A poignant biopic into the New York Times investigation that launched the #MeToo movement

She Said hits the big screen at an incredibly pertinent moment in the #MeToo movement. Just three weeks ago, the second sexual assault trial against Harvey Weinstein kicked off in Los Angeles. Weinstein, who is already serving a 23-year sentence for rape and sexual assault in New York, is facing charges for allegedly sexually assaulting four women in Los Angeles between 2004 and 2013. The film opens in theatres across the country just days after the emotional testimony of Jennifer Siebel Newsom. Newsom, a filmmaker and the wife of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, claims Weinstein raped her in a hotel in 2005. Her emotional response to a despicable cross-examination (which resulted in her leaving the courtroom in tears) is a powerful reminder of how important investigative journalism is in holding the powerful accountable.

The 2017 Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times investigation by Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor exposed decades of sexual harassment and assault by Weinstein. At the same time, exposing the extensive infrastructure at Miramax that was in place to cover up those abuses. The fallout from the publication of the story “shattered decades of silence around the subject of sexual assault in Hollywood and impelled a shift in American culture that continues to this day.”

Just months after their article was published, producers Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner from Plan B Entertainment and executive producers Megan Ellison and Sue Naegle from Annapurna Films had secured the film rights to the story. According to Gardner, “Jodi and Megan’s investigation was such a watershed moment. Not just for the film industry but for the entire culture. It felt like a story that demanded to be told on film. It felt like a once-in-a-generation moment of reckoning on an issue that has affected, and continues to affect, the lives of millions of women and men.”

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Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) and Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) in She Said

At its core, She Said is a story about the lives of Twohey and Kantor and their unrelenting pursuit of justice. In an age when cries of “fake news” abound, it is a testament to the importance of a free press and its ability to uncover the truth when law enforcement and the courts fail.

Based on the book by the same name, She Said stars two-time Academy Award nominee Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman, An Education) and Emmy nominee Zoe Kazan (The Plot Against America, The Big Sock) as Twohey and Kantor. The film rests largely on their shoulders. These two women pull off this feat with subtle ferocity packed with passionate intensity.

While Mulligan and Kazan spearhead the film, they are surrounded by an award-winning support cast that all handle their characters with poise and emotional fortitude. Oscar nominee Patricia Clarkson (Shutter Island, Pieces of April) as New York Times assistant managing editor Rebecca Corbett. Emmy winner Andre Braugher (Homicide: Life of the Street, The Good Fight) as New York Times then executive editor Dean Baquet. Tony winner Jennifer Ehle (Zero Dark Thirty, Pride and Prejudice) as former Miramas employee Laura Madden. Then, Academy Award nominee Samantha Morton (Minority Report, In America) as former Miramax employee Zelda Perkins. And in a surprise appearance, one of the most prominent faces of the #MeToo movement, Emmy and Golden Globe nominee Ashley Judd (Double Jeopardy, Bug) has a heartbreaking appearance as herself.

Times Up

She Said is unapologetically told through a female lens. The #TimesUp movement continues to push for gender parity in an industry that continues to be predominantly led by older white cis males. However, the female voice of this film is so impactful because it was made by women. As the filmmakers assembled the department heads for the production, they pulled together a majority-female creative team. According to Emmy award-winning director Maria Schrader (I’m Your Man, Unorthodox), “This story is about women standing up, speaking out, and claiming their power. It felt right to have women lead the effort in bringing it to the screen. That being said, I am eager for the day to come when a female-led team will be unremarkable.”

With a screenplay by Oscar winner Rebecca Lenkiewicz (Ida), the film not only deftly handles issues of sexual assault without sensationalizing it (no scenes of any attacks are shown) but dives into issues of postpartum depression, the struggles of motherhood and dealing with breast cancer. The film is produced by Academy Award winners Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner for Plan B Entertainment (Moonlight). Executive produced by Oscar winner Brad Pitt and Lila Yacoub, as well as by Oscar nominee Megan Ellison and Sue Naegle for Annapurna Pictures (Zero Dark Thirty).

So, Pitt actually has a direct connection to Weinstein’s abuse. In 1996, he learned from then-girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow that Weinstein had harassed her. This resulted in Pitt confronting and threatening Weinstein. Brad’s ex-wife, Angelina Jolie, also allegedly accused Weinstein of sexual abuse.

Hoping She Said helps foster more investigative journalism

Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey

The filmmakers and cast hope that She Said will help foster a broader understanding of the importance of investigative journalism. We are at a turbulent moment in our collective culture when reporters often find themselves under attack.

“It’s our job to build people’s confidence in telling the truth. Our greatest hope is that this film could in some way aid in that,” says Jodi Kantor.

Adds Megan Twohey: “My hope is that this film not only highlights the systemic failures that have allowed harassment and abuse to be so pervasive, but that it also is an inspiring example of how brave individuals, and the truth, can bring about incredible change.”

This sentiment is one of the main reasons so many were eager to be involved in the film. According to Kazan, “The thing that’s most meaningful to me is watching these two women, Jodi and Megan, work so diligently, with such iron-clad standards, to craft a story that is airtight. A story that no one can question [in order] to support these women whom they had asked to come forward.”

Mulligan states that “It’s inspiring to see women being so heroic and putting themselves on the line. This film is full of examples of those heroic moments, which makes it a story worth telling.”

She Said opens nationwide in theatres on Friday, November 18th.