Salma Hayek Details Weinstein Abuse in the Making of Frida: ‘He Demanded Full-Frontal Nudity’

Getty Images

Two months after the New York Times and The New Yorker broke the story of Harvey Weinstein’s decades-long use of power to sexually harass and assault women in Hollywood, Salma Hayek has come forward to share her horrific backstory in the filming of Frida.

MORE: Lupita Nyong’o Reveals She Was Sexually Harassed by Harvey Weinstein

In her essay to the New York Times, “Harvey Weinstein is My Monster Too,” Hayek asks the question “Why do we have to fight tooth and nail to maintain our dignity?” This is exactly what Hayek had to go through. For years, Harvey Weinstein sexually harassed Hayek to the point that in an attack of fury he screamed, “I will kill you, don’t think I can’t.”

Those words are not hard to forget but for Hayek, who previously felt she had moved past that painful episode in her life, decided to share her story of abuse by Weinstein in the production of the 2002 biopic film Frida.

The story of the iconic Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo, was so important to Hayek, not only as a Mexican-American actress but because similar to Frida, she was combating stereotypes while pursuing her art in a field that was male-dominated. Kahlo was overshadowed by her husband, Diego Rivera, and Hayek faced obstacles in her acting career in a field where not a lot of Latina actresses were being represented in Hollywood, “My greatest ambition was to tell her story,” wrote Hayek.

However, when Hayek kept saying “No” to Weinstein’s disgusting requests, no to letting him watch her take a shower, letting him give her a massage, letting a naked friend of his give her a message, letting him give her oral sex, Weinstein blackmailed Hayek. After working so hard on the movie, Weinstein threatened to give the role to another actress. Then when Hayek won a legal battle to continue the movie only after agreeing to his strict and impossible tasks he still demanded a sex scene in the film.

“It was clear to me he would never let me finish this movie without him having his fantasy one way or another. There was no room for negotiation. I had to say yes.” The vibrant and complicated life of Frida Kahlo was sexualized by Weinstein because he felt the only way the movie would be successful was to use Hayek as a sex appeal.

On the day of the scene, Hayek, who believed this would be the only way to save the movie, experienced a nervous breakdown “for the first and last time” in her career. “It was not because I would be naked with another woman. It was because I would be naked with her for Harvey Weinstein. But I could not tell them then.”

Even after all of this, Weinstein, being the relentless abuser, threatened not to show the film in theatres if the film didn’t score over an 80 - a score that less than 10 percent of films achieved in their first screening. The film scored 85 and Weinstein went on to win six Academy Award nominations for the film, including best actress, two Oscars, and a box office success that no one could have predicted, while Hayek went on to finish part of her contract and play minor supporting roles for Miramax. “I still didn’t see any joy,” she wrote.

So again the question of "Why women, especially female artists, have to go to war to tell our stories?" is brought to mind. Hayek believes it’s because we still do not have enough women in the film industry. Between 2007 and 2016, only four percent of directors were female and 80 percent of those got the chance to make only one film.

PLUS: Salma Hayek As A White Man "Would Have Been Bigger Than Harvey Weinstein," Says Alfred Molina

Will this percentage rise in the coming years? One thing is for sure, we are thankful for brave women from Frida Kahlo to Salma Hayek, who continued to pursue their art.