Director Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot arrive at the "Wonder Woman" Los Angeles Premiere held at The Pantages Theatre on Thursday, May 25, 2017 in Hollywood, Calif..
(photo credit: STHANLEE B. MIRADOR/SIPA USA/TNS)
Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins on Wednesday defended presenting an award from the Jewish National Fund to Hollywood director Brett Ratner, who two days later was accused of sexual harassment.
Writing on Twitter, Jenkins said what the Los Angeles Times reported about Ratner on Wednesday was not the man she knew.
“I’m extremely distressed to read these terrible allegations against Brett Ratner,” she wrote. “When I spoke of Brett, I spoke of my own experiences with him, which were not these at all. I have never witnessed nor been aware of anything that is now being described.”
On Sunday night in Los Angeles, Jenkins presented Ratner with the Tree of Life award from the JNF. During her speech, she spoke of his generosity and giving spirit.
“He wants greatness for all, I’ve seen him help so many people,” Jenkins said at the awards dinner. “He always opens his heart, truly believes in other people.”
Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot was originally supposed to present Ratner with the award, but backed out citing scheduling conflicts. Days before the award was presented, rumors swirled that she may have canceled due to these allegations, which had yet to be widely reported.
Patty Jenkins gives a speech at the Jewish National Fund dinner in Los Angeles, October 29, 2017. (YouTube/Deadline Hollywood)
The JNF refused to answer questions about the award to Ratner. Calls and emails to the organization’s New York and Los Angeles offices for the past week have gone unanswered.
On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times published allegations of sexual assault and harassment by six different women against Ratner. Through his lawyer, he denied all of the accusations. The New York Times spoke with a seventh woman who made similar claims.
Danielle Berrin, a reporter for The Jewish Journal, has written about Ratner’s improper behavior for years. In a 2008 interview with him, Berrin wrote that he repeatedly harassed her, hit on her, and cornered her, making her uncomfortable.
He said he wanted to date her because she looks “like a WASP,” and insistently asked her out: “I really want to pursue you... When are we going out? I like you.
Are you gonna make me wait? Don’t make me wait,” she wrote. Later, she added, “Ratner drapes his arm around me and tries to hold my hand.”
During the interview, director James Toback – who has recently been accused by hundreds of women of assault – was also present. In 2011, Berrin called Ratner a “lecherous lothario,” and said that during the earlier interview she remembers “repeatedly removing Ratner’s hands from between my legs.”
According to Deadline, Ratner has filed a libel lawsuit against a separate woman who accused him in a Facebook post of raping her 12 years ago.
Also Wednesday, Ratner stepped away from his financing deal with media giant Warner Bros. “until these personal issues are resolved.” Ratner directed the Rush Hour films and X-Men: The Land Stand and produced many movies including The Revenant.
While Jenkins said she was shocked to hear the accusations against Ratner, she offered support for the woman making the allegations.
“To be very clear, I am definitely not okay with this kind of behavior,” she continued.
“Sexual harassment and assault are NEVER okay and I stand with and defend all of the men and women who are revealing these horrific encounters all over this industry and this world. I hope their disclosures bring about real change for all of us, and I am deeply grateful to them for their bravery.”
Ratner, a yeshiva day school graduate, is also a board member of The Simon Wiesenthal Center.