Helena Bonham Carter On Harvey Weinstein, #MeToo & The Difficulties Surrounding Eleanor Riese Drama ’55 Steps’

Helena Bonham Carter has lifted the lid on a number of controversial subjects including her relationship with Harvey Weinstein, #MeToo and the difficulties surrounding her latest film, 55 Steps.

In an interview with The Guardian, the Fight Club star called Weinstein a “bully” and said that she thought his behavior over the years was “chilling” but added that she never thought it would come back to haunt him.

“I found the way he treated certain people chilling – without any kind of respect. There were many times I disagreed with the way he behaved, and I don’t mean sexually,” she said. “There were times when Harvey asked me to do certain things, and I said no. I knew I was running a thin line. Standing up to him wasn’t an easy thing to do because I knew I could potentially lose work.”

One example she gave of working with Weinstein was on Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s The Young and Prodigious TS Spivet, the 2013 film that the disgraced movie mogul refused to give a wide release to after the director would not re-cut it.  “Harvey wanted me to tell Jeunet to change it. There is a scene in which he hitchhikes and Harvey said as soon as that kid gets into a truck everyone will think the truck driver is a child molester and all the kids in America will be freaked out. I said: ‘I don’t think you’re right, and I’m not going to tell Jean-Pierre Jeunet I know better than him.’ [Harvey said] ‘You’ve got to tell that arrogant asshole he’s being a shit, he doesn’t know the American market like I do.’ I found it revolting.”

Bonham Carter said that she “was aware” that certain actresses had had sex with him “but I thought it was consensual”.  She added: “Nobody is wholly bad and nobody is wholly good. He was very clever. There are a lot of reasons he was very powerful. He knew how to get you Oscar nominations. Both my nominations are due to him. And he had great taste in films.”

She believes that the #MeToo movement was “definitely a good thing”. “Any kind of abuse is not on. But I think one has to be careful. You have to be absolutely rigorous about what somebody has done to stand up and accuse them. You have to honour #MeToo.”

In the interview, Bonham Carter was largely promoting 55 Steps, the film about Eleanor Riese, a psychiatric patient who successfully fought for the right to refuse antipsychotic drugs, which she starred in alongside Hilary Swank and Jeffrey Tambor and also exec produced. Bonham Carter stars as Riese and Swank plays Colette Hughes, the pro-bono lawyer that fights for Riese and ultimately changes the system as they went all the way to the California Supreme Court. Transparent’s Tambor plays Mort Cohen, a champion of the rights of disadvantaged and marginalized individuals.

It was directed by Bille August, produced by Aloe Entertainment, Elsani Films and ChickFlick Productions and distributed by Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions.

However, despite premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2017, it was not sold. The King’s Speech star said, “It might have been something to do with Jeffrey [Tambor], who has had a whole sexual scandal drama to do with the Amazon TV series Transparent. Unfortunately that came out just at the time, and people might have thought: ‘Oh, we can’t touch it.’” However, Bonham Carter said of Tambor, who was fired from the TV drama after allegations of sexual harassment, “He has such compassion, and I don’t believe that same heart would be capable of any kind of abuse.”

She added that it was the most important and personal film of her career and was disappointed that it was not released wide. “It’s a miracle this film got made,” she said. “It’s fallen apart so many times. It was like I was carrying the baton for Eleanor. The main thing she wanted was to be heard.”

Elsewhere, Bonham Carter is set to star as Princess Margaret in seasons three and four of Netflix’s royal drama The Crown. However, the actress did not give any details about the Left Bank-produced drama. “I’m not allowed to talk about The Crown,” she added.

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