Asia Argento Says She Knew About Luc Besson Sexual Assault Allegations
On Saturday, French director Luc Besson was accused of raping a 27-year-old French actress who had worked with him on two films. Almost simultaneously, actress and director Asia Argento, one of Harvey Weinstein’s most vocal accusers, was giving a fiery speech at the Cannes Closing Ceremony implicating the festival and the institution in sheltering Weinstein and people like him. When asked if she knew about the allegation against Besson, Argento said she’d been aware of them for almost a year.
When The Hollywood Reporter spoke to Argento after her speech and asked her about the Besson allegation, Argento answered, “I’ve known for eight months.” The unnamed French actress accused Besson of drugging her and raping her in a Paris hotel, claiming that when he left he gave her a wad of bills. Besson, through his lawyer, has maintained his innocence: “Mr. Besson fell off his chair when he learned of these accusations, which he flatly denies,” read the director’s statement. The French police have been investigating the claims since they were made on Saturday.
“I was raped by Harvey Weinstein here at Cannes,” Argento said in her Cannes speech before delivering the award for Best Actress. “I was 21 years old. The festival was his hunting ground… Even tonight sitting among you, there are those that need to be held accountable for their conduct against women. You know who you are. But most importantly we know who you are, and we will not allow you to get away with it any longer,” she finished, to thunderous applause.
Argento said that there was some pushback to her delivering her speech onstage: “I said I’ll do it. But I’m not going to read this s---,” she said. “There was resistance [to me going off-script] but we have to do this. We have to bring it back to the victims.”