“I don’t cast films according to Harvey Weinstein’s erection.” — A quote from director Michael Caton-Jones that should have been published twenty years ago, but wasn’t.
The role went to Asia Argento instead of British starlet Sophie Okonedo. As we know now, Argento has accused the Hollywood honcho of raping her in 1997.
Caton-Jones first worked with Weinstein 10 years prior on the 1989 film Scandal, when he noted Harvey would only show up to set for sex scenes.
They crossed paths again when the Weinstein brothers were attached to the 1998 cult classic.
The director said of the extensive casting process:
“The basics of the deal was we were going to find an unknown and we were going to cast her as the lead in the film. There was extensive casting. We saw many, many girls, maybe 100 or so. And I ended up ├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥ I thought Sophie Okonedo would have been great for the part.”
“The trouble began” when Sophie and Michael met with Harvey at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills for approval:
“Harvey kept saying to me, ├óΓé¼╦£Do you think she is fuckable?’… That was what the deal was all the time. I said, ├óΓé¼╦£She is the best actress for the job, Harvey.’ And we started arguing about it. It was only when I said to Harvey, ├óΓé¼╦£Don’t screw up the casting of this film because you want to get laid,’ whereupon he went mental.”
When Michael returned to his room to cool off from the argument, he received a call from Variety requesting a comment for a story about him walking off set. Harvey was already covering his tracks.
“I was furious after being kicked off my film, and I told them all about what happened. I told them about the harassment claims, and I said ‘Here is your quote: I don’t cast films according to Harvey Weinstein’s erection,’ and they just laughed.”
When asked about why his response wasn’t included in the original story, a spokesman for the outlet said they couldn’t comment on editorial decisions made that long ago under different ownership:
“As you know, the publication is under different ownership now, and therefore, we don’t have a comment on previous editorial practices.”
Not long after the incident, Harvey gave Michael Radford the gig as director and cast Argento as the lead.
According to Caton-Jones’ impression of Weinstein:
“Sophie Okonedo was not fuckable and that was it. Find someone who is.”
Even though he was applauded by his close circle for how he handled Harvey’s gross behavior, the director still faced repercussions:
“I was the stupid one who stood up and told him to go to hell. I stood up to him and told him to go fuck himself. And I got a lot of support from a lot of people when I did that, but you know, I didn’t make the film, so he won.”
As for those saying they were unaware of what was going on all these years, Michael said:
“Anyone who didn’t know, didn’t want to know. It’s like Germany after the Second World War ├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥ I’ve never seen so many people not knowing anything. I certainly knew what was going on at the time. And everyone around us pretty much all knew what the score was. You only had to spend five minutes with Harvey to get the nature of the man. He didn’t particularly hide who he was.”
We’re just sad this story wasn’t told sooner.
[Image via Alan West/WENN.]