Actress Blythe Danner defended daughter Gwyneth Paltrow this week after New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd appeared to question how Paltrow could continue to work with disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein for years after he allegedly sexually harassed her.
Paltrow told the Times this month that Weinstein invited her to his hotel room and attempted to give her a massage, but she rejected his advances. The actress was 22 years old at the time, and would go on to win a Best Actress Oscar in the Weinstein-produced Shakespeare in Love.
But Dowd was seemingly critical of Paltrow in an October 14 column titled, “Harvey Weinstein, Hollywood’s Oldest Horror Story,” in which she wrote that the actress became “the first lady of Miramax” even after the time she alleged the Miramax co-founder had harassed her.
“Others whom Weinstein asked to give him a massage in his hotel suite refused but continued to collaborate, like Gwyneth Paltrow, who put aside qualms to become ‘the first lady of Miramax,'” Dowd wrote. The Times columnist also included a Paltrow quote from 2001, in which she told New York magazine: “I think that for every bad story you hear about Harvey, there are three great ones. People are complicated, and nobody’s all good or all bad.”
But Dowd’s characterization of Paltrow apparently infuriated Danner, who wrote a letter to the editor published Wednesday.
“I cannot remain silent while Maureen Dowd disparages my daughter, Gwyneth Paltrow, for the manner in which she chose to handle Harvey Weinstein’s attempt at a sexual encounter when she was 22,” the 71-year-old actress wrote.
“Gwyneth did not ‘put aside her qualms to become ‘the first lady of Miramax’ ‘ back then, as Ms. Dowd would have it. She continued to hold her own and insist that Mr. Weinstein treat her with respect,” Danner continued. “She had learned from her father, the producer and director Bruce Paltrow, how to stand up for herself. Bruce received the first Diversity Award from the Directors Guild for helping women and minorities in our business. His daughter wasn’t the only woman he taught to fight for herself.”
Danner went on to say that she hopes the Weinstein story will serve as a “point of no return” that would lead to real change in Hollywood and other industries. But she also took a parting shot at Dowd.
“I suggest that the pundits stop casting aspersions on the women who have confronted unwanted sexual advances in the manner each sees fit and concentrate on the constructive ways to prevent this behavior in the future,” she wrote.
Danner’s letter comes as the number of women who have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment or abuse has topped 40. At least five women have also accused the movie mogul of rape. Weinstein was expelled from both the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Producers Guild of America this week, and is currently in Arizona, where he is reportedly seeking treatment for sex addiction at a rehab facility.
Police in New York City and London are reportedly investigating specific allegations against Weinstein, and he could still face criminal charges if the statute of limitations has not expired on the claims. The Los Angeles District Attorney said this week it would prosecute Weinstein if allegations emerge against him.
Meanwhile, other stars have spoken out about their own experiences with sexual assault and harassment in the industry, including Reese Witherspoon, America Ferrera, and Laura Dern. All three of the actresses said this week that they were assaulted when they were under the age of 18.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum