Kathy Bates on MeToo: 'In my day, if you went to a guy’s hotel room, you knew why you were going'

Tom Beasley
·Contributor
Kathy Bates attends the 2020 National Board Of Review Gala on January 08, 2020. (Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage)
Kathy Bates attends the 2020 National Board Of Review Gala on January 08, 2020. (Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage)

Oscar-winning actress Kathy Bates has weighed in on the era of #MeToo, saying that “times were different” when she was coming up in the business and a lot of “casting couch” encounters were “consensual”.

The veteran actor said the landscape of the industry looked very different in her early career — years before allegations against Harvey Weinstein sent shockwaves through Hollywood.

Read more: Campaigners slam Weinstein settlement offer

The 71-year-old Richard Jewell star told The Guardian she had a “confession” to make “about people like Weinstein and the casting couch and all of that”.

Bates said: “In my day, if you went up to a guy’s hotel room, you knew exactly why you were going and in those days it was consensual.

“Times were different, but I really support the women who are coming forward now and I’m not happy about the men who are being accused falsely – but the ones who deserve all they’re getting, my feeling is hey, go for it.”

Kathy Bates in 'Richard Jewell'. (Credit: Claire Folger/Warner Bros)
Kathy Bates in 'Richard Jewell'. (Credit: Claire Folger/Warner Bros)

Since multiple women came forward to make allegations against prominent producer Weinstein in October 2017, the #MeToo movement has begun, with celebrities volunteering their own experiences of sexual harassment within the industry.

Prominent Hollywood figures including Kevin Spacey, Max Landis and Bryan Singer have faced an array of allegations.

Read more: Michelle Pfeiffer reveals #MeToo experience

The movement has not, however, been greeted with open arms by the entire movie industry with 100 French women — including Oscar nominee Catherine Deneuve — signing an open letter speaking out against the campaign.

“Men have been punished summarily, forced out of their jobs when all they did was touch someone’s knee or try to steal a kiss,” the letter said.

Feminist writer Germaine Greer also criticised Weinstein’s accusers, telling the Sydney Morning Herald: “What makes it different is when the man has economic power, as Harvey Weinstein has. But if you spread your legs because he said 'be nice to me and I'll give you a job in a movie' then I'm afraid that's tantamount to consent, and it's too late now to start whingeing about that.”

Judi Dench, meanwhile, described Spacey as a “good friend” and said she “can’t approve” of the decision to remove him from kidnap drama All the Money in the World.

Harvey Weinstein leaves a Manhattan courthouse after a second day of jury selection for his trial on rape and sexual assault charges. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Harvey Weinstein leaves a Manhattan courthouse after a second day of jury selection for his trial on rape and sexual assault charges. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Bates is Oscar nominated for her role as the mother of the title character in Clint Eastwood’s drama Richard Jewell.

Jewell, played in the movie by I, Tonya actor Paul Walter Hauser, was initially hailed as a hero for limiting the damage caused by the 1996 Olympic Park bombing, but then became the prime suspect in the FBI investigation.

The film itself has been criticised for “sexist” attitudes, with some calling for a boycott over the film’s portrayal of real-life journalist Kathy Scruggs — played by Olivia Wilde — as someone willing to trade sex for story tips.

Read more: Olivia Wilde defends Richard Jewell

Bates will compete for Best Supporting Actress against Bombshell star Margot Robbie, Scarlett Johansson for Jojo Rabbit, Florence Pugh for Little Women and current favourite Laura Dern for Marriage Story.

A Hollywood icon with almost 50 years in the business, Bates won the Oscar for Best Actress in 1991 for her work as unstable literary superfan Annie Wilkes in the film adaptation of Stephen King’s Misery.