February 23, 2024

Award-winning dramatist Jez Butterworth has revealed that his new play is part-inspired by his encounters with disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein.

The British playwright, who previously penned The Ferryman and Jerusalem as well as Sky Atlantic drama Britannia, told the BBC’s Front Row radio show that his experience with Weinstein – when the pair worked together on the 2001 Birthday Girl starring Nicole Kidman – has stayed with him and influenced his writing on The Hills of California.

Butterworth said: “My very early experiences in the film business were with Miramax, specifically Harvey Weinstein. It became very clear, very quickly that that was the rules of the game. I was meeting actresses in California who wanted to do my film but would not talk to me because they’d had encounters with him.”

When the accusations against Weinstein were made public in 2017, Butterworth read out an open letter on the BBC’s Newsnight programme, urging him to “think of all those little 11-year-old girls, over decades, whose singular talents you have taken advantage of, whose dreams you have decisively and for ever defined.”

In 2018, Butterworth told Radio Times magazine that, on the same film, he had once punched Weinstein in defence of another colleague.

Weinstein demanded that the producer be taken off the film, and Butterworth insisted that he should not.

When Weinstein punched the producer, Butterworth punched him back – “If Harvey wants to start throwing punches, he should know that I know what to do!”

In 2020, Weinstein was sentenced in New York to 23 years in prison following conviction of two felony counts. In 2022 in LA, he was found guilty of a further three offences and sentenced to 16 years, to be served separately.

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