Ellen Pompeo has defended herself after coming under fire on Thursday when a one-minute clip from an hour-long Oxford Union Q&A from July 2018 was unearthed and sparked a backlash on social media.
In the brief clip, Pompeo is discussing the victims of Harvey Weinstein when she remarks, “I think we bear some responsibility, not all, but it takes two to tango for sure.”
She continued: “That’s not to blame the victim, that’s just to say — I did go into a room with Harvey Weinstein, I sat at a table with him, I had a probably two and a half hours with him. He never said anything inappropriate to me, he never made any sort of physical advance to me.”
As she detailed, she had been sent to meet Weinstein in a daytime meeting, and she and Weinstein were not alone together.
“I wouldn’t have gone into that room at night. But he did nothing inappropriate toward me. Now had he, I would have picked up that glass and smashed him across the side of the face with it,” she added. “So I mean, it’s all what we’re willing to tolerate in our self-esteem, and what are we going to put up with, and what are we going to compromise to be liked, to be loved, to be accepted? How bad do we want to be in show business?”
The clip was posted on Twitter, with the poster writing that Pompeo’s comments were “absolutely DISGUSTING.”
What isn’t shown in the clip, however, is the question that Pompeo was asked, and the statements she made ahead of what she says in the clip.
“What do you think needs to happen for this to be a permanent watermark that actually changes the way things are run in Hollywood, certainly internal dynamics forever?” Pompeo is asked.
She responds by stating, “I’m not going to make excuses for those pigs in Hollywood who do disgusting things to women. However, I do think it’s generations of men, these men clearly were brought up by older men and they clearly watched other men… These men have learned this behaviour and I think women also have to be responsible for the signals we put out, for the messages we put out, and the way we present ourselves.”
Right before the clipped comments, she adds: “I think we’re aware of our power, especially women, we’re aware of our power of seduction very early on and we use it and it comes in good [sic] handy, right?… But there has to be a balance in there.” (The entire hour-plus interview can be seen below.)
Pompeo responded to criticism of her comments in a series of tweets, explaining her remarks are “out of context & it’s too serious a subject to talk about on a platform like this.”
She continued be saying that at the time she made those remarks more than two years ago, Weinstein had yet to be accused and subsequently found guilty of rape, adding “that took s**t to a whole different level.”
She also clarified that she was “talking about harassment… not assault. Two different things.”
She concluded by reiterating that “assault and harassment are different both bad but different. Not sure [if] harassment is seen by law enforcement as a crime.”