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Rosanna Arquette Responds To Partial Guilty Verdict In Harvey Weinstein Case

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Guilty - that is the verdict handed down today by a Manhattan jury in the sex crimes trial of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. He was found guilty of two felony sex crimes - rape and sexual abuse - found not guilty on three other counts, including the most serious ones, predatory sexual assault. While the criminal case against him centered on the stories of two women, more than 90 women have come forward with their own accounts of Weinstein as a sexual predator. One of the first to do so was actress Rosanna Arquette, known for "Pulp Fiction" and "Desperately Seeking Susan," among so many other roles.

Rosanna Arquette, I'm glad to speak with you again.

ROSANNA ARQUETTE: Hi. I'm happy to be speaking with you at this moment and in this time and this verdict.

KELLY: I should point out the obvious for people listening along that this is going to be a conversation about a difficult topic - about sexual assault. I want to start. You're in LA today. How did you hear the verdict? And what did that feel like to hear that word guilty being read out loud?

ARQUETTE: Burst into tears. I just completely burst into tears. I thought I was going to come in to New York for it but decided to stay here because many of the women are here. And we just energetically, I think, needed to all be together, even if we're just on the phone with each other right now.

You know, I have to say that I didn't expect this. And I just felt like, you know, the way it was going that there was a chance that he was just going to get off. And I'm...

KELLY: So you were surprised?

ARQUETTE: I think that because - yeah. I know a lot of people were sure of it, but I didn't have that feeling. I just felt like - you know, I really want to thank the jury for doing their job as much as they could. And it took - it's so brave for these women who came forward and testified. We have so many more women and so many more that will be coming forward in Los Angeles 'cause there's a complete other trial that's happening in Los Angeles.

KELLY: Yes. He faces a separate set of charges in LA. And I should note his attorney says he will appeal this verdict. So some more chapters yet to come.

ARQUETTE: Yes, yes. Even though he appeals, I think he is going to end up serving some kind of jail time for this.

KELLY: What was the reaction of the other women you've - I know this just happened today, but you've been on the phone. How are other women reacting to this? What's the conversation?

ARQUETTE: It's positive. It's overwhelming. We're crying. This is justice. And it's not just justice; it's justice for all women. It sets a precedent. Although we prayed that he was going to be charged on all five counts, this is a great start. It really is.

KELLY: You know, I noted that this is personal for you. Just so the people who don't know the background know, you've talked about - you told me about what you allege Harvey Weinstein tried to do to you back in the 1990s at the Beverly Hills Hotel. And you told me you walked out and said, I'll never be that girl. And by the time you got down to the hotel lobby, you had a completely different career, meaning he wrecked it - or tried.

You said today feels like justice, and I just want to push you on that because he had influence over a lot of women's careers.

ARQUETTE: Yes. He's hurt a lot of people's careers, for sure. It's - I'm sorry. I just want to focus on the progress that's been made today and how important it is because this is the first guilty verdict in the #MeToo era. And it's a big deal. And, yes, there are laws that - you know, we do need to change the laws within the system. You know, and we need those rape kits tested, you know, and not just shelved for months and years at a time.

KELLY: It's your sense. I mean, we're speaking to you. You're in LA. Has the culture there really changed, do you think? Is the era of the casting couch and all that really behind us?

ARQUETTE: That's a great question. You know, I think it is complicated. I think that there's an awareness that never was. But we still have a tremendous amount of work to do, and that is in our - and even in our own union at the Screen Actors Guild - you know, that what happens on sets so that women and children - children are protected. And that's what the focus is on, you know, for many people that I'm working closely with to make sure that happens.

KELLY: Yeah.

ARQUETTE: And that's really important. You know, on movie sets, a lot of bad things have happened through the years. And so there's an awareness now, and there's, you know, sexual harassment laws that are in place in California. And we're starting to, you know, see some change. You know, Equal Rights Advocates' Noreen Farrell has been really helpful in getting laws passed and - for that so that it's actually criminal if something like that happens on a movie set now.

KELLY: May I remind you of something? I mentioned you and I have spoken before. And the interview that we did in 2018 - we talked for a while, and I thought we were done. And I remember I thanked you, and I was about to say bye. And you said something like, wait; I have something else to say. I want to play you that moment, if I may, and ask you about it.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

ARQUETTE: This is not a witch hunt. This is not a witch hunt. This is men who have done really horrible things and gotten away with it for years. And, well, it's time to be held accountable for these past actions that money and power were able to hide their sick behavior. And that is what it's all about - no more. We say no more.

KELLY: Rosanna Arquette, that was you in 2018. I wonder what it's like to hear that today. And does it feel like, after all that time, like you've been heard?

ARQUETTE: It made me - you know, it made me cry because, you know, it's been a lot for a lot of us to be able to come forward, especially in our business, and, you know, the women who were actors, most importantly, that were in this business in a time, and we've been vilified and not believed. And there are many, many powerful people that are still in power that feel sorry for Harvey Weinstein.

And I would say right now I want to honor the really good men there are, and there are such really good men out there that have been supportive and are on board with us and are on board to change the laws with us so this doesn't happen to people anymore in the workplace - not just Hollywood, but any workplace. We've got to change this. This is a reckoning and an awakening. And, you know, it's not all five counts, but it really is something, and it means a lot.

KELLY: Thank you for talking to us.

ARQUETTE: I want to say that I - all the women that came forward are so brave, and we're the silence-breakers. And we did do this. I want to thank Ronan Farrow, most importantly - The New York Times, but most importantly Ronan Farrow for his incredible investigative reporting and never ever giving up. I - you know, I really am happy that I trusted him. And I thank him so much.

KELLY: That is the actress Rosanna Arquette, one of the women who first accused Harvey Weinstein and helped launch the #MeToo movement.

Rosanna Arquette, thank you so, so much.

ARQUETTE: Thank you. It's wonderful to talk to you today.

KELLY: And to you; thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF AKIRA KOSEMURA'S "DNA") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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