A woman testified Wednesday that Harvey Weinstein raped her in London in 2008 after she told the powerful Hollywood producer, “I don’t do the casting couch thing.”
“I don’t play that game,” Natassia Malthe said, rejecting Weinstein’s lawyer Mark Werksman’s contention in his Oct. 24 opening statement that so-called “casting couch” sex is a widely accepted gateway to Hollywood success.
“Every single credit on my resume is hard-worked, earned. Integrity is something extremely important to me,” Malthe said.
A 48-year-old model and actress from Norway, Malthe described an encounter she first discussed publicly at an October 2017 press conference after news broke of alleged sexual misconduct by Weinstein. She also described how Weinstein later that year asked her for three-way sex with him and a woman she suspected was a prostitute.
As her lawyer Gloria Allred watched from the gallery, Malthe testified about watching the woman perform oral sex on Weinstein and watching them have intercourse, but she never said the woman was Claudia Salinas, who testified last week disputing accusations from Weinstein’s alleged victim Jane Doe 2.
“Nobody Prepares You for a Situation Like That”
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Lisa B. Lench had ruled earlier that Salinas couldn’t be questioned about the encounter, nor could she be named in Malthe’s testimony. Instead, Lench said the proposed threesome was relevant only to Malthe’s testimony regarding her encounters with Weinstein, though prosecutors had argued to the judge that it was relevant to Salinas’ testimony that her relationship with Weinstein was professional.
So while the third participant remained anonymous, jurors heard Wednesday how Malthe “stripped naked,” as Werksman put it, and put on a bathrobe so she could feign interest in a “threesome” and not jeopardize her career.
The encounter occurred “within the year” after Weinstein raped her after showing up at her hotel room unannounced after they saw each other at an after-party for the 2008 British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
She said she woke to Weinstein pounding on her door, shouting that he was outside, and remembered what her publicist told her: “When you are the face of a brand, your image had to be responsible. You had to be squeaky clean.” With her publicist down the hall, Malthe answered the door, worried her publicist would hear Weinstein yelling if she didn’t. She later testified that she thought to herself, “Damn, ugh, what am I gonna do?”
“Nobody prepares you for a situation like that where in the middle of the night. You have this job that’s your big break, and you have the boss of Hollywood knocking on your door in the middle of the night. There’s nobody who knows how to handle that,” Malthe said.
But she described later seeing “a very human” side of Weinstein in a meeting at a bar years after the rape, in which she “decided to confront him with his problem.”
“I said, ‘Have you considered seeing a therapist? Because obviously you have problems,'” Malthe said.
Weinstein responded that he’d seen a therapist, and Malthe testified Wednesday that she “saw something behind the big powerful dude; I had some sort of understanding that he had a problem.”
But in nearly the same breath, Malthe described how Weinstein asked her to watch him take a shower, and she obliged.
“And he was in a really good mood,” she said emphatically.
Malthe’s casual courtroom confidence carried through cross-examination from Werksman, as she pushed back against his questions with her own questions and appeared annoyed by his persistence.
At least twice during perceived lengthy answers Werksman asked her, “Are you done?” and Malthe retorted, “Are YOU done?”
The second time, Werksman replied haughtily, “No, I’m not done. I’m going to ask you some more questions.”
“The Most Powerful Person in Hollywood”
Malthe cried slightly when testifying about Weinstein having her “in this fucking suite with a prostitute,” saying she was “furious,” but she maintained her composure throughout her nearly all-day witness stand appearance. She said her first thought when Weinstein showed up at her hotel room was “What the fuck?” and she emphatically described Weinstein’s status as “the most powerful person in Hollywood.”
“He was called One Phone Call Away Harvey, meaning he could make you or break you,” Malthe said, adding that Weinstein “could make a film go away by putting it on the shelf. He was a genius.”
When he showed up at her hotel room in London in 2008, she said she “just thought, ‘This guy is so powerful. I have no idea what to do in this situation.’ And I completely froze.”
Weinstein had “just stormed in” and told her, “No one gets to be like an A-lister unless it goes through me,” she said.
She’d been hobnobbing with some earlier, testifying how excited she was to attend the BAFTAs with so many people whom she “had watched in movies.” She felt the same way when she saw Weinstein at Fashion Week in New York in 2007, prior to the assault, which she said was “the first time I would mingle with A-listers and famous people.”
