In the aftermath of sexual harassment and assault allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein, more women in the film industry have come forward with their own horror stories of alleged misconduct in Hollywood.
Speaking at Elle’s Women in Hollywood event on Monday night, Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Lawrence shared their experiences in the early days of their respective careers. Witherspoon said she was sexually assaulted by a director when she was a teenager.
“[I feel] true disgust at the director who assaulted me when I was 16 years old and anger that I felt at the agents and the producers who made me feel that silence was a condition of my employment,” Witherspoon said. “I wish I could tell you that that was an isolated incident in my career, but sadly, it wasn’t. I’ve had multiple experiences of harassment and sexual assault, and I don’t speak about them very often, but after hearing all the stories these past few days and hearing these brave women speak up tonight, the things that we’re kind of told to sweep under the rug and not talk about, it’s made me want to speak up and speak up loudly because I felt less alone this week than I’ve ever felt in my entire career.”
Lawrence said she was once required to do a “nude lineup” with other, “much thinner” women for a role and that a female producer told her she should “use the naked photos of myself as inspiration for my diet,” while on a different occasion a male producer described her as “perfectly fuckable.” “I let myself be treated a certain way because I felt like I had to for my career,” she added.
Lawrence and Witherspoon join a chorus of actresses who have been relaying their experiences of sexual harassment and assault in the industry in the wake of the Weinstein scandal. On Sunday, Alyssa Milano started the hashtag #MeToo as way for women to share their stories and come together in solidarity. Since then, actresses such as Debra Messing, Anna Paquin, Evan Rachel Wood, Rosario Dawson, and Gabrielle Union—not to mention countless non-celebrities—have used the phrase.
On Monday night, America Ferrera became the latest actress to join the movement, revealing on Instagram that she was sexually assaulted when she was a child.
“I told no one and lived with the shame and guilt thinking all along that I, a 9 year old child, was somehow responsible for the actions of a grown man,” Ferrera wrote. “Ladies, let’s break the silence so the next generation of girls won’t have to live with this bullshit.”
Icelandic pop star Björk, meanwhile, has stood her ground in accusing Danish director Lars von Trier of sexually harassing her during the filming of 2000’s Dancer in the Dark. Though not calling von Trier out by name, she initially accused a Danish director of sexually harassing her on set in a Facebook post Sunday. “It was extremely clear to me when i walked into the actresses profession that my humiliation and role as a lesser sexually harassed being was the norm and set in stone with the director and a staff of dozens who enabled it and encouraged it,” she wrote. Since Björk has worked with only one Danish director, pinpointing who she was referring to wasn’t difficult, and von Trier refuted the allegations to a Danish newspaper.
Following von Trier’s denial, Björk offered more details on her Facebook page Tuesday, highlighting the ways the director allegedly harassed her and detailing a story in which von Trier threatened to climb into her hotel room through the balcony. “This was what finally woke me up to the severity of all this and made me stand my ground,” she wrote. “Let’s break this curse.”