‘I knew Weinstein was a grub’
ONE of Australia's most iconic actors says he is "staggered" at the repulsive behaviour of some men in entertainment - and fears for his granddaughter, who works in the industry.
Legendary comedian Paul Hogan said he never expected so many people to have been exposed to the vile behaviour in the entertainment industry.
His comments come as the Media Arts and Entertainment Alliance (MEAA) released a damning new report revealing that 40 per cent of stage performers have been victims of predators.
Hogan, who has several "attractive granddaughters" said he would "take matters into his own hands" if any of them were harassed.
"It's great that it's come out," Hogan said of the #metoo movement, which has exposed huge names such as movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, US TV host Matt Lauer and comedian Louis CK.
"There's so many people being exposed that you never expected."
However, the 78-year-old said there was one person he was not surprised was accused.
"I was staggered at the creepiness of people in Hollywood," Hogan said. "I knew Harvey Weinstein was a grub … no one was shocked about Harvey."
His granddaughter Mylee is a reporter for Channel 7, and Hogan, in Australia to promote his role with Cure Cancer Australia, said he would take matters into his own hands if anyone dared harass her.
"I have four attractive granddaughters, one of them is on Channel 7, and if I find out someone out there is hassling her, I'd go out and kick their arse … they shouldn't have to put up with that," he said.
The MEAA's report, to be released today, has laid bare the culture of sexual harassment and bullying in Australia's theatre industry, with the majority of abuse being swept under the rug because victims are too scared they won't be supported if they speak out.
More than 1100 people from the live performance industry were surveyed for the report, the majority of whom were from theatre.
Of the respondents, a disturbing 40 per cent had experienced sexual harassment - almost all on multiple occasions. Another 40 per cent had witnessed sexual harassment in the industry or heard reliable reports of harassment.
Worryingly, 53 per cent of victims and 60 per cent of witnesses had never reported it.
Actors Equity director Zoe Angus told The Daily Telegraph the survey results were "shocking, but sadly not surprising".
Ms Angus said performers were particularly vulnerable to harassment because of the "precarious nature" of their employment. She said theatre companies needed to be aware of the "emotionally hazardous" nature of the job and make sure actors weren't taken advantage of during the creative process - including in sex scenes.
"The biggest reason for not reporting was fear of the professional repercussion," Ms Angus told The Daily Telegraph. "We need a cultural change so that victims feel they will be heard and supported if they speak out.
"We also need witnesses to start speaking out for the vulnerable."
The report comes after several of Australia's heavyweight actors, including Yael Stone from Orange is the New Black, have bravely spoken about experiencing harassment. In an online opinion piece, Stone, who started her career in theatre, described an "unspoken culture" where the "abuse of power manifested in sexual aggression".
The MEAA said responses to the survey had "quadrupled" after media coverage sparked by revelations of the predatory behaviour of disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
"Our aim is to ensure that no-one is harassed or bullied at a major theatre company in Australia. If they are, they must be able to access the help they need." - actor Sophie Ross
It will now work with all major state theatre companies - including Sydney Theatre Company, Melbourne Theatre Company, Bell Shakespeare and Belvoir - to create more effective policies to deal with harassment in the wake of the findings.
Ms Angus "welcomed" the theatre companies coming on board and said theatre directors needed to ensure they themselves were "vocal advocates" against abuse.
"In the past some companies have seen it as not their problem to deal with," she said. "We're witnessing a historic moment as victims speak out and the time for change is now."
The MEAA had been working with a team of freelance artists, led by actor Sophie Ross, since the start of the year to understand the depth of the problem.
Ross said they needed to "set a standard" for the broader industry and "ensure" that "theatres are safe and free of harassment".
"Our aim is to ensure that no-one is harassed or bullied at a major theatre company in Australia.
"If they are, they must be able to access the help they need," she said.
Other findings from the report revealed 14 per cent of respondents had been sexual assaulted, 11 per cent had been physically assaulted and 9 per cent had experienced indecent exposure. In 35 per cent of cases the perpetrator was another cast member.
An overwhelming 80 per cent of respondents said they believed the solution was to empower cast and crew to speak out.