By Ellie Iorizzo, PA Senior Entertainment Reporter
British actress Carey Mulligan said she felt “compelled as a woman” to star in upcoming film She Said because it centres around “female heroism”.
The biographical drama sees Mulligan and Zoe Kazan play the investigative journalists who broke the Harvey Weinstein story in a film about the scandal.
New York Times reporters Megan Twohey (Mulligan) and Jodi Kantor (Kazan) told how the once all-powerful Hollywood mogul had spent decades abusing women.
Carey Mulligan on @SheSaidFilm: ‘It’s such a universal story, we premiered in New York and obviously it has great weight and importance there. We are now on the other side of the world where it had just as big an impact, and so to share this with another audience is so exciting’ pic.twitter.com/pFCFIulPPT
— BFI (@BFI) October 14, 2022
The landmark expose, published in October 2017, helped propel the #MeToo movement into the public consciousness and resulted in Weinstein being found guilty of rape and sentenced to 23 years in prison in 2020.
Arriving at the film’s international premiere at the BFI London Film Festival, Carey told the PA news agency: “I felt compelled as a woman to be part of a story about so much female heroism.
“I really was so fascinated by Megan, the person I am playing in the film.
“She’s an investigative journalist, I really couldn’t kind of get into the head of what it was like to be someone who can ring someone up in the middle of the day and say ‘There is this thing I know about you, will you to tell me and can I tell everyone.’
“To build that trust and to be able to have that kind of relationship with people, I think I was so fascinated by who she was as an individual.”
This is the first time Mulligan and Kazan appear together on screen, though they starred in Ian Rickson’s Broadway production of The Seagull in 2008.
She Said details the investigation into Weinstein and how the reporters brought the mogul down.
Mulligan added: “I think this is an immense sort of important history lesson in a way, this was a sort of enormous event in our society and although things have changed, there’s so much more to do.
“We know by reading the news today how much further there is to go in so many parts of the world and even within our own industry, which has had lots of shifts.
“I think art helps, I think storytelling helps. You can read things in an article and you can read statistics about things changing, but I think so much about storytelling is it brings you into it and makes you feel part of something and I think this film does that.
“I think it makes you feel like you’re in the newsroom with these women when you watch all of these individual efforts come together and make change, and I think that’s really inspiring.”
The film is directed by Emmy-award winning filmmaker Maria Schrader and produced by two-time Oscar winners Jeremy Kleiner and Dede Gardner, who produced 12 Years A Slave and Moonlight.
Schrader said she thinks all women will be able to relate to the film “to a certain degree” – including herself.
She told PA: “Even though it’s five years ago, I remember so clearly living through these weeks and months after the article went public and it changed my life as well.
“It led to countless discussions over the years. I hardly know any woman who doesn’t carry her own stories of at least intimidation, what it’s like growing up in the patriarchy system and society.”
Describing casting Mulligan and Kazan in the leading roles, the director said she “almost had a physical reaction” to the combination because she felt it was “right”.
Director Maria Schrader on the concept: 🗣 ‘It’s a story about people courageously coming forward and sharing their stories. I hope it's inspiring and a reminder of the importance of collective action and communication and bringing light to it all’ #LFF pic.twitter.com/AbAAsM95D3
— BFI (@BFI) October 14, 2022
She added: “They’re not only the finest actors but they’re also intellectuals, believable writers.
“Zoe Kazan is a writer herself, Carey Mulligan has this vibrant mind and I just believe it in every second that these two women are doing that kind of job which is not necessarily a given, even within fantastic actors.
“It was just wonderful to work with them both and their passion and their minds and their hearts and their emotions, this is what makes this movie.”
The film’s international premiere saw Weinstein’s survivors Laura Madden and Zelda Perkins arrive wearing matching yellow t-shirts which read: “You can’t buy my silence.”
Fellow survivor Rowena Chiu, who is portrayed in the film by actress Angela Yeoh, described the film’s premiere as “very overwhelming and deeply surreal”.
.@AngelaHYeoh, who plays one of the survivors, on the importance of the film: ‘As someone who has been a journalist and someone who has survived abuse, it is something I absolutely feel like we need to understand the stories around it’. pic.twitter.com/3ZjdM0tM2R
— BFI (@BFI) October 14, 2022
She told PA: “It’s a whole mix of emotions, I don’t know whether to relate to the film as somebody who’s in it or as a filmgoer so I think I’m still processing.
“I hope that the film will be incredibly impactful, even more so than the book and the movement. These things all build on one another and I think it’s very important that we continue to get the message out about male toxicity in general, but also particularly in the workplace, and sexual harassment in the workplace.
“I think if that message gets through to a wider audience then the film will really have succeeded in what it set out to do.
“The Me Too movement is now in its fifth year and I am often asked about its long-term impact and I think it started off as a cultural movement, but I think unless it morphs into a legal and political movement, it’s difficult for it to have long-term impact.”
Ms Chiu added that her story being adapted to the screen was “deeply emotional”.
“I’m often asked whether because I’ve heard my story so often, I’m now seeing it dramatised as well as in a book, whether that emotional impact fades and I think it never really quite goes away.
“It always feels very bizarre and I do think you feel a conflict of things inside yourself. It’s not one emotion.
“You don’t necessarily feel sad or angry, but you feel a combination of those things. I think that’s hard, it’s pretty difficult to put into words.”
She Said is set for release in Ireland on November 25th.