Annette Bening has said she hopes the allegations of sexual harassment and assault made against Harvey Weinstein will be a “tipping point” in Hollywood.
The star, who is a former governor of the Academy, said she hopes the scandal raises awareness of how difficult it can be for young women in the industry, adding: “Most women, in some way or another, have experienced” some kind of harassment from someone at some point.
Arriving at the premiere of her latest film, Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool, at the BFI London Film Festival, she told the Press Association: “Maybe it’s a tipping point, that’s my hope, that there is a real cultural shift.
“I mean I don’t think it’s going to be overnight but there is a new and different understanding and awareness of what that kind of behaviour means and for women to be able to stand up and be open, that takes such courage and they deserve all the credit and in this case I think the right thing is happening.
“I just hope it’s opened awareness maybe a little bit more, for people to understand how difficult it is when you’re in that position as a woman, as a young woman, as a vulnerable woman, as a woman who needs a job.
“Let’s face it, most women, in some way or another, have experienced it. Maybe not to the degree, I hope not to the degree that is in all these stories, but on some level. So maybe things are shifting a little bit.”
James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli, who also produced Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool, added: “Any form of harassment is really just abhorrent and I’m just really glad that there has been so much support for the people who have spoken out.”
Weinstein has been at the heart of a scandal that has gripped Hollywood and has seen stars including Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie claim they were sexually harassed by him.
It was announced earlier that the British Academy of Film and Television Arts has suspended Weinstein’s membership, effective immediately.
A statement posted on the official Bafta website reads: “In light of recent very serious allegations, Bafta has informed Harvey Weinstein that his membership has been suspended, effective immediately.
“Whilst Bafta has previously been a beneficiary of Mr Weinstein’s support for its charitable work, it considers the reported alleged behaviour completely unacceptable and incompatible with Bafta’s values. This has led to Mr Weinstein’s suspension, and it will be followed by a formal process as laid out in Bafta’s constitution.
“We hope this announcement sends a clear message that such behaviour has absolutely no place in our industry.
“Bafta will continue to work with the film, games and television industries to improve access to rewarding and fulfilling careers in safe, professional working environments.”
Weinstein’s wife Georgina Chapman has described his behaviour as “unforgivable” and has said she is leaving him.
Ms Chapman, who has two children with Weinstein, told People magazine: “My heart breaks for all the women who have suffered tremendous pain because of these unforgivable actions.
“I have chosen to leave my husband. Caring for my young children is my first priority and I ask the media for privacy at this time.”
Barack and Michelle Obama are among the high-profile figures to condemn the producer, saying they were “disgusted” by the reports.
They joined a number of Hollywood stars, including George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, Dame Judi Dench and Benedict Cumberbatch, who have thrown their support behind the women accusing Weinstein of sexual harassment, while Ben Affleck said reading the rape allegations made him “sick”.
On Tuesday, Paltrow and Jolie joined a growing list of stars accusing the producer of sexual harassment, and he has been dismissed from the Weinstein Company, which he co-founded with his brother Bob Weinstein.
Harvey Weinstein has rejected many of the allegations and issued a vehement denial over three allegations of rape which emerged on Tuesday.
Following the further allegations, high-profile women’s rights lawyer Gloria Allred issued a challenge to Weinstein to provide “justice” for his accusers through independent arbitration or confidential mediation.
Ms Allred was speaking alongside former actress Louisette Geiss, who claimed Weinstein begged her to watch him masturbate at a hotel during the Sundance festival in 2008.
It came after three women alleged that Weinstein raped them, in an article in The New Yorker.
Actress Asia Argento and former actress Lucia Evans went on the record to allege Weinstein forced himself on them sexually. A third woman spoke anonymously.
In a statement to the New York Times, his spokeswoman Sallie Hofmeister said: “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr Weinstein.”
The producer had issued an apology for his behaviour before the rape allegations surfaced, saying he appreciated that the way he had behaved with colleagues in the past “has caused a lot of pain” and that he realised he “needed to be a better person”.