“It can be very scary to stand up to bullies.”
—Georgina Chapman, in her 2012 anti-bullying public-service announcement
The Other Woman
Anybody in the vicinity of Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Weinstein at the 2003 Oscars knew his wife, Eve, was in a foul mood. By then, Harvey’s interest in Georgina Chapman was a loosely held secret. Nobody is entirely sure how they met. “He’s friends with her mom” was how people were instructed to explain sightings of Harvey with the Ingres-shouldered ex-model he called “George.”
Harvey had been talking to Jackie Chan in the spring of 2002 about a potential Miramax channel when Georgina turned up on-screen as a buxom saloon girl Owen Wilson picks up in Chan’s Shanghai Knights. The following year, Georgina, then 26, was cast in a number of films where Harvey was in talks with directors. As Darcy’s New York girlfriend in Bollywood’s Bride & Prejudice, Chapman wound up entirely dubbed, not nearly as convincing an American as her boyfriend Harvey, pacing with a cell phone in a cameo in the credits. To the excitement of the film’s producers, he’d bought the U.S. distribution rights, then wound up funding the movie.
The next year (and, indeed, the next), Georgina found a number of roles as hookers or molls, including a dizzy tart decanted from a car for slam-around sex with Bob Hoskins in Luc Besson’s Unleashed. Then came a bigger, better part in a gangster feature called The Business. In his 2013 memoir, The Films of Danny Dyer, Georgina’s co-star said that Harvey had picked up the U.S. distribution rights via a company he bought into just after the film’s release.
Georgina was so nervous at the 2004 audition that her eye was twitching, Dyer remembers, declaring Harvey was obsessed with her: “He flew fucking sushi over from France for her!” Harvey showed up on set for Dyer and Chapman’s one sex scene, with such purring dialogue as “I’m gonna fuck you so good you’re gonna be buying me diamonds from Cartier by the morning.”
Small wonder Georgina soon ditched acting. Not that she didn’t have talent, but as Harvey explained to me after yet another turn for Georgina as a hooker, in Derailed, “She’s not really an actress. She kind of likes to act.”
In March 2004, the mistress and her partner, Keren Craig, incorporated a company in Britain just as a separate Westport home was being eyed for Harvey’s wife, Eve. By July, the Weinsteins’ split was being announced in the New York Post, the impending divorce blamed on his being “married to his work.” As that paperwork was being finalized in New York in December, paperwork in the U.K. formally announced the name of Chapman and Craig’s new company: Marchesa.
Because of Georgina, Harvey was now turning up all over London, at every party, losing his luster, strolling through Claridge’s restaurant on his cell phone, absentmindedly picking at the leftovers on a recently vacated table. He’d stocked a lot of his creative stable there: Anthony Minghella, Stephen Frears, John Madden; it’s why he was named a Commander of the British Empire in 2004. In and out of her boyfriend’s London office, Georgina acquired the nickname “Madame Mao,” says a former Miramax employee who dealt constantly with the London staff. (Her diva ways, people said.)
A middle-class girl whose father is a self-made millionaire and who had some money lavished on an art-school education, Georgina has said she financed college by waitressing, ski-sharpening, and working as a coat-check girl before graduating to some minor modeling. Yet when I wrote about Harvey and Bob in 2005, Harvey was intent she be portrayed as some kind of heiress, even though her father was a small-businessman who had grown up on a council estate (public housing) and found some success with a fair-trade-coffee label. Georgina’s mother was a late-in-life film-set runner now being thrown Weinstein Company gigs.
Because Harvey assumed that everybody else assumed Georgina was a gold digger, he would paint her as independently wealthy to anyone who would listen, telling me, “This is a girl who grew up with money and has wealth and whatever, for her own stupid reasons, likes me.”
Georgina acquired the nickname “Madame Mao.”
Georgina would talk about how she grew up in a very successful family, “but she never expected anything to just be handed to her and that she was going to have to build something on her own,” recalls a former Weinstein Company employee.
Harvey underwent a kind of makeover for Georgina, losing weight. At Cipriani Downtown, Georgina would be whispering over a chicken curry, “Do you know how fattening that is? You can’t eat that. You told me you weren’t going to eat that.”
The plate would go to someone else.
