The Harvey Weinstein scandal is one of the biggest controversies to ever hit Hollywood, and its ripples will be felt for a long time to come. While the storied studio head was fired from his own company after dozens of accusations of sexual harassment and assault came out in the press, the post-Harvey landscape doesn’t simply affect movies that the Weinstein Company planned to distribute. It will also dominate the press tours of fall films involving actors who had a significant business relationship with Weinstein, while the increased push for accountability could snare stars with scandals of their own that can no longer be brushed aside so easily. Here are nine movies where the talent may have to navigate some tricky questions this fall.
Suburbicon (October 27)
Weinstein helped make Matt Damon a superstar with Good Will Hunting, so while promoting Suburbicon and his December dramedy Downsizing, Damon was already sure to be asked about the controversy. He was drawn in further, though, by the Wrap’s Sharon Waxman, who alleged that Damon called her at Weinstein’s behest years ago in an attempt to squash an unfavorable story. Waxman has since tempered the accusation somewhat — she says Damon likely had no idea what charges he was being leveraged to hush up — but the furor prompted Damon to do a damage-control Deadline interview and will likely spur more questions during the Surburbicon press tour about Weinstein incidents, which both Damon and the film’s director George Clooney claim not to have known about.
Daddy’s Home 2 (November 10)
When it comes to abhorrent behavior, has Hollywood drawn a line in the sand after the Weinstein scandal? The button-pushing inclusion of Mel Gibson in Daddy’s Home 2 will be an early test. Gibson was considered an industry pariah after his slur-laden 2006 Malibu arrest and the 2010 accusations that he assaulted his ex, but he wormed his way back into Hollywood’s good graces last year by directing the hit Hacksaw Ridge, which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Director. The press went awfully easy on Gibson last fall — perhaps Donald Trump’s path to the Oval Office was sucking all the air out of the room — but his attempt to revive a career in front of the camera may not go down as well post-Weinstein.
Murder on the Orient Express (November 10)
With an ensemble cast this stacked, you’d expect plenty of ties to Weinstein, and indeed, both Judi Dench and Penelope Cruz have won Oscars in movies the mogul distributed. (Dench has long credited Weinstein with giving her a movie career at all.) I suspect, though, that Orient Express’s most problematic cast member will be Johnny Depp, who was accused of beating ex-wife Amber Heard, and has seen his star wane precipitously in recent years; he may now be more liability than asset when it comes to domestic audiences. Depp doesn’t do much press, but Heard might be out there talking to reporters for Justice League, which introduces her Aquaman character Mera to the DC Comics cinematic universe. Speaking of which …
Justice League (November 17)
The Justice League press tour was going to be plenty difficult even before the Weinstein scandal went wide: As the movie underwent a director switch and major reshoots, rumors flew that Warner Bros. might be looking to bump an erratic Ben Affleck from his perch as Batman. Now, Affleck has been implicated in the Weinstein scandal by actress Rose McGowan, who claims the actor knew that Weinstein had assaulted her two decades ago, even though his recent statement on the matter pled naïveté. McGowan’s tweet “Ben Affleck fuck off” went viral and prompted renewed scrutiny of the actor’s own behavior; Affleck has since apologized to actress Hilarie Burton for groping her during a long-ago TRL appearance.
Needless to say, Warner Bros. has a lot to deal with here, and the studio will likely minimize Affleck’s press duties to avoid further complications. The question is whether the rest of the Justice League can keep their answers on the straight and narrow if asked to defend their co-star. Gal Gadot is perhaps the best press-trained of the bunch (if the cast’s summer Comic-Con appearance was anything to go by), but actors like Ezra Miller and Jason Momoa are uniquely freewheeling presences and it’s anybody’s guess whether they can keep the focus on their megabudget film, not Affleck’s many imbroglios (or their own resurfaced missteps).
I Love You, Daddy (November 17)
Louis C.K. has always been reluctant to address the rumors that he masturbates in front of female comics, but in the wake of the Weinstein situation, I’m not sure he’ll be able to make it through a whole press tour for his new movie with those same dodges and weaves. After all, there’s plenty of controversial stuff about the TV industry in this comedy, in which John Malkovich plays a legendary director (and rumored sex predator) who’s wooing Louis C.K.’s teenage daughter, while C.K. stars as a TV bigwig who beds an actress (Rose Byrne) seeking the lead in his new project. And that’s not to mention the scene where Charlie Day is miming masturbation as Edie Falco enters the room, which is impossible to watch without thinking of the similar accusations against the film’s maker. C.K. has often found a deferential audience in starstruck reporters, but you can’t engage with this movie without finally trying to get a straight answer out of him on these topics, especially when the industry is in the middle of a moment that interrogates how men abuse their power for sex.
Chappaquiddick (November 22)
Chappaquiddick, a movie about a prominent Democrat who covers up a growing scandal in order to continue his influential career, will surely be received differently now with Weinstein in the news. Expect reviews and think pieces that compare its central figure, Ted Kennedy (Jason Clarke) to the disgraced studio mogul, especially since plenty of people were complicit in burying the Chappaquiddick incident where Kennedy and a female staffer were in a car accident that cost the woman her life.
The Current War (November 24)
This film about the rivalry between electricity pioneers Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) was meant to be the Weinstein Company’s big Oscar hope, but it flopped in its Toronto Film Festival debut. Weinstein was said to be tinkering with the final cut of the movie even as his personal scandals intensified, but rumor has it that the company is now mulling a push of The Current War to 2018. Considering TWC’s cash-strapped state, personnel shake-ups, and potential legal issues, this fall doesn’t feel like the right time to sink a lot of money into an awards-season underperformer.
Wonder Wheel (December 1)
Kate Winslet is no stranger to working with controversial Hollywood figures: She won the Oscar for the Weinstein-distributed The Reader and starred in Roman Polanski’s comedy Carnage just a few years ago. She’ll face her trickiest press tour yet while promoting Woody Allen’s new drama Wonder Wheel, since a renewed focus on the sexual-assault accusations against Allen dominated last year’s Cafe Society press rounds, and that demand for redress hasn’t gone away. Much like I Love You, Daddy, which seems to have patterned its Malkovich character on Allen, Wonder Wheel engages with certain themes and plot points that almost demand you to reexamine Allen’s personal history: Decades after Allen left his partner Mia Farrow for her daughter Soon-Yi, Wonder Wheel tracks a woman who may lose the man she has romantic designs on to her own stepdaughter.
I, Tonya (December 8)
After a well-received Toronto Film Festival debut, this dark Margot Robbie comedy about figure skater Tonya Harding leapt into the awards-season fray, and Allison Janney as Harding’s mother is thought to be this year’s front-runner for Best Supporting Actress. I, Tonya will be distributed by newcomer shingle Neon, but that company is mired in controversy thanks to co-founder Tim League, who created the Alamo Drafthouse theater chain and has been accused of enabling controversial figures like Devin Faraci and Harry Knowles, and looking the other way when it comes to sexual harassment. League has not stepped down from either post and has had to issue multiple statements on these matters; since I, Tonya features plenty of abuse against women, expect these topics to be on the table.