When the horrific allegations of sexual abuse that were levelled at Harvey Weinstein first came to light two years ago, Gwyneth Paltrow was conspicuously silent.
The former golden girl of his company, Miramax, stayed mum as dozens of other Hollywood actresses came forward with complaints of sexual harassment, assault or rape against the movie mogul.
While it raised eyebrows at the time, the two journalists who first uncovered the scandal say Gwyneth was actually integral in bringing down the disgraced producer, even helping to organise one of the first meetings between other victims at her Hollywood home.
"[She] played a much more active role than anyone's ever known," says New York Times journalist Jodi Kantor (44). It was she and colleague Megan Twohey who wrote the original article that led to Harvey's downfall and gave rise to the #metoo movement.
Harvey (67) gave Gwyneth her first big break, casting her as the lead in his 1996 film Emma, before again collaborating on the Academy Award-winning Shakespeare in Love, for which she won a Best Actress Oscar.
But Gwyneth, herself an alleged victim of Harvey, was determined to help expose him despite fears for her career.
"He'd presented himself as a godfather to her," says Megan.
"When so many other actresses were reluctant to get on the phone and [were] scared to tell the truth about what they'd experienced at his hands, Gwyneth was one of the first people to get on the phone… even when Harvey showed up at a party at her house early and she was forced to hide.
"Harvey Weinstein was extremely aware and extremely scared about what the implications would be if his biggest star went on the record."
Gwyneth (47) says she was "really scared" about coming forward in the early stages of the investigation, which was publicly supported by fellow stars Ashley Judd (51) and Rose McGowan (46).
"I think society had basically only shown us examples where women coming forward ended up not being advantageous for the woman. But I really felt like it was time," she tells.
It was when Gwyneth was 22 that she alleges Harvey first acted inappropriately to her. She says he summoned her to his hotel room, placed his hands on her and asked for a massage in the bedroom.
"It was weird. I was alone in a room with him. It was out of the blue, I was shocked," she tells.
She told her then-boyfriend Brad Pitt about the incident, who confronted Harvey at a movie premiere and threatened him with violence – "He said, 'If you ever make her feel uncomfortable again, I'll kill you,'" remembers Gwyneth.
"It was so fantastic because what he did was he leveraged his fame and power to protect me at a time when I didn't have fame or power yet. He's the best."
Says Brad (55), "At that moment, I was just a boy from the Ozarks on the playground, and that's how we confronted things. I just wanted to make sure nothing was going to happen further, because Gwyneth was going to do two more films [with him]."
Harvey continues to deny all allegations, and is awaiting trial on charges of "rape, criminal sex act, sex abuse and sexual misconduct" pertaining to two women. The trial date is set for January next year.
However, almost 100 women have now come forward with their own allegations against Harvey, including Cate Blanchett (50), Angelina Jolie (44), Daryl Hannah (58), Salma Hayek (53) and Uma Thurman (49). Fourteen women have also accused him of rape.
While it took Gwyneth a little longer to publicly attach her name to the crusade, she says it was the thought of her 15-year-old daughter Apple having to endure a similar experience that spurred her on.
"Having a teenage daughter that's the love of my life, and worrying about her going into the workplace, and feeling like if there was ever a chance that there could be a cultural shift on this stuff, I wanted to participate in (it)," she says.
"I never could have imagined that a shift this seismic would happen, but I feel proud that I have a small part in it."
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