Lost In The Mail

My Harvey story is different, mostly because of timing. I was in one of the first films that Weinstein produced. I accepted a supporting role in a small movie based on Loser Takes All, the short novel by Graham Greene. I was twenty years old. The idea of playing a supporting role in a small British movie appealed to me after having just made a big splash in the John Hughes movies. Plus, I was an enormous fan of Greene’s writing. When we began filming, in France, I was gallery-1445357085-gettyimages-111614916warned about the producer, but I had never heard of him and had no reason to fear him.

Thankfully, I wasn’t cajoled into a taxi, nor did I have to turn down giving or getting a massage. I was lucky. Or perhaps it was because, at that moment in time, I was the one with more power. The English Patient, Weinstein’s first Best Picture winner, was still a few years away. The worst I had to contend with was performing new pages that Harvey had someone else write, which were not in the script; my co-star, Robert Lindsay, and I had signed off to do a film adapted and directed by one person, and then were essentially asked to turn our backs on him and film scenes that were not what we had agreed to. We hadn’t even finished filming, and the movie was already being taken away from the director.

After that, the film was completely taken away, recut, and retitled. Weinstein named it Strike It Rich, because he insisted that Americans couldn’t stand to have the word “loser” in a title. He also changed the poster: he had my head stuck onto another body, dressed in a form-fitting, nineteen-fifties-pinup-style dress, with a hand reaching out to accept a diamond, like Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. I wouldn’t have posed for a picture like that, since it had nothing to do with the character I portrayed; it struck me as ridiculous false advertising. (I was always a little mystified that Harvey had a reputation as a great tastemaker when he seemed so noticeably lacking in taste himself. But he did have a knack for hiring people who had it, and I figured that’s what passes for taste in Hollywood.) In any case, the film tanked. I had a percentage of the gross, and, as it turned out, you still make money if you have a gross percentage. I found this out about a year later, when my lawyer called to tell me that I had been denied the percentage owed to me. She asked if it was O.K. if she went after the Weinsteins. I ended up suing them for the money, which I got, and I never worked with Harvey or the company again.

While my own Harvey story may be different, I have had plenty of Harveys of my own over the years, enough to feel a sickening shock of recognition. When I was thirteen, a fifty-year-old crew member told me that he would teach me to dance, and then proceeded to push against me with an erection. When I was fourteen, a married film director stuck his tongue in my mouth on set. At a time when I was trying to figure out what it meant to become a sexually viable young woman, at every turn some older guy tried to help speed up the process. And all this went on despite my having very protective parents who did their best to shield me.

In my twenties, I was blindsided during an audition when I was asked by the director, in a somewhat rhetorical manner, to let the lead actor put a dog collar around my neck. This was not remotely in the pages I had studied; I could not even fathom how it made sense in the story. The actor was a friend of mine, and I looked in his eyes with panic. He looked back at me with an “I’m really sorry” expression on his face as his hands reached out toward my neck. I don’t know if the collar ever made it on me, because that’s the closest I’ve had to an out-of-body experience. I’d like to think that I just walked out, but, more than likely, there’s an old VHS tape, disintegrating in a drawer somewhere, of me trying to remember lines with a dog collar around my neck in front of a young man I once had a crush on. I sobbed in the parking lot and, when I got home and called my agent to tell him what happened, he laughed and said, “Well, I guess that’s one for the memoirs.” I fired him and moved to Paris not long after.

After I moved to Paris, I put my career on the back burner, but I came back to the U.S. occasionally to work. The magazine Movieline decided to feature 38F782BC00000578-3816414-image-a-6_1475268240041me on its cover, I guess because anyone who leaves Hollywood after having success seems intriguing on some level. In that article, the head of a major studio—and, incidentally, someone who claims himself to be horrified by the Harvey allegations—was quoted as saying, “I wouldn’t know [Molly Ringwald] if she sat on my face.” I was twenty-seven at the time. Maybe he was misquoted. If he ever sent a note of apology, it must have gotten lost in the mail.

I could go on about other instances in which I have felt demeaned or exploited, but I fear it would get very repetitive. Then again, that’s part of the point. I never talked about these things publicly because, as a woman, it has always felt like I may as well have been talking about the weather. Stories like these have never been taken seriously. Women are shamed, told they are uptight, nasty, bitter, can’t take a joke, are too sensitive. And the men? Well, if they’re lucky, they might get elected President.

Molly Ringwald

Advertisements

0 Responses to “Lost In The Mail”



  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




When I Worked

October 2017
M T W T F S S
« Sep   Nov »
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

%d bloggers like this: