Screenwriter Rebecca Lenkiewicz got to speak with multiple Harvey Weinstein accusers during the making of She Said, the new Universal Pictures drama that tells the true story of how New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey wrote the 2017 report that opened the floodgates of the #MeToo movement.
Lenkiewicz described the experience of speaking to women who spoke out against Weinstein as “rather beautiful.”
“I met each of them for a few hours — Laura [Madden] in Wales, Rowena [Chiu] and Zelda [Perkins] in London — and we just talked and talked and talked around a lot of things,” Rebecca Lenkiewicz told MovieMaker.
“With Laura, for instance, I knew what had happened to her, and I didn’t ask her what happened. I just talked about the consequences and how she feels now and how she felt then. And it was just very interesting in terms of trauma, how that echoes throughout life, how you resolve or try to resolve it — because the whole issue of violence against women, I think people think it’s an event in a night, or bullying is a couple of months or a couple of years, and then you get over it. But these things, they’re bodily. It takes a huge amount of time and repair and thought and process to get back on track sometimes.”
Rebecca Lenkiewicz knows from experience.
“I felt it was a story I could write, that I was entitled to write. I’ve had horror stories, people around me have had horror stories. It’s not like it’s a million miles from my experience,” Lenkiewicz said, though, to be clear, her experiences were not with Weinstein.
“I feel that the amount of women who’ve had these experiences is so prolific, so I felt it was both a challenge and a privilege to write it,” she said.
She Said stars Zoe Kazan as Kantor and Carey Mulligan as Twohey as they report out the story of a lifetime. Based on Kantor and Twohey’s book of the same name which they wrote about their experience on the Weinstein story, She Said tells a story that will go down in history as a game-changing catalyst not just for Hollywood, but for working women everywhere.
Since the events of the film, Weinstein was convicted of third-degree rape and a criminal sexual act in the first degree. He is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence. He denies the allegations against him.
A successful British playwright behind stage plays including Her Naked Skin, Lenkiewicz actually began writing the script for She Said before the book on which its based by Twohey and Kantor had been published.
“Before I got the chapters, I had been to New York and talked to Megan Twohey and Jodie Kantor quite extensively about that time, and also had been to their homes. I’ve met their family. I had a view of their lives, and that was brilliant. That was kind of essential,” she said. “I just sort of dived in. I knew that I wanted it to be incredibly female, and [have] lots of layers of women’s experience so that it would be amazing investigative journalism, but also echo out in different ways. So I was experimenting with form and structure and just very keen to have different timelines and chronologies.”
The resulting film is a gut-punching, relatable, and searingly honest portrayal of what it’s like to be a woman in a toxic workplace facing sexual harassment. And it’s just about as close to what really happened as a movie can get.
“Private conversations were imagined, and shouting at the guy in the bar was imagined — but Megan said it happened to her in the past. So it was kind of a mix of all authentic and artistic license,” Rebecca Lenkiewicz said. “I’d say the film is 95% faithful to the book, but it’s just a very different creature.”
She Said is now playing in theaters.
Main Image: (L-R): Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) and Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) in She Said directed by Maria Schrader. Courtesy of Universal.