Meryl Streep has spoken out against producer Harvey Weinstein in the wake of the sexual harassment claims that saw him being fired by his own company.
In a statement first published by the Huffington Post, the star said she was “appalled” by the “disgraceful” news.
She went on to praise “the intrepid women who raised their voices to expose this abuse”, calling them “heroes”.
Emma Thompson, Mark Ruffalo and Seth Rogen are among other leading actors to express similar sentiments.
The Weinstein revelations have instigated a fierce debate about abuse of power in Hollywood and beyond.
And Streep’s statement followed criticism that leading Hollywood figures had maintained a “deafening silence” in the wake of the allegations against Weinstein surfacing in the New York Times on Friday.
Streep said she wanted to make it clear that “not everybody” had known about the allegations, including herself.
The three-time Oscar-winner said the news had “appalled those of us whose work [Weinstein] championed, and those whose good and worthy causes he supported.”
Streep worked with Weinstein on such films as The Iron Lady and August: Osage County and jokingly referred to him as “God” in a 2012 acceptance speech.
“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 wrote.
“I didn’t know about these other offences: I did not know about his financial settlements with actresses and colleagues; I did not know about his having meetings in his hotel room, his bathroom, or other inappropriate, coercive acts.
“And if everybody knew, I don’t believe that all the investigative reporters in the entertainment and the hard news media would have neglected for decades to write about it.”
She added: “The behaviour is inexcusable, but the abuse of power familiar. Each brave voice that is raised, heard and credited by our watchdog media will ultimately change the game.”
Speaking earlier on Monday, Britain’s Emma Thompson said she was pleased the story had come out and described Weinstein as “a predatory man”.
“We need to talk about how we’re behaving,” the actress and screenwriter told the BBC. “Male predatory behaviour is everywhere, not just in the film industry.
“Speaking out is the only way we’ll tackle it. Let’s support those women who don’t have the confidence to speak out.”
Some male stars have also spoken out to denounce Weinstein and express support for the women he is alleged to have abused.
“What Harvey Weinstein did was a disgusting abuse of power and horrible,” tweeted Avengers actor Mark Ruffalo. “I hope we are now seeing the beginning of the end of these abuses.”
“I believe all the women coming forward about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment,” wrote Seth Rogen. “It takes bravery to do so.”
Actress Rose McGowan, whom the New York Times claimed had reached a legal settlement with Weinstein in 1997, has also been highly vocal without mentioning the producer by name.
‘Weinstein used power as a gateway’
By BBC media editor Amol Rajan
The painful fact is, many, many people were aware of Weinstein’s behaviour for years. He was, as the saying goes, hiding in plain sight, no doubt protected to some extent by his friendships with famous people and his ability to hand out internships to the likes of Malia Obama (who as far as we know was treated with the utmost civility). That he was a major supporter of Hillary Clinton will have done him little harm, too.
Weinstein was the kind of man who used his power to be a gateway to both financial riches and fame: he controlled access to huge audiences, with all the money that can bring. If some of the claims made by actresses are true, it may be that Weinstein was – unforgivably – allowed to get away with it because of his power. Not just his power to make people very rich; also, his power to make them very famous.