The professional trajectory of Harvey Weinstein, the famed and feared Hollywood mogul, has been as volatile as his personality.
One of Hollywood’s most powerful producers, Weinstein co-founded Miramax Films, turning the studio into a behemoth that changed the way independent films were viewed. His name has been attached to some of the most famous movies from the past few decades, and he has remained a force in a film industry that has changed substantially since he began his career in the 1970s.
Along the way, he helped propel the careers of people such as Quentin Tarantino and Steven Soderbergh and won the admiration of countless critics and others.
But his reputation for abrasiveness and his legendary temper have earned him more than a few enemies along the way, making Weinstein the frequent target of award-ceremony jokes and pointed anecdotes.
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Matt Damon once compared him to a scorpion.
The complicated relationship Weinstein has with the industry was perhaps best summed up by a speech Meryl Streep gave at the Golden Globes one year.
“I want to thank God — Harvey Weinstein,” she joked. “The punisher. Old Testament, I guess.”
But a blockbuster story published by the New York Times last week represented the most severe blow to his career.
The story aired decades of previously unknown sexual harassment accusations against Weinstein, who said he planned to take a leave of absence.
Then, on Sunday night, the Weinstein Co. board of directors announced that Weinstein had been fired from the company he co-founded.
Four directors — including Weinstein’s brother Bob — said they were firing the high-profile, high-powered mogul “in light of new information about misconduct.”
The firing was effective immediately, bringing the latest chapter in Weinstein’s up-and-down career to an ignominious end.
In 1979, Bob and Harvey Weinstein co-founded Miramax, which would help bring art-house cinema into the mainstream.
The studio broke through in the late 1980s with a trio of hits: Soderbergh’s “Sex, Lies, and Videotape,” Jim Sheridan’s “My Left Foot,” which won Daniel Day-Lewis an Oscar, and Giuseppe Tornatore’s “Cinema Paradiso,” which won the Oscar for best foreign-language film.
Disney bought the studio in 1993 for between $60 million and $80 million, giving it an infusion of cash and the backing of a major company. Miramax continued its success, financing Tarantino’s 1994 hit “Pulp Fiction,” which went on to be one of the most influential films of the decade. The film, which was made for $8.5 million, grossed more than $200 million worldwide.
For an 11-year period from 1992 to 2003, Miramax Films had at least one its films nominated for an Oscar each year, winning best picture for several of them, including “The English Patient” (1996), “Good Will Hunting” (1997) “Shakespeare in Love” (1998) and “Chicago” (2002).
Miramax was known for pursing “Oscars with a drive — and a budget — previously unknown in the industry,” placing more advertisements, lobbying more voters, dismissing more rivals and sending out more freebies than other studios, The Washington Post reported in 2008.
But the Weinstein brothers became known for a ruthless way of doing business. “Miramax ran on fear. They’re intimidating, they shout a lot, they foam at the mouth,” Stuart Burkin, who started at the company in 1991, told Vanity Fair.
Even as he was dominating Hollywood, according the Times, Harvey Weinstein was accused of serial sexual harassment.
The actress Ashley Judd said that while she was shooting the 1997 film “Kiss the Girls,” he lured her to his hotel room for a “meeting,” trying to force her to give him a massage or watch him shower. “How do I get out of the room as fast as possible without alienating Harvey Weinstein?” she recalled in an interview with the Times.
Throughout the 1990s, the Times reported, he settled with numerous women, including a young assistant in New York in 1990, actress Rose McGowan in 1997 and an assistant in London in 1998.
Things took a downturn professionally for Weinstein in the 2000s. Disney parted ways with the Weinsteins in 2005 after arguments over the studio’s ballooning movie budgets and disagreements over the degree of their autonomy. Harvey and Bob started a new independent studio, the Weinstein Co., that same year.
But Harvey Weinstein seemed to have lost some of his touch. Between 2005 and 2009, the Weinstein Co. released some 70 films, many of which nobody wanted to watch.
The year 2011 marked Harvey Weinstein’s professional resurgence. “The King’s Speech,” starring Colin Firth, was nominated for 12 Oscars, taking home the best-picture trophy. Critics piled on praise, calling Weinstein the “comeback kid.”
The next year, Weinstein cleaned up at the Golden Globes for “The Iron Lady,” “My Week with Marilyn” and “The Artist,” which would win best picture at the Oscars.
Streep paid him homage during that Globes ceremony with her “God” quote. As Gawker put it, Weinstein had “risen from the grave to feast on the bones of his enemies.”
That year, he was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.
In its investigative report about sexual harassment allegations against Weinstein, the Times reported that he had reached at least eight settlements with women over the years. In a statement to the Times, Weinstein said: “I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it. Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go.”
But by Sunday night, Weinsten had been fired.