Effectively running his girlfriend’s high-fashion business didn’t stop Harvey from trying to seduce another actress, who reports that he flashed her Georgina’s headshot, proclaiming Georgina a classic beauty and this woman a quirky beauty. “Like he was trying to put me into competition,” she told me. (“Being manipulative is not a crime,” says a spokesperson for Harvey Weinstein.) And being with this young lady was making him question his relationship with Georgina, he said. To hear Harvey effuse over Georgina, one might imagine he’d abandoned the playing field. But several incidents banging around in the press and in lawsuits date from this going-steady period.
For Better or for Worse …
When Harvey and Bob started the Weinstein Company, in 2005, corporate setup explicitly forbade Harvey from any “side deals.” But Marchesa was exactly that, a side deal. Through a spokesperson, Harvey calls this a “personal investment,” while a source close to the board says this was meant to be a “passive financial interest.” Yet it was Harvey who would personally will Marchesa into success. Harvey himself made the initial deal with Neiman Marcus to get the first season’s nine or so dresses into Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman stores, says a source close to the deal. He also worked one of his other gears, calling writers to quash bad reviews when an ill-considered harem number imposed on Diane Kruger for the Golden Globes was on the verge of being booed. (“That’s what a protective husband does, and he was protecting his wife’s brand,” says a spokesperson for Harvey Weinstein.)
Partner Keren Craig designed the fabrics and Georgina the clothes. Georgina has “magic hands,” insists Mary Ann Wheaton, Marchesa’s interim C.E.O. until Harvey was instrumental in crowning Georgina’s younger brother, Edward, a Weinstein Company gofer, with the title. (He had no prior retail experience, according to his LinkedIn profile.) But it was clear who was in charge. At one point in the early days, a roomful of people, including Georgina, watched helplessly as Harvey laid into Edward, who was quietly taking notes: “What the fuck are you writing down? Are you insane? Are you writing a book?” It was as if the omertà dynamic Harvey enjoyed with his brother, Bob, was now replicating itself with the Chapman siblings, when, in 2012, Edward reportedly broke down a door and allegedly choked a girlfriend who later claimed it was a misunderstanding. Harvey was irritated by the scandal, according to The Hollywood Reporter; a settlement was made and an N.D.A. signed. (Edward did not reply when asked for comment through his spokesperson.) “The brother is unimpressive,” says someone who knows him.
Harvey underwent a kind of makeover for Georgina, losing weight. At Cipriani Downtown, Georgina would be whispering over a chicken curry, “Do you know how fattening that is? You can’t eat that.”
None of these displays of control put Georgina off marrying Harvey in December 2007, at his Westport estate; her flower girls were the two daughters Rupert Murdoch had with his then wife, Wendi Deng. The touring company of Chicago performed. Harvey had picked another shiksa. (“Like so many men, because the mothers were so overpowering and belittling,” remarks someone who has observed the couple at close range.) It wasn’t long before Harvey was bugging Bob’s ex-girlfriend Ivana Lowell to get Georgina painted by Lucian Freud, who had once been married to Lowell’s mother, even though Freud tended toward subjects looking more like Harvey.
At pains to depict himself as a “little minor investor,” Harvey funded the entire operation for some time. He was now (impossibly) being lionized in the pages of Women’s Wear Daily. His other efforts to also develop Halston and the Charles James label failed loudly, the trademark owner of the latter telling the Daily News that dealing with Harvey was like “being in a mob movie.”
If it was like a mob movie, it’s because Harvey used his muscle. In 2013, brand consultant Tina Bolland was working with one of China’s biggest actresses, who was going to the Oscars and had already picked a dress, when the phone rang up in the room.
Weinstein. Down in the lobby. For Bolland it was a WTF moment.
Bolland remembers him barreling in. “I said, ‘What are you doing here, Harvey?’” (Later, back at the office, Harvey would shout, “Give me everything we have on her!” his assistant would tell Bolland.)
Naturally Harvey wanted the star in Marchesa. A single suitable dress was understood to be in China. Harvey asked Bolland to step outside, where he got up in her face, saying, “There’s going to be a plane leaving this fucking country in half an hour. It’s going to pick up that fucking dress, and you’re going to get the dress on her. Get the fucking job done!”
“And if I don’t?,” Bolland asked.
“You will never work in Hollywood again.”
