Sandra Bullock opens up about #MeToo: “I heard about Harvey and I was afraid of him"

She never worked with Weinstein, but she said she had long heard harrowing stories

Published June 19, 2018 1:42PM (EDT)

Sandra Bullock (AP/Joel C Ryan)
Sandra Bullock (AP/Joel C Ryan)

Sandra Bullock spoke out about Harvey Weinstein in a new interview with the Sunday Times. The "Ocean's 8" star said that while she never worked with the producer, she "was afraid of him."

"I only heard what Harvey wanted people to hear, and that made me so f**king angry," she said. "People would say, 'Well, you know how she got that role? She f**ked Harvey.' I would say, 'Shut the f**k up. You don’t know that.'"

Bullock continued, "Then, later, to find out that woman was brutally attacked. . . They didn’t sleep with Harvey. Harvey wanted you to think that."

The actress' statement underscores how pervasive Weinstein's influence was in Hollywood and how unchallenged his word was against women, as well as how many in the industry either validated his claims, protected him or looked the other way — an important point to remember when men call out about the lack of due process for the accused.

Even with all the whisper circles about Weinstein's alleged abuse, Bullock told the Times that when The New York Times and New Yorker stories came out about the mogul in October, she remembers feeling "really, really scared" for the "brave people" who went on record.

"I was like, 'Oh my God, this is amazing, but f**k, f**k, f**k, what if it doesn’t work? Please God, let it not swing the other way,'" Bullock said.

Weinstein has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women. He continues to deny the allegations and recently, he pleaded not guilty in the Manhattan Supreme Court to two rape charges and one charge of a criminal sexual act.

Ben Brafman, Weinstein's attorney told HuffPost in a statement: "By her own admission, Harvey Weinstein never had an unpleasant interaction with Sandra Bullock. Indeed, from a review of her correspondence with Mr. Weinstein, it would appear that she had a warm pleasant relationship with him and even his daughter going back many years."

The lawyer added that Weinstein is innocent until proven guilty. "When piling on becomes the norm simply because it seems to be the politically correct or fashionable thing to do, we all lose, including Ms. Bullock," Brafman said.

In Bullock's interview with the Times, she also spoke more generally about what the #MeToo movement means for Hollywood and the public at large. "We’re in such uncharted territory right now," she said. "I’ve seen a lot of fear and a lot of men of a certain generation not understanding."

Bullock offered an example. In her upcoming movie, "Bird Box," she said men on set have been anxious and apprehensive around her, for fear of saying or doing anything that could come off as harassing or abusive.

"I saw a tremendous amount of fear from men on set," Bullock said. "In the end, I said 'I know you’re scared, but I feel safe, so you can make some jokes now. But if you cross the line, I will f**k you up.'"

For every alleged abuser ousted, there have been deafening cries from men that they're scared and thus don't know how to act, apparently because simply treating women like human beings or equals is too difficult to grasp.

"I don't believe you have to be told how to treat another human being," #MeToo founder Tarana Burke said on an episode of "Salon Talks." "I think at our core, we know how to treat people. When men interact with other men . . . they know inherently to treat each other with respect."

When it comes to women, "It should be no different," she added.

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Still, many in the press have come to these men's rescue, calling for due process and leniency. Just last week, "CBS This Morning" co-anchor Gayle King told The New York Times Magazine that "when a woman makes an accusation, the man instantly gets the death penalty. There has to be some sort of due process here. All of these inappropriate behaviors are not all the same."

When the reporter questioned if firing someone was a harsh punishment, King replied, "In some cases, yes."

However, Bullock's statement is particularly significant: now she feels safe in her workplace. While so much of the attention has reverted back to the men — how they feel and how they are coping with a post-Weinstein Hollywood and world — Bullock critically centered herself. In her 25 years in the industry, now she feels free from harm at work.

And how many women in Hollywood or elsewhere echo this feeling? It is momentous that with this new movement, men are finally forced to think about their actions towards women, and at least some women can finally feel safe at work. Bullock is far from representative of all women, but if that shift has happened in her life, it's indicative of the power of the movement and also how far there is left to go.

Will the detractors understand and respect the power of Bullock's statement? It's disheartening, albeit not surprising, that for many, men's freedom to make sexist jokes or flirt unwarrantedly is higher on many priority lists than women's safety. That's why the work continues, as Burke points out, to go beyond halting the careers of individual problematic men and focus on eradicating the patriarchy and misogyny from society that socializes men to see and treat women as inherently unequal.

By Rachel Leah

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