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Hayley Atwell calls for 'predator' Weinstein to be punished

From BBC - November 9, 2017

"He had a very dark presence and a dark charisma."

Actress Hayley Atwell is talking about disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, whom she has met twice at public events. She counts herself "incredibly lucky" at never having been left alone with him.

"I do not think he's a sex addict - I think he's a predator," she says. "He harassed women and therefore he should be punished in the highest way the law offers."

The 35-year-old, best known for her role as Peggy Carter in the Captain America films, also wants to set the record straight about being labelled a "fat pig" by Weinstein.

A story recently surfaced that the powerful producer told her over lunch, during the 2007 filming of Brideshead Revisited, that she looked like a "fat pig" on screen and ordered her to lose weight.

Her co-star, Emma Thompson, then allegedly reprimanded Weinstein telling him he was a misogynist and a bully, threatening to quit the film.

Atwell says that's not the way things happened.

"I was asked how I would feel, given I have got a curvy body, about losing weight - because 1920s flapper girls did not look like that," she explains.

"It was put to me in a delicate way, very discreetly, very subtly - by someone not related in any way to Harvey Weinstein.

"But the question was enough to anger Emma [Thompson] who said to me very clearly: 'You are a very good actor. You are not a model. This is a very dangerous path if you start to succumb to the wishes of Hollywood to make you look a certain way. If they ask you again, not only will I walk off the set but I will take this issue to the press.'

"She was extraordinary about it."

The actress, who is starring in a new BBC adaptation of Howards End, says she was "upset" about the term "fat pig" suddenly being bandied around in relation to her.

"No one has spoken to me rudely about my weight, ever," she says. "And in fact, one of the least interesting things about any of the work I have done is how much I weigh.

"I find it another way of controlling women."

'You normalise it'

Atwell says she ca not remember having directly experienced sexual harassment at work.

But says she "can see that it happens", adding she has "instinctively had a feeling of it" when she walks into a room of powerful men.

"I have been groped in the street a number of times. I have received lots of sexually explicit messages on Instagram and had drunk men at bars coming up to me. You normalise it."

The actress views the allegations from women across various industries in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal as an "exciting opportunity".

"There is something quite extraordinary that's happening now," she says. "Everyone is talking about it and everyone's addressing it.

"I think certainly people who have harassed women in the past are probably shaking in their boots because they are expecting to be exposed at any time.

"And that in itself is a potentially very exciting opportunity now to create a much, much safer working environment, especially for the next generation of young women coming up."

Atwell adds it's also about "teaching young women not to just accept it as the norm anymore - because that norm is changing."

Atwell is starring in a new BBC adaptation of EM Forster's Howards End, as the vivacious and headstrong Margaret Schlegel in turn-of-the-century Britain.

The four-part series is a colourful, vibrant portrayal of Edwardian society. The characters are dressed in bright reds and blues - rather than the muted colours you might typically see in a period drama.

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