And the star wants to work with Weinstein. Because Weinstein has also promised a script at her door Monday morning. And Weinstein delivers. Because she wears his dress, the woman gets the part in this major studio film Weinstein was neither producing nor distributing. Through a spokesperson, Harvey denies this exchange ever took place, calling Bolland “just a stylist” and referencing a deal the star had with Marchesa, though Bolland says they’d had no prior contact.
Madonna was wearing Marchesa. Michelle Obama was wearing Marchesa. And soon: Kate Middleton was wearing Marchesa. Harvey would aw-shucks it with the stars, Bolland recalls: “I’m only doing this because I want my wife to be happy. She’s an amazing woman. Look at these amazing gowns.”
Running his girlfriend’s high-fashion business didn’t stop Harvey from trying to seduce one actress, who reports that he flashed her Georgina’s headshot. “Like he was trying to put me into competition.”
He and Georgina were soon living in a West Village brownstone populated with Zen Buddha heads (so much wishful thinking) and a Chinese emperor and favorite consort gazing down from over the sofa. There were what appeared to be his and hers bedrooms, one bathroom sporting a supersize shower and a William Howard Taft–proportioned tub. Soon two children were added to Harvey’s existing three from first wife Eve, the extended brood now turning up during the winter in Gstaad, where Harvey, the non-skier, hoped to seduce free-spending Saudi princes and assorted oligarchs, turning up for lunch at the Eagle Club fashionably attired in a T-shirt.
Society writer Taki Theodoracopulos, an unlikely après-ski friend of Harvey’s, admits finding Georgina “rather cold and imperious.” Or was it a terrified silence? A defensive regality dating from her days as Harvey’s mistress? Some believed they detected a genuine sadness as they watched her be swept along.
On Ron Burkle’s Boeing 757, en route to Boston to see a tryout of Harvey’s musical Finding Neverland, Broadway folk accompanying Harvey and Georgina weren’t just scandalized to discover they were flying in Burkle’s fabled “Air Fuck One.” Or: that the woman they’d assumed was Burkle’s daughter turned out to be his girlfriend.
No, it was Georgina’s reaction when Harvey started in on a female Weinstein Company executive over an e-mail that had gone out lacking a critical attachment. Impassive. As if it weren’t happening. Harvey had started a fight with The New York Times over whether Finding Neverland should be reviewed in Boston. “Even Scott Rudin’s going to have to thank me for that,” he was saying as he impulsively shot out an e-mail to his stable of A-listers asking for them to support him—but with nothing appended for their signature. When the stars e-mailed back, mystified as to the whereabouts of any kind of letter or petition, his executive caught hell intermittently over several hours: “Didn’t you even graduate from elementary school? What a fucking moron you are!” (Harvey’s spokesperson had no comment on the incident.)
“You’d never even catch a dirty look on her face. She just ignored it,” says a witness, explaining that it was always like that with Georgina. (“But you never saw him yell at her,” recalls an employee who was often in their ambit.)
Madonna was wearing Marchesa. Michelle Obama was wearing Marchesa. And soon: Kate Middleton was wearing Marchesa.
Knowing he was a bully, concerned the stink of sexual impropriety surrounded him, the occasional journalist making inquiries, Harvey laid hands on two documentaries related to these subjects and made a big noise distributing them. He got a bounce from New York governor Andrew Cuomo, who screened The Hunting Ground repeatedly throughout 2015 in support of legislation keyed to campus sexual assault. Harvey also saw to it that 2011’s Bully was screened at the White House even as he was noisily bullying the M.P.A.A. into giving it a PG-13 rating. Time magazine cited his “vehement support” of the movie when, in 2012, they named him one of the world’s most influential people.
Wife Georgina recorded an anti-bullying public-service announcement posted that spring on YouTube. Georgina would Instagram about bullying, now her special cause, even as she sat stone silent, as silent as Silent Bob, when she was partnered in life and in business with someone who will go down in history as one of the biggest bullies of all time.
But privately, afterwards, gestures were made to deodorize the bad juju, says a former Weinstein Company employee: “Georgina would take me aside and give me rides places. Ask how I’m doing. Treat you like a human being after he just eviscerated you and ask questions about your life and where you grew up. It was almost everything in that moment.”
“Georgina seemed like a private person, and she kept her dignity in situations where Harvey often talked down to her in a demeaning way in front of his staff, which felt pretty embarrassing and humiliating to her,” says a source close to the family. “Harvey would be berating a staff member like me, and Georgina would step in to defend the person being attacked. She’d say, ‘You can’t talk to people like that.’ It would have an effect.”
