It was the investigation that shook the entertainment world and started the #MeToo movement: on October 5, 2017 the New York Times published an article detailing years of sexual harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein. It was written by Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, two US journalists who won Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for their efforts.
Now their 2019 book, She Said, which recounts breaking the explosive story, has been made into a film, starring Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan. Here’s everything there is to know about the film that is set to be one of the most powerful releases this year.
What’s She Said about?
She Said follows Twohey and Kantor’s investigation, from when the journalists receive a tip that actor Rose McGowan was sexually assaulted by Weinstein, to their efforts to speak to further victims (most of whom, including Ashley Judd and Gwyneth Paltrow, initially wanted to be kept off the record), to batting off attempts of appeasement by Weinstein’s lawyers, to working with further victims and going to print.
It’s based on the 2019 book of the same name that was written by the journalists. The New York Times’ Susan Faludi said about the book that, “She Said reads a bit like a feminist All the President’s Men”.
Who is the team working behind the film?
The film has been directed by German director Maria Schrader who won the Primetime Emmy Award for her 2020 Netflix miniseries Unorthodox.
Dede Gardner, who has been a producer on Oscar-winning films Selma, 12 Years a Slave, Vice and Moonlight, is on the film as a producer alongside Jeremy Kleiner, who also worked on 12 Years a Slave, Moonlight and Vice. Brad Pitt, whose was dating Paltrow at the time of her assault, was also reported as being a producer on the film.
What is the release date?
She Said is set to be released in the UK on November 25.
Who is in the cast of She Said?
British actor Carey Mulligan stars as Twohey and Zoe Kazan stars as Kantor. Mulligan has been more selective with her acting roles of late, just making one film released last year – the British film about the 1939 excavation of Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, The Dig.
Kazan, meanwhile, has starred in the 2021 Netflix miniseries Clickbait, the 2022 HBO Max series The Last Movie Stars and starred in the 2021 adult animated film Cryptozoo.
Fascinatingly, when making the film, director Schrader and her team decided to ask some of the actors who made allegations against Weinstein if they would like to play themselves in the film – making for an unbelievably moving watch, but also adding further complexity to the already tricky creation process.
According to the New York Times, Judd was quick to agree to play herself in the film. She said in a statement: “I have been describing Harvey Weinstein sexually harassing me since I came downstairs into the lobby of that hotel, because my dad was waiting there for me and said he could tell something devastating had just happened to me... Playing myself in She Said is a natural evolution.”
Judd was the only actor to go on the record for the October 5 New York Times article, a decision she apparently made just hours before the story was set to go to print.
Survivors Sarah Ann Masse and Katherine Kendall also both have small parts in the film, and, in the form of a phone call with Kantor, Paltrow is also in the film (according to the Times this was a decision made by the screenwriter, rather than Paltrow).
Weinstein is played by Mike Houston, who has had roles in Boardwalk Empire, miniseries Flesh and Bone and Orange Is the New Black – but reportedly Weinstein’s face is never shown in the film.
Is it factually accurate?
The trailer describes the movie as being “inspired by actual events”. After all, months-long investigations have been truncated into the two-hour film, and despite being based on the journalists’ own book, most of the conversations between characters have been reimagined.
However, She Said, which was shot in 2021, does include the whole of a 2015 New York police sting operation recording of Weinstein harassing the Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez. Producer Gardner said to the Times: “I think it’s obviously an unusual and untraditional thing to drop a two-and-a-half minute thing into the middle of a film... but I felt like the only way to honour her properly and the profound bravery that she showed was to keep that whole.”
Zelda Perkins, who was one of Harvey Weinstein’s PAs for 20 years, was reportedly disappointed with the script when she was sent a copy – she felt they were using her story (which is given nine minutes in the film) to look at issues which were beyond the remit of her own account. Perkins was not assaulted by Weinstein, but her colleague was. She was entangled in non-disclosure agreements, but apparently reported Weinstein’s behaviour to Miramax, his company, in 1998.
How did the filmmakers approach making the film?
Making She Said was always going to be a difficult task, and so early into the process, Schrader and her team decided that there would be not be any depictions of assaults, nor would there be any naked women. Weinstein would also only feature a small amount. Schrader said to the Times: “We didn’t even have to debate it... I do not need to add another rape scene to the world.”
The process was reportedly collaborative – Gardner would spend months talking to Perkins, Schrader spent time with Judd and screenwriter Rebecca Lenkiewicz visited survivor Laura Madden in Wales. The team also worked closely with some of the people who were fundamental in bringing the news story to fruition.
What are the reviews saying?
Reviews have largely been incredibly positive. The Standard said: “She Said remains a marvel. It’s not smug or preachy and gives space to the non-glamorous figures, many of them men, who helped Twohey and Kantor in their quest,” and the New York Times said: “Little is glamorised or embellished here. (New York City has rarely looked so blah.)... She Said concentrates instead on process, prioritizing the patient accretion of testimony and corroboration.”
The film has not, however, done well at the US Box Office, being called a “flop” by Variety, after opening with a $2.2 million debut earlier in November.
She Said will be released on November 25