Just because Harvey Weinstein is laying low on $1 million bail doesn’t mean he’s not poking his nose into Hollywood’s trade papers. Twenty years after Shakespeare in Love’s historic Oscar wins, Variety interviewed Gwyneth Paltrow about the night she won Best Actress. In passing, Paltrow described working on the movie with Weinstein, whom she has accused of sexually harassing her: “At the last minute, Harvey wanted Ben Affleck to take over and play Shakespeare. I said, ‘No, you can’t do that. You have to have an English person,’” Paltrow said. Weinstein relented, and Affleck played a smaller role as actor Ned Alleyn.
Not so, says Weinstein, in a rare statement issued through his rep. “Gwyneth Paltrow is an excellent actor and a fantastic person, who does so well when on the right project,” he said. “The only other contenders for the role of Will Shakespeare were Russell Crowe and Ethan Hawke, no one else. Ben Affleck did a terrific job as Ned Alleyn, which is the role he was considered for.” Despite Weinstein saying that he did not suggest Affleck as the male lead, both Shakespeare in Love’s director and producer confirmed to Variety that Weinstein did indeed suggest Affleck as the male lead.
And then, in a completely normal and not at all bizarre move, Weinstein’s current rep Juda Engelmayer sent Variety this:
“Just to ask — why wouldn’t you ask us anything here. When will the media go around about shit about Harvey fade out and when will actual reporting and investigating become something revered again? When Paltrow says, ‘A movie is not going to be successful if it’s not a good movie, not like that,’ you take it as gospel, but when someone accuses Harvey of shenanigans the same sentiment is ignored in place of something more sinister, why is that? Just as a good movie is a good movie, if someone is a good actor, you can’t keep her or him down. If someone is a box office draw, a good agency and good actor will get chosen for a role — blacklisting someone is just a bullshit idea convenient to beat the drum against Weinstein with.”
Weinstein has denied all allegations of assault and nonconsensual sex. His sexual-assault trial will begin in New York City in June, which gives him about four more months to fuss about Shakespeare in Love 20 years too late.