London: Jane Fonda, the two-time Academy Award winning actress, on Thursday said she knew of the accusations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and “should’ve been braver” in voicing the claims.
In an interview with the BBC’s “Hardtalk” programme to air next Monday, she said Weinstein had been able to sexually harass women for decades “because he’s powerful”.
A series of women, including celebrities Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow, have come forward to accuse Weinstein of sexual harassment allegations, while several actresses have alleged he raped them.
Weinstein has denied that any of the incidents were non-consensual.
Fonda admitted she had first heard about the allegations a year ago, but did not publicly speak out to protect his accusers’ privacy.
She said she now regretted staying silent. “I should’ve been braver and I think that from now on I will be when I hear such stories,” Fonda told a live audience, including several members of Britain’s parliament, gathered for the interview.
“Thank God it’s being talked about,” the actress said, praising those who had come forward and calling for greater protection for them.
“We have to start believing these women... and protecting them,” she said.
“You’re scared because you feel like... you’ll never work again because they have so much influence... and you won’t be believed,” she added.
The actress, who rose to global prominence in the 1960s starring in films such as “Barefoot in the Park”, and as an iconic figure in the anti-Vietnam War movement, revealed she had faced sexual harassment from an unnamed French director when she was aged 21.
Fonda said the director had propositioned her ahead of a role, claiming: “he had to find out what kind of orgasms she had”.
“I got hired even though I didn’t give him what he wanted,” she recounted, noting she had nonetheless kept quiet about the proposition.
A long-time campaigner for women’s rights, Fonda also sought to focus the spotlight beyond Hollywood, noting the similar accusations levelled at other public figures like US President Donald Trump and former International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
“I’m hoping that with this coming out about Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, and then (the man) who’s currently our president, that men will not feel they can get away with it,” she said.