Many times over the years, Kate Winslet has been asked for comment on allegations against men with whom she has a working relationship. After years of staying silent, or defending her collaborators, Winslet regrets working with alleged predators, as she implied during a speech at the London Critic's Circle Film Awards. The 42-year-old expressed remorse over what she termed "poor decisions," including both the collaborations with certain filmmakers and her choice to stay silent for so long. But while the actor touched on many of the talking points of the #MeToo movement, she stopped short of citing any specific examples. And, in Winslet's case, she has several problematic connections with industry heavyweights who have been accused of assault, all of which are deserving of closer examination.
While accepting the Dilys Powell prize for excellence in film, Winslet said she'd been moved to speak by the Women's Marches that took place earlier this month. "As women around the world and from all walks of life marched last weekend," the actor shared, "I realized that I wouldn’t be able to stand here this evening and keep to myself some bitter regrets that I have about poor decisions to work with individuals with whom I wish I had not." She continued:
"It has become clear to me that by not saying anything, I might be adding to the anguish of many courageous women and men. I know we all stand together in hoping that this moment in history paves the way for a transformed future for generation upon generation to come."
In 2008, the actor worked with Harvey Weinstein on The Reader, a role which would later net her an Academy Award. Weinstein has been accused of assault and harassment by multiple women, although the producer denies all allegations of nonconsensual sex. In 2011, Winslet turned in a performance on Roman Polanski film Carnage, which was filmed outside of the United States due to Polanski's fugitive status. (He fled the country in 1977 after being indicted on six criminal counts including sex with a minor. )
Even more recently, Winslet starred in Woody Allen's latest offering, a film called Wonder Wheel which was released to Amazon on Dec. 1. Allen has been consistently and repeatedly accused of sexual assault by his adoptive daughter Dylan Farrow. She claims that he molested her as a 7-year-old, allegations that he has just as vehemently denied, claiming that Farrow was "used as a pawn for revenge" by her mother Mia.
These are allegations that go back years and working relationships that go back a decade, and this is the first time Winslet speaking up. Or, more accurately, it's her first time going on the offensive. As recently as late last year, she was on the defensive for Allen in interviews. In December, she effused over the writer-director's ability to write "memorable female characters," joking that he's "on some level a woman himself."
Months earlier, in September, her comments were even more troubling. When asked by the New York Times about her response to the allegations against Allen, the actor shared:
"Of course one thinks about it. But at the same time, I didn’t know Woody and I don’t know anything about that family. As the actor in the film, you just have to step away and say, I don’t know anything, really, and whether any of it is true or false. Having thought it all through, you put it to one side and just work with the person. Woody Allen is an incredible director. So is Roman Polanski. I had an extraordinary working experience with both of those men, and that’s the truth."
Her previous willingness to throw support behind not one but two male directors accused of sexual misconduct stands in stark contrast to her speech on Sunday. While her comments to the New York Times in September looped in the work of a man who wasn't even part of the equation, her more recent comments have been almost vague. They name no names, and thus they make no real apologies.
It's easy to pay lip service to regretting projects you've already done. What's harder is examining your culpability in the support of predatory men and the silencing of their victims. Here's hoping that Winslet is beginning to do both, and that this is just the start of a much more expansive conversation.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.