Jessica Chastain Says Awards Season Is Better Without Harvey Weinstein

"We have now moved to a much happier place," the "Eyes of Tammy Faye" actress said.
Jessica Chastain, a cast member in "The Forgiven," poses at the premiere of the film at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Toronto. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Jessica Chastain
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Two years after former studio executive and producer Harvey Weinstein was convicted on multiple counts of rape and sexual assault, Oscar season has changed for the better — at least according to three-time Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain.

During Variety’s Awards Circuit podcast, Chastain chose not to mention Weinstein by name, but implied that the Weinstein Company mega-producer had a huge hand in the toxic Hollywood culture around awards season campaigning.

“Listen, he-who-shall-not-be-named really changed awards season,” Chastain said. “I don’t see it nowadays like I saw it when I first came onto the scene. If a film had a lot of attention, there’d be all these negative articles about it, all of a sudden. I believe he-who-shall-not-be-named is the instigator of that kind of campaigning.”

Chastain continued, “Thank goodness our industry is moving to a more healthy environment, and we’re now more celebratory of everyone. We’re not trying to knock someone down because they’re competition. We have now moved to a much happier place.”

Weinstein is rumored to have shut down awards buzz for Chastain’s turn in Kathryn Bigelow’s 2012 film “Zero Dark Thirty.” Bigelow allegedly turned down Weinstein as a producer for the film, per The Hollywood Reporter; “Zero Dark Thirty” went on to receive five Oscar nominations including Chastain for Best Actress and Bigelow for Best Director, as well as Best Picture, but won only for Best Sound Editing. Megan Ellison with Annapurna Pictures produced “Zero Dark Thirty.”

Chastain is now up for Best Actress at the Oscars for “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” which she also produced. Chastain was also previously nominated for Best Supporting Actress for “The Help” in 2011.

Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in New York state prison on the charges of rape in the third degree and criminal sexual acts in the first degree following a six-week trial. As IndieWire formerly reported, the New York trial altogether assessed five criminal counts, including two on predatory sexual assault, one involving Miriam Haley and actress Annabella Sciorra, and the other count pertaining to Sciorra and Jessica Mann. In addition to the predatory counts, Weinstein was also charged with one count of criminal sexual assault (against Haley), and two counts of rape (one in the first degree, one in the third, both involving Mann).

Weinstein has been indicted on 11 counts of sexual assault in Los Angeles County, according to the Los Angeles Times, including four counts of forcible rape, four counts of forcible oral copulation, two counts of sexual battery, and one count of sexual penetration by force, against five women. The alleged assaults all took place in West Los Angeles and Beverly Hills between 2004 and 2013.

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