen comedy based on “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” following the thriller “Soul Survivors.” The production, in her own words, was “star-studded.” Her colleagues included Kirsten Dunst, Ben Foster, Sisqó, Zoe Saldana, Mila Kunis, Shane West, Colin Hanks, Martin Short, Ed Begley Jr., Swoosie Kurtz and Carmen Electra.
Miramax, the studio that Weinstein managed at the time, distributed the film, which meant Weinstein floated around the set throughout the two-month shoot. Sagemiller said that Weinstein, who was then married to his onetime assistant, made three separate advances toward her, all uninvited. The first incident allegedly occurred during a lunch meeting arranged by Weinstein’s assistant. At a later date, Sagemiller said he attempted to coax her into his hotel room, supposedly to “discuss the script.” She also described an episode after the movie wrapped, in which Weinstein ordered airport personnel to deliver her to his private plane, despite her protests and separately scheduled flight.
At the time, Sagemiller wasn’t completely silent about the ordeal, though she was encouraged not to formally speak out. (She suspects Weinstein left Dunst and Kunis alone because they were underage at the time.)
“I was definitely talking about it when we would go out with the cast because I was trying to warn the other girls, and I was trying to be tough about it and make a joke about it,” she said. “I will definitely say that the whole atmosphere with my agents there at the time, and with everyone in the business, including his producing partner, who was a woman, was like, ‘Don’t cause any trouble. Don’t say anything. You’re not going to be that girl because it will definitely hurt your career. This is Harvey. Harvey’s Harvey. Just don’t pay attention to him, ignore it, just move on.’ I was never told, ‘Are you OK? Do you want to say anything? Do you want to report this?’ Nothing like that. It was just, ‘That’s Harvey.’”
Weinstein’s licentious activity has been extensively covered over the past week. After The New York Times and The New Yorker published separate investigations into the years-long allegations lodged against the mogul, actresses like Cara Delevingne and Kate Beckinsale have told their own stories via social media.
Below is Sagemiller’s account of Weinstein’s behavior as it progressed throughout filming. She spoke to us by phone on Thursday; we have edited and condensed her quotes slightly to ensure clarity.
“I just think it’s so widespread,” the actress said. “It’s crazy. And it’s not just Harvey. It’s so many people in the industry. You start talking, and then another actress will go, ‘Oh yeah, I had that happen to me.’ I think this is a very important, interesting time.”
1. The lunch
At the time, I was 24. We were shooting in Toronto, and I think right after shooting started, I was called by one of his assistants — a woman, as always — saying, “Harvey wants to have lunch with you” [...] which I was actually even sort of excited about. I thought, “Oh, wow, the head of Miramax wants to take me to lunch ― great!” It was my second big film that I was doing. No one really warned me that much. They might have said, “Oh, he’s a little frisky,” but no one warned me the extent of what I was about to encounter.
So I go to lunch. I will say I was prepped in that I’d heard he likes his leading ladies — that’s sort of the extent. It obviously gives you a little something, like, “OK, I know what I’m walking into.”
The lunch was fine, although he was pretty inappropriate in terms of just being very flirty and asking me what I like to do and what kind of guys I like to date. It did become personal. Then he took me to a bookstore and proceeded to ask me, did I like literature? I was an English major at the University of Virginia. “Great, I’m going to buy you every Fitzgerald book in the bookstore, and I’m going to sign it to you, especially ‘The Last Tycoon’ because I am the last tycoon, and I’m actually about to produce the film, and it’s all about me, and you’re an English major — you’re so smart.”
I’m a city girl — I know how to handle myself. I’m tough. I was like, “OK, Harvey.” I gave him a lot of shit. I was always quick with a response, and I was quick to deflect because I figured out really quickly what kind of guy I thought he was.
2. The hotel room
The next incident that happened was further into the production. I was called by another assistant of his asking me to go to his hotel room. It’s like the Ashley Judd situation. He wanted to discuss the script. I was like, “I really don’t feel comfortable with this. Can we meet on the set tomorrow? In my trailer? Whatever. I just don’t really understand why I have to go to his room.” I was told, “It’s not going to be a long meeting.”
This is the horror of it all: You have another woman orchestrating this, knowing full well what is going to happen.
So then the assistant said, “The script has all these changes that he needs to discuss with you. It’s very important.” I remember talking to my boyfriend at the time on the phone, being like, “I can’t believe I have to do this. I don’t want to do this. I don’t have a good feeling about this, and I know what’s going to happen.” I was trying to be tough about it.
