Friday October 13, 2017

'He really took something from me': Montreal actress Erika Rosenbaum says Harvey Weinstein assaulted her

Montreal actress Erika Rosenbaum, 37, says there were three separate instances in her 20s where Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein aggressively came on to her.

Montreal actress Erika Rosenbaum, 37, says there were three separate instances in her 20s where Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein aggressively came on to her. (Reisler Talent Agency)

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Warning:  This story contains disturbing details.

As the Harvey Weinstein scandal ripples through the film industry, a Montreal woman joins the growing number of women accusing the Hollywood movie mogul of sexual misconduct.

In an interview with The Current's Friday host Piya Chattopadhyay, actress Erika Rosenbaum, 37, says she first met Weinstein in her 20s in Los Angeles, which led to several "inappropriate" meetings with the film producer that left her with feelings of confusion, shame and powerlessness.

'I thought that something I had done had provoked this behaviour in him and so I was deeply guilty for whatever I had done to allow this to happen.'

Rosenbaum tells Chattopadhyay why she kept quiet about Weinstein until now.  Here is part of their conversation.

Piya Chattopadhyay: Tell me about the first time you met Harvey Weinstein. 

Erika Rosenbaum: I was a very young actor, new to Los Angeles, and I was there with really very little qualifications or opportunities. I had very little money. I did not have an agent ...  

So I was at a party and I met him and I didn't really know much about him at the time. He had to explain to me who he was. And I think he got a kick out of my candor and the sort of small-town girl that I was at the time ...

LA Premiere Of "DIOR & I" - Arrivals

Actress Rose McGowan has alleged that Harvey Weinstein raped her. She is one of many women in Hollywood accusing the producer of sexual harassment. (Richard Shotwell/Associated Press)

I just wanted to impress him so that if I was in an audition room and he was on the other side of the table, he would remember me and I would have an advantage.

'He was not subtle in talking about the careers that he had helped to build, and he wasn't subtle about telling me about people who he had helped to take down either.' 

PC: And so you meet this really powerful producer and, as you say, you tried to charm him ... What happens then?

ER: Well, he was very encouraging. He really responded to me and my stories and he told me right away that he had an eye for talent, that he was never wrong and that I was going to do really well in Los Angeles.

He was not subtle in talking about the careers that he had helped to build, and he wasn't subtle about telling me about people who he had helped to take down either. 

Looking back I realized that he was, sort of, setting me up and flexing his power a little bit ...

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I felt there was going to be a series of opportunities that were at my feet because I'd met the great and powerful Harvey Weinstein, and that's not exactly how it went.

I met him a couple of times over the years and although he behaved inappropriately, I was able to somehow justify seeing him again because it was never bad enough, or perhaps my fear of him was big enough. 

'Anything would have helped at that point. I was really a nobody.'

PC: When do you see him next? How does that even happen?

ER: Well, he tells me that we're going to have a meeting and we're going to talk about what he can do for my career. I leave that night thinking this is it, you know, I have this guy in my corner, and I really believed him that he was going to be a help to me ...

Harvey Weinstein

Harvey Weinstein was fired from The Weinstein Company over the weekend. (John Carucci/Associated Press)

Anything would have helped at that point. I was really a nobody ... 

It seems very professional. It seems legitimate. You have an assistant making a business arrangement for you. 

I'm thinking I'm safe. I'm fine. But at the same time, I'm a young girl, I'm not an idiot and alarm bells are going off and that I'm walking into a cliche ...

'I just remember that feeling of having to fight off an invader, but I had to do it in a friendly way because I was terrified to anger this man.'

The assistant leaves and the door closes and then I am at the mercy of this person. He very quickly changed his tone once I'd entered the hotel room ... he put an arm around me and started, as if he was a boyfriend all of a sudden, started trying to be intimate with me ... 

I just remember that feeling of having to fight off an invader, but I had to do it in a friendly way because I was terrified to anger this man ...

AFP_OI5TV

The New Yorker's investigation into Weinstein's conduct included three accusations of rape, one from Italian actress and filmmaker Asia Argento. (Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images)

It's amazing to me the efforts that I've made to not embarrass this person who's acting so unethically ... He wasn't being outright violent with me, he wasn't holding me down, he was just making a move and I didn't want it. So he settled for - how about you just give me a massage ... And that seemed the least offensive way for me to get out of the room. So I literally massaged his shoulders in order to get out. 

And I left feeling very disgusted and confused, but I felt so implicit in this happening ... 

