Lupita Nyong’o is the latest celebrity to claim Harvey Weinstein sexually harassed her, alleging he tried to “take off his pants” in front of her after asking if he could give her a massage.
The 12 Years a Slave star is the latest star to accuse the Hollywood producer of sexual harassment, alleging that when she refused his request she offered to massage him instead, and while doing so he later attempted to remove his trousers, all while his kids were in the same building.
Weinstein invited the 34-year-old star to his home in Westport, Connecticut, to watch a screening of a competitor’s movie, but 15 minutes in she claims he led her to his bedroom and asked if he could give her a rub down.
In a piece for The New York Times, she wrote: “Weinstein led me into a bedroom – his bedroom – and announced that he wanted to give me a massage. I thought he was joking at first. He was not. For the first time since I met him, I felt unsafe. I panicked a little and thought quickly to offer to give him one instead: It would allow me to be in control physically, to know exactly where his hands were at all times.
“I began to massage his back to buy myself time to figure out how to extricate myself from this undesirable situation. Before long he said he wanted to take off his pants. I told him not to do that and informed him that it would make me extremely uncomfortable. He got up anyway to do so and I headed for the door, saying that I was not at all comfortable with that. ‘If we’re not going to watch the film, I really should head back to school,’ I said.”
Before the alleged incident, the pair had lunch during which Nyong’o claims she ordered a juice but Weinstein insisted she have a vodka and branded her “stubborn” when she refused to do so.
She wrote: “I declined and said I wanted the juice. We went back and forth until finally he turned to the waiter and said, ‘Get her what I tell you to get her. I’m the one paying the bill.’ I smiled and remained silent. The waiter left and returned with a vodka and diet soda for me. He placed it on the table beside my water. I drank the water. Weinsteintold me that I needed to drink the vodka and diet soda. I informed him that I would not.”
Following the alleged “massage incident”, she admitted she “shelved it” in her mind as an “awkward moment”.
She later attended a staged reading of his show Finding Neverland with two of her male friends, and then a screening of W.E. on her own.
Afterwards, the pair went to the Tribeca Grill for a meal and she alleges he propositioned her once again but she refused and ended up leaving the restaurant without even eating.
She wrote: “Before the starters arrived, he announced, ‘Let’s cut to the chase. I have a private room upstairs where we can have the rest of our meal.’ I was stunned. I told him I preferred to eat in the restaurant. He told me not to be so naïve. If I wanted to be an actress, then I had to be willing to do this sort of thing. He said he had dated Famous Actress X and Y and look where that had gotten them.
“I was silent for a while before I mustered up the courage to politely decline his offer. ‘You have no idea what you are passing up,’ he said. ‘With all due respect, I would not be able to sleep at night if I did what you are asking, so I must pass,’ I replied.”
When she checked afterwards to see if the pair were “good”, she claims he replied: “‘I don’t know about your career, but you’ll be fine.’ ”
Nyong’o later met Weinstein at an after-party following a premiere of 12 Years a Slave and claims he told her he “was ashamed of his actions and he promised to respect me moving forward”, but she promised herself she would never work with him.
In 2014, she was offered a role in a Weinstein Company movie but rejected the part.
The star, who claims before ever meeting the movie mogul she was advised to “keep Weinstein in your corner” but told he can “be a bully”, admits she “felt sick in the pit of my stomach” while recalling the experiences and a “flare of rage” that the alleged incidents involving her were not “unique”.
Weinstein has been accused of sexual harassment by more than 40 women over a 30-year period. Following the allegations, he has been fired from The Weinstein Company, and his wife, Georgina Chapman has left him.
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