“For me, it was like this huge big deal,” she said. She attended “a fashion show of Mr. Weinstein’s beautiful wife,” referring to his now-former wife Georgina Chapman. Malthe said her publicists, whom she described as her bosses, directed her to take a picture with Weinstein, but when she approached him, “Mr. Weinstein’s first comments out of his mouth were, ‘Where are you staying?” and ‘What’s your room number?'”
“I was flabbergasted. I didn’t know how to respond to that because I’d never talked to him before,” she said.
She had, however, seen him in person before: In 2002, when she and supermodel Naomi Campbell and a man named Ryan were in Cipriani restaurant in New York City after Campbell had booked her for a modeling campaign. Malthe testified Wednesday that a man who turned out to be Weinstein was sitting at a nearby table, staring intently at her.
“He would not break his gaze. So I yelled in the restaurant — I yelled, ‘Can I swear? Who the fuck is that fat fuck who is sliming me?’ And someone said, ‘Do you know who that is? That’s Harvey Weinstein,'” Malthe said. “I yelled out, ‘I don’t give a fuck who it is! That guy is sliming me.”
The testimony led to a memorable exchange in cross in which Werksman waxed indignant over the “fat fucking pig” comment, asking Malthe, “Is that what beautiful models call overweight men?” Judge Lench sustained a relevance objection from Deputy District Attorney Paul Thompson so Malthe didn’t answer, though she insisted, “I can answer!”
By the time of the 2008 attack, she said she understood Weinstein “embodied the movie business.”
“Reminded Me of a Boar”
Weinstein reminded her of that fact, too, she said, telling her to “think about all the Oscars” that had prompted stars to thank him on stage.
“Everybody had to go through him, meaning comply,” Malthe said. “He took off his pants and pushed me on the bed and climbed on top of me and I said to him, ‘I don’t do the casting couch thing.'”
But Weinstein didn’t stop, she said.
“I looked into the blanket on my bed and he penetrated me,” she said.
“It didn’t last that long because I had zero response because I just played dead,” she continued. “He got off me and finished off himself. He ejaculated into his hand.”
She said she was on her back when he “got on top of me … and my face was away, because I didn’t know what to do.”
“I think his pants were off, and he must have had his clothes off because I remember seeing a big hole in his stomach,” she said. “I was playing dead and I wanted to remove myself from what was going on, so I just went into like, block.” She said she stayed subdued, neither fighting nor screaming.
“It’s like my brain just went into a frozen state and I couldn’t think,” she said, comparing her reaction to “a deer caught in headlights.”
“The asymmetrical power situation was so large I felt like there was this powerful guy who could ruin my career, who had the destiny of people’s life in his hands,” she said. “I was 98 pounds at the time because I refused to eat. I was eating just vegetables to fit into the clothes that I was given.”
Malthe said Weinstein “reminded me of a boar.”
“He had a ginormous presence, an intimidating presence,” she said.
And the night he attacked her, he seemed to be “on something, or it was adrenaline,” Malthe said, adding, “I don’t know how to describe it.”
Weinstein quickly left after the rape, Malthe said, and she “was just thinking to myself about what happened and not knowing what to do.”
“I remember thinking, ‘This is a horrible experience’ and ‘What do I do with this horrible experience?'” she said. “What do I do with hit and how can I outsmart him? How can I outsmart this dude?”
Calling police wasn’t an option “because if you’re an actress and you’re a problem, you don’t work.”
“If you are difficult, that thing goes around Hollywood that this person is difficult,” she said. She also said contacting police “is not this go-to thing that I do.”
“I don’t like to burden people and I don’t like to tell people my private stuff,” she said. “You feel humiliated and embarrassed.”
Malthe did, however, tell a director she identified as David Nutter, and a woman she identified as her “soul sister,” Sarah Scoglin.
The day after the rape, Malthe said, she saw a script for the musical Nine on her night stand, which she later testified she knows Weinstein left it there.
She wanted to avoid him, but she also “wanted to make the best of this situation” and pursue the opportunity. She took singing and dancing lessons, then was surprised to see Weinstein at her audition. His presence left her “thrown off” and “horrified.”
