“He had a dark presence and dark charisma.”
The actress Hayley Atwell is to talk about disgrace, the film mogul Harvey Weinstein, who has met twice at public events. Counts herself “incredibly lucky” not to be was never left alone with him.
“I don’t think he is a sex addict – I think he is a predator,” he says. “He harassed the women and, therefore, he should be punished in the highest way the act provides.”
The 35-year-old, best known for her role of Peggy Carter in the Captain America movie, wants to set the record straight about being labeled a “fat pig” by Weinstein.
A story recently emerged that the powerful producer told her during lunch, during the 2007 filming of Brideshead Revisited, which looked like a “fat pig” on the screen, and your order to lose weight.
His co-star, Emma Thompson, and then, presumably, rebuked Weinstein telling him that he was a misogynist and a bully, threatening to quit the film.
Atwell says that it is not the way things happened.
“I was asked how I would feel, since I have a curvy body, it comes to losing weight – because the 1920’s flapper girls do not look,” she explains.
“It was put to me in a gentle way, very discreetly, very subtly – by someone not related in any way to Harvey Weinstein.
“But the demand was enough for the anger of Emma [Thompson], who told me very clearly:” You are a very good actor. I’m not a model. This is a very dangerous path if you start to give in to the desires of Hollywood to make you look a certain way. If you are new, not just The walk out from the set, but I’ll take this issue to print”.
“It was extraordinary.”
The actress, who is starring in a new adaptation for the BBC of Howards End, said he was “upset” about the term “fat pig” suddenly being bandied around in relation to you.
“No one spoke to me sharply about my weight, never,” he says. “And in fact, one of the least interesting things about the work that I’ve done is how much I weigh.
“For me it is another way to control women.” ‘Normalize’
Atwell says he does not remember having directly experienced sexual harassment on the job.
But, he says, “you can see what happens,” adding, “he instinctively had a feeling of” when you walk into a room of powerful men.
“I have been trying the street a number of times. I received a lot of sexually explicit messages on Instagram and had drunk men at the bar to come up to me. You normalize”.
The actress views the accusations on the part of women in the various sectors, on the heels of Harvey Weinstein’s scandal as an “opportunity”.
“There is something quite extraordinary that is happening now,” he says. “Everyone is talking about it, and all deal with the problem.
“I think definitely the people who have harassed women in the past, probably, are shaking in their boots, because they are waiting to be exposed at any time.
“And that, in and of itself, is a potentially very interesting opportunity to create a much, much safer working environment, in particular for the next generation of young women coming up.”
Atwell also adds “teach to young women, and not just accept as the norm, because this norm is changing.”
Atwell is the star of a new adaptation on the BBC in EM Forster’s Howards End, as the lively and headstrong Margaret Schlegel in the turn-of-the-century Britain.
The four-part series, is a vibrant portrait of Edwardian society. The characters are dressed in bright red and blue – rather than the soft colours you might typically see in a period drama.
Margaret and Helen Schlegel (Phillipa Couthard) feel modern and worthy of note – can move around the screen, literally around. The sisters speak over each other and squabble, as well as console each other, as families, today, it would be.The humor and wit’
Atwell says he wanted to dispel the idea of a woman back then, being “stiff-mannered” and “austere”.
He puts this misunderstanding down to the fact that the photos took so long to take that all had to freeze.
“We managed to find an archive of action shots of Edwardian women,” Atwell explains. “Are blurry, but you can see them on the big steps along the way – the skirts swaying in the breeze, books and cigarettes in hand, laughing and knocking their heads.
“They have talked, like us, have had the movement, which had energy, they had a great sense of humor and wit.”
The equality of the sexes is a strong theme in the series, with the sisters Schlegel struggle for a more equitable society. This is in direct opposition to matriarch Ruth Wilcox, who says that it is better “to leave action and discussion to men.”
In spite of this, Mrs. Wilcox, who has the power of his family.
Atwell sees the feminism in both Howards End and the here and now, as a complex and contradictory matter.
Asked her if she classes herself as a feminist, she hesitates before vehemently, declaring: “I am!”
“But I need to be clear on what my definition of feminism”, he added. “Feminism for me is not women, women, women, equality between the sexes.” ‘Too scared
Asked if she has experienced the negative effects of the pay gap reflects: “I would not be surprised if I had been, and it is not known at the time.
“Before, I was too scared to find out. It is not good to find out that you have played or undermined or considered to be the contribution of lower value because of your sex.”
It is this gap, she decided, which is crucial for the general attitude towards women in society.
“That then drips in social interaction, as men and women can normalize the weakening of the women, the stereotype of a bimbo, body-shaming women still believe that they are not quite up to when they are not a size zero”.
It’s all part of a bigger picture, where the women are still patronized and condescended and spoken down to”, she believes.
So what is the solution? Well, not “step on the feet, and hate men,” says Atwell, who she considers to be “childish, immature and reductive.”
Atwell says that it is call “abuse of power when people see him”, and the realization of “is no longer acceptable to do certain things in the workplace.”
It is also multi-faceted female roles on the screen.
“I’d definitely like to see the women that I met in the life of every day to be better represented,” says Atwell.
And the strong-willed, dynamic Margaret Schlegel roles in life, which Atwell says influence the younger generation of women thinking “oh, this is what I could do! Oh, that is the part that I could take!”
It is not clear whether it means in real life or on the screen. Then again, it could mean both.
Howards End begins on BBC One at 21:00 GMT on Sunday, November 12.
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