Jason Priestley Opens Up About Punching Harvey Weinstein in 1995 & What Hollywood Needs to Do Next (Exclusive)
By Emily Krauser
Jason Priestley is standing up against Harvey Weinstein -- again.
Last week, a friend of Priestley's -- voice actress Tara Strong -- revealed via Twitter that the 90210 alum had "punched Harvey Weinstein in the face at a club one night." Strong was sharing the story she had heard secondhand in response to a tweet from Mira Sorvino, who had woken up Friday morning to discover what she had long suspected: that Weinstein had derailed her career years earlier.
Just seeing this after I awoke, I burst out crying. There it is, confirmation that Harvey Weinstein derailed my career, something I suspected but was unsure. Thank you Peter Jackson for being honest. I’m just heartsick https://t.co/ljK9NqICbm
Priestley responded to Strong the next day, writing, "IDK about that @tarastrong... I know I never worked for Miramax... and boy was my team HORRIFIED when they heard about what I had done! Harvey was powerful, my team STRONGLY ADVISED me to write him an apology the next day..."
He then fired back at a Twitter user who had written, "More to the story...?," explaining that the incident happened at Miramax's Golden Globes after-party. Weinstein -- who had co-founded Miramax with his brother, Bob Weinstein -- in the '70s -- apparently told Priestley to leave, which led to things getting heated very quickly.
IDK about that @tarastrong... I know I never worked for Miramax... and boy was my team HORRIFIED when they heard about what I had done! Harvey was powerful, my team STRONGLY ADVISED me to write him an apology the next day...
On Monday, ET's Philiana Ng spoke with Priestley -- the voice of Dad on Wishenpoof, Amazon's animated kids' program that currently has a holiday special streaming on Amazon Prime -- who clarified what had happened more than 20 years ago.
"Back in 1995, when that event happened with Harvey Weinstein, I didn’t know who that guy was that I punched at that party. I didn’t find out until the next morning when I read the paper," the 48-year-old actor said. "I just knew that there was this big bully at this party who was not a nice guy and then asked me to step outside. That was my experience with him."
Priestley also admitted that he didn't expect to be a part of the Weinstein conversation so directly -- especially since he didn't bring up the incident himself.
"I got pulled into that whole thing by my friend, Tara Strong, who I had relayed that story to at a certain point in time at a dinner party. It was a thing that had come to light about Mira Sorvino and Ashley Judd, and the way that Harvey apparently went out of his way to do harm to those very talented women’s careers," he explained. "Because my experience had become the topic of conversation in that Twitterverse, I felt it was just time for me to set the record straight about what had actually occurred with the two of us on that night."
"I mean, look, bad behavior is bad behavior, and bullying is bullying and harassment is harassment. Regardless of your distinction in life, those types of behavior should not be tolerated at any time," Priestley told ET. "And I think that the more that all of us in society stop accepting those types of behavior, the sooner those types of behaviors will stop."
As for that tweet from Sorvino, her comments were in reference to a claim Peter Jackson made to New Zealand publication Stuff, where the director admitted he was previously told to avoid working with Judd and Sorvino.
“I recall Miramax telling us they were a nightmare to work with and we should avoid them at all costs. This was probably in 1998,” Jackson said. “At the time, we had no reason to question what these guys were telling us -- but in hindsight, I realize that this was very likely the Miramax smear campaign in full swing.”
In a lengthy statement to ET, Weinstein's spokesperson denied ever blacklisting Judd or Sorvino, whom the producer had previously worked with.
"Mr. Weinstein did not blacklist Mira Sorvino, and was in fact working with her during the time frame in question on Mimic, the Guillermo Del Toro film," the statement read. "Also during that time, she was dating Quentin Tarantino, who was the foundation and backbone of Miramax. At the time in question, no one could have blacklisted or derailed the career of Ms. Sorvino, who had recently won both an Academy and a Golden Globe award and was being courted for leading roles by all seven studios and every major broadcast network."
"After the success of Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson was so powerful he could have cast anyone he wanted in the Hobbit," the statement continued. "Neither Ms. Judd nor Ms. Sorvino had roles in the film. Mr. Weinstein continues to admire Mr. Jackson for his creative genius, but he firmly denies these accusations."