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Death and Taxes

Salma Hayek Says Harvey Weinstein Forced Her to Shoot Nude Sex Scene for Frida [UPDATE]

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 23: Actor Salma Hayek attends the 70th Anniversary of the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 23, 2017 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Salma Hayek penned an op-ed the New York Times Wednesday detailing her harrowing experience on the 2002 biopic Frida, which she starred in and produced with alleged serial predator Harvey Weinstein. In the column, Hayek wrote that the producer harassed her multiple times during the film’s production and at one point demanded she film a full-frontal nude sex scene with another woman or he would drop the film.

Hayek describes her hesitation to discuss the experience when approached by reporters this fall, and her feeling that it was “nothing but a drop in an ocean of sorrow and confusion” compared to the accounts of other women who had come forward with accusations against Weinstein. It was their courage, she wrote, that ultimately inspired her to speak out.

After signing a deal with Weinstein that gave his company the rights to Frida, Hayek alleges the producer began making a series of inappropriate demands, which she rebuffed:

No to opening the door to him at all hours of the night, hotel after hotel, location after location, where he would show up unexpectedly, including one location where I was doing a movie he wasn’t even involved with. No to me taking a shower with him. No to letting him watch me take a shower. No to letting him give me a massage. No to letting a naked friend of his give me a massage. No to letting him give me oral sex. No to my getting naked with another woman.

Hayek’s refusal to take part in Weinstein’s orders provoked his rage, she alleges, and at one point the producer told her “I will kill you, don’t think I can’t.” She wrote that when Weinstein tried to have her replaced by another actress, she got lawyers involved, and he made a series of demands to “clear himself legally.” These included getting a rewrite of the script with no additional payment, raising $10 million, attaching an A-list director, and casting four of the smaller roles with prominent actors. When Hayek was able to fulfill these requests, Weinstein demanded she film a nude sex scene with another woman.

He had been constantly asking for more skin, for more sex. Once before, Julie Taymor got him to settle for a tango ending in a kiss instead of the lovemaking scene he wanted us to shoot between the character Tina Modotti, played by Ashley Judd, and Frida.

But this time, it was clear to me he would never let me finish this movie without him having his fantasy one way or another. There was no room for negotiation

Hayek says she had nervous breakdown during the filming of the scene, not at having to be naked with another woman, but “because I would be naked with her for Harvey Weinstein.” She began to vomit, and took a tranquilizer which stopped her from crying but only made the vomiting worse. “By the time the filming of the movie was over,” Hayek wrote, “I was so emotionally distraught that I had to distance myself during the postproduction.”

Still, even with his demands met, Weinstein threatened to release the film straight-to-video. After the film scored an 85 in audience test scores, which meant it would be released in theaters, “Harvey raged,” Hayek wrote.

 In the lobby of a theater after the screening, he screamed at [director] Julie [Taymor]. He balled up one of the scorecards and threw it at her. It bounced off her nose. Her partner, the film’s composer Elliot Goldenthal, stepped in, and Harvey physically threatened him.

After the film was nominated for six Academy Awards, winning two, Hayek writes that Weinstein never offered her a starring role again. When she ran into him years later, after he claimed to have had a heart attack, Weinstein allegedly took partial credit for the film, telling her “You did well with ‘Frida’; we did a beautiful movie.”

Update 12/14:
A spokesperson for Weinstein released the following statement Thursday morning in response to Hayek’s op-ed.

Mr. Weinstein regards Salma Hayek as a first-class actress and cast her in several of his movies, among them Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Dogma, and Studio 54. He was very proud of her best-actress Academy Award nomination for Frida and continues to support her work.

While Jennifer Lopez was interested in playing Frida and at the time was a bigger star, Mr. Weinstein overruled other investors to back Salma as the lead. Miramax put up half of the money and all of the P&A; the budget was over $12 million. As in most collaborative projects, there was creative friction on Frida, but it served to drive the project to perfection. The movie opened in multiple theaters and was supported by a huge advertising campaign and an enormous Academy Awards budget.

Mr. Weinstein does not recall pressuring Salma to do a gratuitous sex scene with a female co-star and he was not there for the filming. However, that was part of the story, as Frida Kahlo was bisexual and the more significant sex scene in the movie was choreographed by Ms. Hayek with Geoffrey Rush. The original unibrow used was an issue because it diverted attention from the performances. All of the sexual allegations as portrayed by Salma are not accurate and others who witnessed the events have a different account of what transpired.

Ed Norton, who was Ms. Hayek’s boyfriend at the time, [worked with Mr. Weinstein on the rewrite of the script in Mexico] did a brilliant job of rewriting the script and Mr. Weinstein battled the W.G.A. to get him a credit on the film. His effort was unsuccessful to everyone’s disappointment.

By Mr. Weinstein’s own admission, his boorish behavior following a screening of Frida was prompted by his disappointment in the cut of the movie—and a reason he took a firm hand in the final edit, alongside the very skilled director Julie Taymor.