The much-beloved and well-respected actor said he never heard any of the sexual assault accusations being leveled against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, but he is “sure there were people who knew exactly what was going on and didn’t say anything.”
Hanks told NPR reporter David Greene that the culture of sexual abuse is not limited to Hollywood.
“The aspect of ‘Oh this is the Hollywood culture’ … Anywhere there are people in power who think it’s OK to manipulate those under them in a sexual manner under the guise of either helping or hindering their career—that exists absolutely everywhere in Western society—actually, everywhere in the world.”
“That’s patently wrong.”
“Certainly it happens in Hollywood. They talk about ‘the casting couch’ in between movies on Turner Classic Films,” the actor explained in the interview on Oct. 23.
Hanks, who sits on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Board of Governors, said that the recent revelations about Harvey Weinstein should usher in an era of ethical reform in the movie industry, and society in general.
“God bless, that we’re now at the place where there’s going to be—I think everybody’s going to have to define a code of ethics and they’re going to have to start living and working by that code of ethics.”
Hanks said the culture of toleration for sexual abuse was already changing. He spoke of the courage needed to step forward, but also of the positive reception victims can now expect.
“It’s a traumatic moment of pain and grief and embarrassment and anyone who speaks up I think is crazy-brave, and now luckily has an awful lot of people who are going to listen.”
In the movie industry as in all industries, Hanks explained there are people, both men and women who want power.
“They think somehow this is how it works: ‘Don’t you understand, this is how it works. I’m the boss, and you are going to have to please me somehow.'”
That is not just in Hollywood; that exists absolutely anywhere.
“And those days, I think, are close to being—well, I don’t know if they’ll ever be over, but there will be some recompense for anybody who is on the other side of it.”
“I think the best thing that anybody who [is very] brave can say, the moment that it happens, is ‘I have just been sexually harassed in the workplace, and that’s against the law.’”
Harvey Weinstein has been accused of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape by a few dozen actresses and models. Emboldened by this some women are also revealing abuse at the hands of other Hollywood power brokers.
Weinstein is currently being investigated by police in London, New York, and Los Angeles for sex crimes committed in those jurisdictions.
Not a Product of His Times
Weinstein attempted to explain his behavior in a statement published in the New York Times on Oct. 5.
In it, Weinstein explained that his habits stemmed from the more permissive times and the male-dominated culture in which he grew up.
“I came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.”
“I have since learned it’s not an excuse, in the office—or out of it. To anyone.”
“I realized some time ago that I needed to be a better person, and my interactions with the people I work with have changed.”
“I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it.”
Weinstein said then that he was taking a sabbatical and seeking therapy. At the same time, he denied most of the allegations against him.
Tom Hanks, at age 61, is a contemporary of the 65-year-old Weinstein. Hanks has never been accused of anything even remotely unsavory.