Film star Tom Hanks has said there is no way back for movie mogul Harvey Weinstein following allegations of sexual misconduct and assault.
“We’re at a watershed moment, this is a sea change,” Hanks told the BBC.
“His last name will become a noun and a verb. It will become an identifying moniker for a state of being for which there was a before and an after.”
Mr Weinstein “unequivocally denies” allegations of sexual assault, harassment and rape.
“Everybody has stories about some aspect of the ‘casting couch’,” Hanks said.
Asked if he felt complicit because he was part of the Hollywood machine that has allowed the alleged behaviour to go on, the Oscar winner said no.
“If Hollywood and the entertainment industry was the only place where sexual harassment occurred, I would say yes.. but… that’s not the case, it’s built into the rules of society.
“It would be too simplistic to say this only happens in Hollywood… I watch Mad Men, you could probably say the same about the advertising agency. Look at the halls of government, how many sex scandals do you have there?
“Anywhere that there are men in power there are going to be those types of guys who are sexual predators for the women who work underneath them. And it goes on in the homosexual community as well.”
Hanks said the problem of sexual harassment was widespread.
“I’ve been in rooms with 40 women discussing the subject and the percentage of women who had experienced that kind of predatory sexual nature from a superior was 100%.
“There is going to be, righteously, a pause in the discussion for the women to be heard.
“Perhaps all men, myself included, should pipe down and not try to explain it or comment on it or certainly not try to defend it or even prosecute it because every one of those women, those 40 women I was in the room with, 100% of them need to be listened to.
He added that we “need to understand how vast and all-encompassing this was… it’s all got to change. It’s inexcusable.”
Hanks added that while many people succeed in Hollywood because of their love of the craft of acting and filmmaking, there are “plenty of people going into it for power – sexual aggressiveness and sexual predatory behaviour in the workplace are criminal”.
“We need to listen to everyone who has been a victim, to give them a full-throated opportunity to speak as specifically as they feel comfortable doing and the people in power – the bosses – have to take note of what the new rules are and they have to follow them.”
“I’m trying to think of a worse word to use than predator and I don’t think there is in this circumstance. I think there should be a code of ethics posted in every lunchroom of every company on the planet that says here is the behaviour that is expected of you as an employee of this company.”
When asked if women should have “proper representation” on company boards, Hanks said: “Of course there should be, without a doubt. They should pay no attention to gender whatsoever, it should be a meritocracy.
Hanks, who is on the board of the organisation behind the Oscars, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, said he could not comment on the recent decision to remove Mr Weinstein from the board.
“I’m not at liberty to discuss it. The board of governors, through John Bailey, has to speak with one voice.”
The actor also discussed his foray into the world of literature, having just published a selection of short stories under the title Uncommon Type.
He said he was “petrified… I never thought I’d finish them to the point that they were all satisfied at the publishers. It was hard work but ridiculously satisfying”.
He admitted he had “a celebrity advantage – I guess people are probably willing to talk to me for three minutes about the book and an hour and a half about all the other stuff I do in my day job.
“(But) if they were lousy, I don’t think we’d be here talking.”