Anyway, I went to his room. Immediately he had drinks. The script was on the kitchen counter. He was in his robe. He’s like, “Would you give me a massage?” The whole thing. I said, “Harvey, I’m here to discuss the script. I’m not going to give you a massage or any of that.” And the banter went back and forth. He’s like, “I love you. You’re so fiery, you’re so smart. No one can give you shit, Sagemiller.” I’m like, “Exactly right.” But he just wouldn’t stop. I said, “I’m going to have to leave — we were supposed to discuss the script.” I just remember him saying, “Ah, I have to take a shower; I just went to the gym.” I don’t even know. It was so gross.
He said, “Well, you’re not going to leave until you kiss me.” I remember that’s when it turned from “Oh, ha ha, I can handle this guy” to “Well, OK, he’s blocking the door, sort of” — he’d walked over and put his hand on the door. It was just one of those things where I was like, “Really?” He just wouldn’t stop. It was relentless. And then he said, “Well, Renée did it and Charlize did it and this other actress did it. Don’t you want your career to be more than just this little teen film?” I said, “No, I’m not interested, thank you very much.” He said, “Well, you can’t leave until you kiss me.” He literally would not let me leave. I said fine and kissed him on the lips. He sort of held my head and made me kiss him, and then he’s like, “OK, you can go now. That’s all I wanted. Just do what I say and you can get your way.”
He finally opened the door so I could leave. I remember sitting in that elevator. He was so disgusting. He was taking Accutane at the time, and his skin was peeling all over this face. His lips were peeling. He was like Jabba the Hutt. He was like a lizard that was molting. It was so disgusting. […] I know that women have had much worse.
3. The airplane
Cut to the wrap party. He’d already gotten some other girl that he had given this small number of lines to and was apparently sleeping with, according to the rumor mill on the movie. So he started to leave me alone and not pursue me as much, until the wrap party comes around.
I had to come over and say, “Thank you for the movie.” He said, “Well, you’re coming back on my plane.” I said, “Harvey, I’m totally cool. I’ve got my own flight. Thank you so much for the offer, but I’m good. I’m good.” He’s like, “No, no, no, you’re taking my plane. It’s fine, I’ll arrange it. It’s all arranged. It’s arranged already.”
So then I ran out the door of the party and called my agent at the time. I said, “Do not take me off the flight I’m on. No matter who calls, do not cancel this flight that I have. It’s my separate flight from Toronto.”
The party ended and I went back to the hotel. I woke up and left the hotel an hour earlier than I was supposed to. My flight was at, like, 10 a.m., and I left the hotel at 7:30 a.m. That way, I wouldn’t see his assistant, I wouldn’t see Harvey, I wouldn’t see anyone.
I checked my bag, I went through security — this is pre-9/11, mind you — and I’m waiting to board at the gate of the flight when, all of a sudden, over the loudspeaker, I hear, “Melissa Sagemiller, please report to the security desk immediately. Melissa Sagemiller, please pick up the white phone at the security desk immediately.”
So I’m like, “Wait, what? Did someone have a heart attack?” You’re just thinking about all of these horrible scenarios. I run to the security desk down the hall, and it’s his assistant again. “Melissa? We’ve gotten your bags off the plane. The car is out front. Get in the car.” It was just so incredible. I started laughing. I said, “What are you talking about? You got my bags?” She’s like, “Yes, Harvey’s insistent. Please get in the car. Just please get in the car.”
They’d kidnapped my bags at this point, so I was just like, “Fine, you win, motherfucker.” So I left the airport, went out to the top level where the car was, got in the car. They raced me to the private-plane runway where there were other actors on the plane. Sisqó was on it, and Shane West was on it. Thank God. If I had walked in there and it was just him, I don’t know. I would have had to run away because that’s horrendous. I think I even asked at the time, “Are there other people on this plane? I’m not going alone.” [The assistant] said, “There are other actors on this plane.”
So I get on the plane, I walk up and I go, “Harvey, you motherfucker.” He’s just sitting there. He pats his hand on the seat next to him, and he’s like, “See, Melissa, you can’t say no to me. I always get what I want.” He wanted me on this plane, and he wanted me somewhere where I couldn’t go anywhere. And he just wanted to eff with me. He just wanted to fuck with my head. [...]
It was a short flight, from Toronto to New York. Shane and I were talking; we were friendly, and I stuck by him. I’m sure I had told him Harvey’s stories. [...]
I don’t think I’ve interacted with [Harvey] that much because none of the other movies I did were Miramax. […] And then I crossed over and did mostly television, so I didn’t have to see him. [...]
If my manager called me tomorrow and said, “Actually, I remember there was this movie you were up for, and now that I’m thinking back on it, maybe [rebuffing Weinstein is] why you didn’t get it,” I wouldn’t be surprised at all.
Representatives for Renée Zellweger and Charlize Theron did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s requests for comment.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.