Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone on Friday said disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was being “condemned by a vigilante system” as people rush to pass judgement on allegations he sexually abused and raped multiple women.
Weinstein, one of Hollywood’s most influential producers, has been accused by more than a dozen women of sexual harassment, assault and rape in a series of media investigations by the New York Times and the New Yorker magazine.
Police in New York and the United Kingdom have since launched investigations following the publication of an avalanche of claims that go back decades.
The reports have sparked both outrage and soul-searching in Hollywood over the treatment and exploitation of women, particularly young and aspiring actresses.
But on Friday Stone said he believed the industry and the public were prematurely judging Weinstein.
“I’m a believer in you wait till this thing gets to a trial,” he told reporters in the South Korean city of Busan, where he is heading a jury at an international film festival.
“If he broke the law it will come out. I believe that a man shouldn’t be condemned by a vigilante system,” he added.
Stone also said Hollywood was rife with “horror stories” but that such allegations remained hearsay.
“So it’s not easy what he’s going through,” he said. “During that period he was a rival and I didn’t really know him. I’ve heard horror stories about everybody in the business so I’m not going to comment on gossip.”
– ‘No tolerance’ –
Darren Aronofsky, the Oscar-nominated director behind “Black Swan” and recently-released thriller “Mother!”, was also asked to comment on the Weinstein allegations at Busan.
“Sexual abuse of any type anywhere is unacceptable,” he told reporters. “It’s unlawful. It’s disgusting. And it needs to be battled by everyone. Men and women need to have no tolerance for it.”
Stone’s remarks came a day after American actress Rose McGowan became the fourth woman to accuse Weinstein of raping her.
Weinstein’s accusers include such big-name actresses as Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mira Sorvino, Kate Beckinsale and Ashley Judd.
The allegations ranged from unwanted sexual advances to rape and forced oral sex.
Weinstein, who has been fired from his own studio, has “unequivocally” denied that any of the sex was non-consensual but has also apologised for past behaviour.
On Wednesday he was seen in public for the first time in days when paparazzi descended upon him as he left his daughter’s home in Los Angeles.
“Guys, I’m not doing OK but I’m trying,” he said in a video obtained by ABC. “I got to get help. You know what, we all make mistakes.”
As he climbed into an oversized sports utility vehicle, he said he hoped people would give him “a second chance”.
Known for his political films and documentaries, Stone also addressed nuclear tensions on the Korean peninsula during his press conference at the 22nd Busan International Film Festival, where he is chairing the jury for its major New Currents award.
Stone –- whose wife is Korean –- called on the Trump Administration to “accept the fact that North Korea has nuclear weapons”.
“We cannot deny this anymore,” the 71-year-old director said. “Otherwise this is not going to end well. The possibility of war concerns all of us. It’s a time for diplomacy and restraint.”