“I had what I thought was a very happy marriage. I loved my life,” Georgina later told Vogue, denying she ever suspected anything, while allowing that Harvey traveled constantly. But in two drafts of Harvey’s unreleased statement from December 2017, defining what ails him as both sex and anger addictions, he wrote, “Both my wives stood by me and helped me through my sickness.” (Attempts to reach Harvey’s first wife were unsuccessful.)
“Prior to the public disclosure by the media in 2017, Georgina was unaware of any issue regarding sexual abuse of other women or his sex addiction,” says a spokesperson for Chapman. “It is offensive to ask or suggest otherwise. When articles in the press revealed issues of sexual abuse by Harvey of women, she promptly started divorce proceedings.”
“Georgina fought really hard to get Harvey into therapy to address his anger issues, and his issues with food, which were all connected,” says a source close to Georgina. “It’s also worth saying that Georgina was in no way exempt from Harvey’s rage.”
In the end, it seemed that Harvey and Georgina were so eager to protect Marchesa from the scandal’s radioactive spillage that, just three months after the initial flash flood of accusations, they announced that an eight-figure divorce settlement was already “inked”—this before liquidations of property and knowing the ultimate fate of the film studio (bankruptcy).
Today the label abides, albeit with a far lower profile, still in Bergdorf Goodman, Georgina having removed herself and the children to Bedford Hills. She is reportedly seeing actor Adrien Brody. Keren Craig resigned last June.
Back when Harvey and Georgina were dating, something in my conversation with him got him rolling on The Americanization of Emily—a movie he now helpfully synopsized for me: “James Garner is a World War II cat, and Julie Andrews is an uptight, priggish Englishwoman. Finally he says, I’m sick of your pedantic bullshit, and she falls for him.”
But not before Julie Andrews chides this workplace ass-slapper of a suitor: “Don’t show me how profitable it will be to fall in love with you.”
“I’m innocent. I’m innocent. How can this happen in America?”
—Harvey Weinstein, found guilty of third-degree rape and a criminal sexual act, February 24, 2020
After the thumbs-down verdict, Harvey passed the time whipping through a biography of the highest-profile persevering bipolar in history, Winston Churchill. In the years that passed between the scandal and the trial, Harvey’s daily phoners with a female therapist had him copping to the things he’d do that weren’t O.K. A mindfulness came. He learned how to just be there as the father of his two young children without multi-tasking, creating elaborately themed family nights and trivia games. His three elder daughters refuse to speak to him still. He tries to be in touch regardless, no-pressure messaging on birthdays. In the medical unit, he receives counseling. He’s trying his hand at writing screenplays. (Not about this experience, however.)
Beset by health issues, he’s been getting shots in his eyes, to stop him from losing his sight like his father. He’s had a stent put in to open his heart. He’s being kept in semi-isolation in a prison-infirmary dormitory, the correctional facility’s union maintaining he’d caught the coronavirus, then keeping him there. They want to keep him from harming others and keep others from harming him. The examples of Jeffrey Epstein and Whitey Bulger are nothing anyone wants to see replayed.
But the fight’s still in him. He’s filing an appeal, hoping to see that 23 years whittled to something more bearable, if not completely reversed. And once the pandemic winds down, he’ll be attending to those rape charges in Los Angeles from two separate women on two consecutive evenings. A flotilla of civil suits.
Ensconced for a spell in sex-addiction rehab, Harvey informed Bob he was not to call him—that they were officially no longer on speaking terms (again). Bob ranted over e-mail that his brother had “disgraced the name Weinstein.” The company was besieged by lawsuits; there would be no buyers. But there would be bankruptcy. Just as their father had suffered before them.
Harvey once told me there were two movies he keeps coming back to: Singin’ in the Rain, which was supposed to be his next big Broadway show, and the noir thriller Double Indemnity. At the end of Double Indemnity, smooth-talking salesman Walter Neff sits with a bullet wound in his shoulder, confessing the tangled cover-up, the silencing of dames that got him in this jam. Neff didn’t get away with it, and neither, in the end, did Harvey Weinstein.
Phoebe Eaton is an investigative journalist, playwright, and the author of In the Thrall of the Mountain King: the Secret History of El Chapo, the World’s Most Notorious Narco