Harvey Weinstein, whose vast legacy of sexual assault and intimidation came to full public light last week, made his big Oscar breakthrough with the Irish movie “My Left Foot,” starring Daniel Day-Lewis and directed by Jim Sheridan.
However, actor Daniel Day-Lewis was no fan of Weinstein despite the fact he won his first Oscar for “My Left Foot.” He told Weinstein, “There’s only one part of you that works – the ability to pick scripts and pick movies. Otherwise, you’re a complete disaster as a person.”
Weinstein later revealed how he took an art house movie and created a new path to getting an Oscar.
According to Weinstein, the race for Best Picture was always decided by the big studios. “Each studio would pick their movie and say ‘Okay, we’re releasing this at Christmas’ … the studio would come in and say, ‘Okay, we’ve got 800 votes and Paramount has 900.’ That’s how movies used to get nominated. There would be the rare exception with a great, quality film.”
No one else, it seemed, got a look in because they could not get it on screen.
Weinstein changed the status quo with “My Left Foot,” the Jim Sheridan/Noel Pearson Indie movie from 1989 that won Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis and earned a Best Picture nomination.
Read more: Daniel Day-Lewis has retired from acting
According to Weinstein, it all came down to just sending out the movie via videotape. “It used to be, ‘We didn’t watch the movie’ and you’d have to see the movie in a theater … We changed that with ‘My Left Foot.'”
Weinstein expressed deep regret that another Irish movie he backed floundered at the box office. He told a Tribeca Film Festival audience in 2015 that he believed the film didn’t get the proper treatment.
“Gabriel Byrne pitched [it] to me at a restaurant. It was called ‘Into the West,’ and probably not too many people saw it. It was with Ellen Barkin.
“It’s a beautiful movie … and I loved the movie, but nobody [went]. Maybe I sold it like a family movie – I don’t know what I did wrong. So I just couldn’t help myself. I took an ad out in the New York Times and said ‘This movie is great. It’s not playing anywhere, and the reason it’s not doing well is because we as distributors did a bad job. And Peter Bart [of Miramax] calls me and goes, ‘What are you doing? You’re an idiot!'” I’ve done bad jobs, and I took a page in the New York Times to admit it.”
Given all that has transpired, how true Day-Lewis has proved to be.