Just one day after the historic women’s protest at the Cannes Film Festival, Salma Hayek is opening up about the “palpable” shift in Hollywood because of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
Hayek was among the 82 actresses, directors, writers, and agents who protested the festival’s gender equality issues over the weekend. The group, which is part of the “50/50 by 2020” movement — a collective that aims to address the imbalance of power in Hollywood by the year 2020 — held a demonstration before the premiere of Girls of the Sun, one of just three films in competition this year directed by a woman.
Hayek and fellow actresses Cate Blanchett, Kirsten Stewart, and Helen Mirren helped kick off the rally which saw rows of women in the industry linked arm-in-arm, walking up the historic steps of the Palais des Festivals before the film’s screening. Blanchett then delivered a speech criticizing the festival and the industry at large for its lack of inclusion.
“On these steps today stand 82 women representing the number of female directors who have climbed these stairs since the first edition of the Cannes Film Festival in 1946,” Blanchett said.
“In the same period, 1688 male directors have climbed these very same stairs. In the 71 years of this world-renowned festival there have been 12 female heads of its juries. Women are not a minority in the world, yet the current state of our industry says otherwise.”
In an interview on Sunday following the headline-making protests, Hayek expanded further on why the group decided to use Cannes, and this moment in the #MeToo movement, to make their point.
As part of the Variety-Kering “Women In Motion” talks, Hayek said that a dark cloud hung over the festival in the wake of the producer’s sexual assault allegations last year.
“The men are terrified. The predators are hiding and terrified,” she said. “You feel it. It’s a very palpable atmosphere.”
Hayek shared her own experience with Weinstein in a moving essay for the New York Times last year. In the article, Hayek claimed that Weinstein had threatened her life and tried to derail her film, Frida, after she refused the producer’s unwanted sexual advances and objected to filming a gratuitous nude sex scene with a female co-star. Weinstein fought back against those allegations, saying he “didn’t recall” pressuring Hayek to act in such a scene and claimed he wasn’t on-set during filming.
Weinstein’s rebuttal came as a shock to many in the industry. Before Hayek, a bevy of other actresses had singled him out for predatory behavior and yet Weinstein chose to only address claims made by Hayek and later, Black Panther star Lupita Nyong’o.
Hayek told Variety she didn’t think that was a coincidence, saying Weinstein targeted the two women of color accusing him of sexual harassment because they were the easiest to discredit.
“He went back, attacking the two women of color, in hopes that if he could discredit us…he could discredit the rest,” Hayek said.
The actress went on to explain that she hopes the protests at Cannes and the larger work of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements can encourage women in any industry to not just get angry over their mistreatment but to use that anger to fight back.