Sharing her side. Harvey Weinstein’s former assistant Zelda Perkins opened up about her time working for the disgraced Hollywood exec in her first televised interview with BBC’s Newsnight on Tuesday, Dec. 19. According to Zelda, she wasn’t able to openly discuss her interactions with the “repulsive monster” and “master manipulator” for an extended period of time because of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) she signed years ago.
Zelda, who worked for Harvey, 65, in the UK office of Miramax Films in the ‘90s, initially broke her silence this past October, when she alleged to the Financial Times that the powerful producer attempted to rape her colleague during the Venice Film Festival in 1998. (Harvey has vehemently denied any allegations of nonconsensual sex with the more than 60 women who have accused him of sexual assault.)
“The last 19 years have been distressing, where I’ve not been allowed to speak, where I’ve not been allowed to be myself,” Zelda said on Nightnews, adding that she signed the NDA when she was 24 and was given a £125,000 ($168,000 U.S.) buyout to stay quiet. “It’s not just distressing for me, but for lots of women who have not been able to own their past, and for many of them, their trauma. Although the process I went through was legal, it was immoral.”
Zelda went on to say that she was never even given a copy of her agreement, but she still made several attempts to get out of it. “There were a couple of occasions where I made attempts to circumnavigate my agreement, but it was almost impossible for me,” she said. “I understand that non-disclosure agreements have a place in society for both sides, but it’s really important that legislation is changed around how these agreements are regulated. You cannot have a legal document that protects a criminal. This isn’t someone who sold you a dodgy car.”
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“You can’t change the Harvey Weinsteins of the world. There are always going to be people that follow the darker side of their character,” she continued, “but if the rules and laws that we have to protect ourselves enable that, there’s no point in having them.”
During her interview with Nightnews, Zelda recounted the moment her unnamed colleague told her that Harvey had tried to rape her. “She was shaking, very distressed, and clearly in shock,” Zelda said. “She didn’t want anybody to know and was absolutely terrified of the consequences. I spoke with her and tried to calm her down before confronting Harvey face to face.”
“We returned to the UK and I spoke to my only senior in the Miramax offices and she suggested I got a lawyer so we both resigned from the company, [feeling] constructively dismissed because of his behavior,” she recalled. “The lawyers made it clear that we didn’t have many options because we hadn’t gone to the police when we were in Venice and we didn’t have any physical evidence.”
After being made to feel like they would undoubtedly lose a legal battle with Harvey, both women agreed to sign gag orders. “Ultimately, it would be two under-25 women’s word against Harvey Weinstein, Miramax and essentially the Disney company,” said Zelda, who also revealed that the gag orders instructed Harvey to attend therapy sessions for his behavior. However, she was never told if he ever actually saw a therapist.
In response to Zelda’s interview, Harvey’s lawyer Paul Tweed issued a statement to CBS News: “Mr. Weinstein categorically denies engaging in any nonconsensual conduct or alleged threatening behavior and will seek the protection of the UK or Irish Courts if you proceed with the broadcast of these allegations.”