She kept working on her voice, later emailing Weinstein in April 2008 that she wanted to give him a recording. He told her not to send it to his office but to give it to his assistant, who was at the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel, a frequent Weinstein haunt and the site of his alleged crimes involving Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the wife of California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) who testified Monday and Tuesday.
Malthe said she went to the hotel, but Weinstein’s assistant, whom she did not name, told her, “No, Mr. Weinstein wants you to follow me, and talk about the movie.”
Malthe said she thought to herself, “fuck, dammit.”
“Embarrassing and Humiliating”
Weinstein tossed aside her CD when she arrived, then moved himself “into the other side of the suite.”
“He tricked me to coming into his hotel. All of the sudden I’m in his hotel room,” she said. That’s where she saw the woman who’s been identified in out-of-jury discussions as Salinas. Malthe said her plan was to “just pretend I’m really innocent. And not do anything.”
“And this prostitute, who I think is a prostitute, is like, ‘Oh, she’s so shy’ and her and Weinstein were laughing. And she gave him a blowjob,” Malthe said. “I was still trying to manage the situation because I really wanted to be able to do a quality movie. … She was coaxing me into it like come on, come on, and put on a robe.” She testified about another encounter in 2011 with a friend that ended with Weinstein pulling Malthe into a room and masturbating in front of her “while my friend was in the other room.”
“Which is embarrassing and humiliating,” she said.
Werksman began his cross by questioning Malthe’s assertion that Weinstein was staring at her at not Campbell during the “fat fucking pig” incident in 2002.
“At the time, you were not a prominent person in the modeling business?” Werksman said. Malthe wavered in her answer, listing achievements by 2002 as being a “Neutrogena girl” and named to Maxim‘s 50 Beautiful People, while also securing roles in 30 movies and TV shows. But she concluded, “In my book, no, that’s not a lot.”
That bolstered Werksman’s point.
“At the time you would acknowledge Naomi Campbell is a lot more prominent than you?” Werksman asked.
Malthe said, “Sure, she’s Naomi,” adding later, “Well, to the world, she may be a big deal.”
“You’re sure she was staring at you and not the supermodel sitting next to you?” Werksman asked.
Malthe confidently answered that she’s very sure.
He also pressed her about Weinstein getting her and a friend a hotel room for the Cannes Film Festival, asked her about her police report years later and questioned her claims of memory flashes.
“Does that mean sometimes you remember certain things, and at other times you don’t?” Werksman asked.
“As I’ve spoken about this publicly, and worked through this with therapists… The way I remember it was more like a movie now. It feels like it was a movie,” Malthe said.
“You never actually told Mr. Weinstein that you didn’t want to have sex that evening, did you?” Werksman asked.
“I did. I told him I don’t do the casting couch thing,” Malthe answered.
“You didn’t say, ‘no’ or ‘get off my bed.’ You said, ‘I don’t do the casting couch thing,'” Werksman said.
Malthe said Weinstein is “very entitled, and he just pushes you down.”
“My question is, ‘Did you ever actually say, ‘No, I don’t want to have sex with you, Mr. Weinstein?'” Werksman asked.
Malthe answered that no she didn’t. Werksman also asked her about Weinstein inviting her to have a threesome, which she said was not a request but a demand.
“I was not asked. Do you know the difference between that?” she said.
“I’m asking the questions,” Werksman responded.
Werksman later referenced her testimony about Weinstein masturbating in front of her and asked, “Did you feel more demeaned and humiliated than when you’d gotten into a robe as part of the threesome at the Peninsula?”
Malthe answered that the Peninsula incident traumatized her more deeply than the masturbating incident. He also asked about the assistant telling her to go to Weinstein’s hotel suite, saying, “This is like the fourth time that you’ve followed along with some assistant against your will.”
“Against my inner wishes, and yes … when you’re meeting Mr. Weinstein, you hope things are going to get better,” she answered.
Malthe’s testimony was followed by Louisette Geiss, an actress and supporting witness for Siebel Newsom who will continued testifying at 10 a.m. today. Prosecutors expect to rest their case late this Thursday afternoon or Friday after canceling plans to call actor Mel Gibson as a witness and having Judge Lench dismiss charges involving Jane Doe 5.
(Images: Weinstein photo by Stephanie Keith_Getty Images; Malthe photo a screenshot via KTLA 5 YouTube)
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