Several Hollywood actors including veterans Meryl Streep and George Clooney have spoken out against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who is battling multiple accusations of sexual misconduct.
Many in the media have labelled Weinstein's behaviour as one of Hollywood's worst kept secrets, but while Streep, Clooney, Jennifer Lawrence and Judi Dench criticised his behaviour, they emphasised that they had no prior knowledge.
Weinstein has been fired from his own company after the allegations became public following a New York Times investigative piece that claimed the Hollywood producer reached at least eight financial settlements. Several other women have come forward with their stories after the publication of the article.
Streep, who worked with Weinstein on films like "August: Osage County" and "The Iron Lady", lauded the women for coming out against the producer.
"The disgraceful news about Harvey Weinstein has appalled those of us whose work he championed, and those whose good and worthy causes he supported...
"One thing can be clarified. Not everybody knew. 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 in a statement to HuffPost.
She said the media would not have neglected to write about Weinstein's "inappropriate, coercive acts" if everybody knew about it.
"The behaviour is inexcusable, but the abuse of power familiar," she added.
Clooney, who said he has known Weinstein for 20 years, called his behaviour "indefensible" and "disturbing".
"It's indefensible. That's the only word you can start with. Harvey's admitted to it, and it's indefensible. I've known Harvey for 20 years.
"He gave me my first big break as an actor in films on 'From Dusk Till Dawn', he gave me my first big break as a director with 'Confessions of a Dangerous Mind'. We've had dinners, we've been on location together, we've had arguments. But I can tell you that I've never seen any of this behaviour ever," Clooney told the Daily Beast.
Dench, another frequent collaborator of Weinstein, said the allegations were "horrifying" and she "wholeheartedly" supports those who have suffered.
"Whilst there is no doubt that Harvey Weinstein has helped and championed my film career for the past 20 years, I was completely unaware of these offences which are, of course, horrifying and I offer my sympathy to those who have suffered, and wholehearted support to those who have spoken out," Dench told the Entertainment Weekly.
Lawrence, who won an Oscar for her role in the Weinstein-produced "Silver Linings Playbook", told the Hollywood Reporter that she was "deeply disturbed" by the allegations but clarified that she did not experience any harassment personally.
"I worked with Harvey five years ago and I did not experience any form of harassment personally, nor did I know about any of these allegations.
"My heart goes out to all of the women affected by these gross actions. And I want to thank them for their bravery to come forward," she said.
Actor Jessica Chastain too joined the growing list of female Hollywood stars condemning Weinstein's behaviour.
"I was warned from the beginning. The stories were everywhere. To deny that is to create an environment for it to happen again," Chastain tweeted.
Veteran actor Glenn Close admitted that she was aware of vague rumours about Weinstein's inappropriate behaviour towards women.
"I'm sitting here, deeply upset, acknowledging to myself that, yes, for many years, I have been aware of the vague rumours that Harvey Weinstein had a pattern of behaving inappropriately around women. Harvey has always been decent to me, but now that the rumours are being substantiated, I feel angry and darkly sad," Close said in a statement.
"I'm angry, not just at him and the conspiracy of silence around his actions, but also that the 'casting couch' phenomenon, so to speak, is still a reality in our business and in the world: the horrible pressure, the awful expectation put on a woman when a powerful, egotistical, entitled bully expects sexual favours in exchange for a job," she added.
Lena Dunham was one of the first celebrities to criticise Weinstein.
"When we stay silent, we gag the victims... When we stay silent, we stay on the same path that led us here. Making noise is making change," she wrote in the Times.
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