I thought that something I had done had provoked this behaviour in him and so I was deeply guilty for whatever I had done to allow this to happen.

I had not told anyone because I was embarrassed.

PC: So you meet Harvey Weinstein a couple years later then.

ER: His casting director was going to meet with me in New York … I really thought that was going to be an opportunity, and that not only was I going to have this opportunity, but I didn't have to see him.

I was still afraid of this guy, but I knew that I had stayed on his good side. I'd touched base … He'd been very cordial and professional. 

And I thought that was a glitch. That was a weird night in L.A. I'm going to chalk it up to a wild experience from my youth ...

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Actress Gwyneth Paltrow tells the New York Times that Weinstein attempted to lure her into giving him a massage in a hotel room. She was 22. (Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

This is a new opportunity. His casting director's a woman and I'm not even going to see him ...

I had a legitimate, exciting meeting. And then on my way out, I got a text from his assistant saying that Harvey wants to see you before you get on the plane.

So I once again felt trapped. And he was once again inappropriate.

'It's Harvey Weinstein. I can't say no to him.'

PC: Where did you meet him?

ER: I met him at his office. I think it was in Tribeca or Soho. He had an office full of people but he led me to a quiet office and closed the door behind us. 

And once again, I went there willingly … It's Harvey Weinstein. I can't say no to him and then I had to do this dance once again of trying not to anger him while he tried  to be intimate with me.

It was like I was on a date that I had not agreed to just like the first time. 

RelatedMontreal actress Erika Rosenbaum says Harvey Weinstein harassed, assaulted her

It was the lack of agreement that I found so shocking because knowing who he was, and knowing the power he had — he's not an idiot — he had to have known that there's nowhere for me to go.

And so he violates you simply by making that advance in such an aggressive way …

He's right up in my face and he's got his arms around me and so I have to talk my way out of it without angering him again, and I make excuses… and I whisper because I don't want the people outside the office to hear me fighting him off.

Harvey Weinstein Gloria Allred

Attorney Gloria Allred, right, speaks during a Los Angeles news conference, Oct. 11, alongside her client Louisette Geiss, an alleged sexual harassment victim of Harvey Weinstein. (Richard Vogel/Associated Press)

So I'm like covering for him even as he's doing it … It's self-preservation and saving my career because he could make it or break it.

PC: You met with Harvey Weinstein in Toronto during TIFF. What happened that time?

ER: He was once again really encouraging when we were in public … introduced me to whoever he was talking to like I was a legitimate member of the community, treated me with respect, and said, you know, can you tell my assistant that we need to talk tomorrow …

'He really took something from me.' 

PC: So you take the meeting with Weinstein ...

ER: His assistant is lovely … but once again the meeting is changed … she says we're up at the suite, we're late for dinner, it's gonna have to be brief.

I'm thinking there's a female in the room … there's no way this can go badly, and like a sucker, I go and meet him in a hotel room again and the assistant lets me in and leaves. 

As soon as door closes behind me ... he's clearly upset, and he comes to the door, comes out of the bathroom wearing only a dress shirt …

So I'm already on edge because I'm alone in this room with him, and he's wearing no pants. And I immediately start making excuses to leave…   

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Canadian-born actor Anna Paquin welcomed any men who wish to show their support under the trending hash tag WomenBoycottTwitter. (CBC)

This angers him. 

And he asks me to come to the washroom with him while he gets ready … and I flat out say I'm not staying while you take a shower ...

He was pissed that I was trying to back out of it … I follow him to the opened door of the bathroom and the toilet seat has been broken like a giant smashed it ...

He grabs me by — he holds me by the back of the neck and faces me to the mirror and very quietly tells me that he just wants to look at me and he starts to masturbate standing behind me.

'I was ashamed.'

And I stood there and I did nothing.

I think I was just too shocked to move or say anything ... 

He really took something from me.

PC: I'm sorry … when you leave, do you tell anyone?

ER: No one. I never told anyone.

PC: Why not?

ER: I was ashamed … telling this story – it sounds insane to me, like it sounds like you have to be either so dumb that you don't see it coming or really just very opportunistic ... And I was neither of those things. So telling the story, it really sounds crazy even to me.

PC: Are you ok?

ER: I am ok. Yeah. Yeah, I'm ok. 

I'm hopeful that these stories, as uncomfortable as they are to share, that they will help people who don't necessarily have the privilege that I've had and if I can change the game for even one person then I'm happy that it's not a secret anymore.

* This transcript was edited for clarity and length.*

Listen to the full conversation near the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Pacinthe Mattar.