By Chris Kenning
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Mexican-born actress Salma Hayek has joined the ranks of Hollywood women accusing movie producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct, calling him a "monster" in an article published by the New York Times on Tuesday.
"For years, he was my monster," Hayek wrote in the opinion piece in which she included descriptions of sexual harassment, bullying and threats.
Holly Baird, a spokeswoman for Weinstein, issued a statement on his behalf on Wednesday night disputing Hayek's account and calling her allegations of sexual misconduct inaccurate.
More than 50 women have claimed that Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them over the past three decades. Weinstein has denied having non-consensual sex with anyone.
Reuters has been unable to independently confirm any of the accusations against Weinstein.
Hayek's spokeswoman had no immediate comment on Wednesday.
Police in New York, Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and London have said they are investigating allegations of sexual assault or rape by Weinstein.
Hayek wrote in the article that she was inspired to share her experiences after other women came forward. Her account largely centered around the time she was involved with making the 2002 film, "Frida," in which she portrayed Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.
Hayek wrote that she was pleased to have the opportunity to work with Weinstein and Miramax, which he then owned, because it was "synonymous with quality, sophistication and risk taking in films." But, she wrote, she found herself rebuffing sexual advances and requests from Weinstein.
"No to letting him give me oral sex," Hayek wrote as one of several examples. "And with every refusal came Harvey's Machiavellian rage."
Hayek wrote that Weinstein was threatening to shut down the production of "Frida" and that he pressured her into doing a sex scene with another woman in the film. Hayek said that when she went to film the scene, "... for the first and last time in my career, I had a nervous breakdown."
The actress, who called Weinstein a "passionate cinephile, a risk taker, a patron of talent in film, a loving father and a monster," wrote, "I never showed Harvey how terrified I was of him."
"Until there is equality in our industry, with men and women having the same value in every aspect of it, our community will continue to be a fertile ground for predators," she wrote.
Baird issued a statement on behalf of Weinstein that disputed Hayek's version of events.
"Mr. Weinstein regards Salma Hayek as a first-class actress and cast her in several of his movies, among them 'Once Upon a Time in Mexico,' 'Dogma,' and 'Studio 54.' He was very proud of her Best Actress Academy Award nomination for 'Frida' and continues to support her work," the statement said.
"While Jennifer Lopez was interested in playing Frida and at the time was a bigger star, Mr. Weinstein overruled other investors to back Salma as the lead," it said.
The statement also said Miramax put up half of the money in a film with a budget of more than $12 million, and also noted that there was "creative friction" on the film, which it said "served to drive the project to perfection."
"Mr. Weinstein does not recall pressuring Salma to do a gratuitous sex scene with a female costar and he was not there for the filming," the statement said. "All of the sexual allegations as portrayed by Salma are not accurate and others who witnessed the events have a different account of what transpired."
(Reporting by Chris Kenning; Editing by Ben Klayman and Paul Tait)