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Jane Fonda 'ashamed' she didn't speak up about Harvey Weinstein sooner

 (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Hollywood legend Jane Fonda has revealed that she became privy to Harvey Weinstein's reputed behavior about a year ago when actress Rosanna Arquette told her of an encounter she had with the former Weinstein Co. co-chairman.

Fonda, speaking to CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Thursday, said that she was "proud it's coming out and that fellow actors are speaking up" but that she was "ashamed" she didn't say anything about the disgraced movie producer right then.

"I was not that bold," the two-time Oscar winner said, declining to share details of Arquette's encounter. "I guess it hadn't happened to me, and so I didn't feel that it was my place."

FULL COVERAGE: The Harvey Weinstein scandal

Arquette, who starred in the Weinstein-produced "Pulp Fiction" while he was still running Miramax, told the New Yorker that Weinstein placed her hand on his erect penis in the early 1990s when she went to his hotel room to get a script. She and several other women -- from young actresses to A-listers -- have come forward with additional sordid stories recalling the times they've been "Harveyed."

Fonda, an avid women's rights advocate, said that she wasn't personally assaulted by Weinstein because she met him when she was much older, but was well aware of his reputation and the mindset that men like him have.

"It's not only sexual predation. ... These tend to be men who treat other people not well. Not people they need. Not people like Meryl Streep or me in my old age. He didn't treat the people that worked with him well. He was just not a nice person. Although he could be nice when he needed to," she said. 

Though Weinstein's alleged behavior has been called an open secret in Hollywood, Fonda said she wasn't really that aware of it. She also said it wasn't unique to her industry.

"Let's not think this is some unique, horrific [incident]. This goes on all the time," she said. "It's this male entitlement -- in Hollywood, and everywhere. In offices and businesses all over the world, in bars, and restaurants and stores, women are assaulted, abused, harassed and seen for just being sexual objects, there for a man's desire, instead of as whole human beings."

She also shared her own story of harassment at the hands of a director when she was in her 20s. On her first French film, the director, whom she did not name, flew to Los Angeles to pitch her the story. He told her that her character had to have an orgasm and he really needed to know "what kind of orgasms" she had, propositioning her to sleep with him.

She turned him down and got the part anyway. (A little bit of sleuthing reveals that Fonda starred in 1964's "Joy House," directed by French director René Clément.)

"You have to say no," Fonda advised young actresses who find themselves in similar situations. "You have to understand that you have control over your body and that you have to say no. And you have to talk and tell when something like that happens. If we all talked and told, then they'd all be afraid to do it, I think. I hope."

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