The early 2000s were the decade of Sienna Miller’s rise to fame. The Anglo-American actress, now 40, was in high demand for many reasons: a slew of important film roles that gave her high visibility; her it-girl label (which she now denies), that made her an instant style icon; her high-profile relationship with fellow actor Jude Law, and their break up due to his confessed infidelity. Not to mention, the constant media harassment she was a victim of, especially in the British tabloids, which did not hesitate to publish any detail of her life, however small.
At that moment of public exposure, the actress crossed paths with Harvey Weinstein, the US producer, now sentenced to 23 years in prison for two sexual assaults. In a recent interview with The Guardian, she talks about her dealings with him and how she managed to escape his advances. “I was Jude’s girlfriend, and there was probably protection in that. Jude was a big actor for Harvey,” she said, adding: “I called Harvey ‘Pops’ from day one, which I’m sure helped; you’re not going to wank on that.”
The actress also remembers that one day she was rehearsing with Steve Buscemi and the producer asked her to come to his office. “I said, I’m in rehearsal. And he shouted, ‘NOW!’ and sent a car. He sat me down in his office and said, ‘You’re not fucking going out any more, you’re not partying, rah-rah-rah’,” said Miller, while recalling a time of crazy nights and constant tabloid appearances. “I was having a lot of fun, but I managed to go to work on time. And he was standing over me while I was sitting in a chair, lip quivering, and then he slammed the door, and I burst into tears. And then he came back in and said: ‘It’s because I’m fucking proud of you.’ And slammed the door again. You weren’t really inaugurated until Weinstein made you cry. I imagined this is what Hollywood producers were like. I genuinely felt he’d given me the biggest validation. I was so grateful. I wasn’t scared of him, actually. And I was not aware that he was raping people. He asked for one meeting with me in a hotel, and I brought the other producers and it was innocuous. I’ve never been propositioned by anyone, for a job.”
Even more complex was her relationship with the tabloids. In the late summer of 2005, the media crossed the line by reporting that Miller was pregnant. And it was true, but it was a secret. She was 23 years old and was going through a delicate moment: she had just broken up with Law after it became known that he had a relationship with the nanny of his children, the result of a previous marriage to designer Sadie Frost. The actress decided to abort the pregnancy (it was never revealed if Jude was the father of the child), but it was a hard decision to make because of the media pressure and her doubts about who had leaked the information. Miller defined that time as “hell” in the interview..
In that long talk, Miller also talked about how she got through that difficult period. The timing of her pregnancy coincided with a major stage performance of Shakespeare’s As You Like It in London’s West End. “Appearing in public when you’re extremely heartbroken. Trying not to break. All the while being mocked and ridiculed,” she says during the interview, 18 years later.
According to Miller’s version, The Sun found out she was pregnant illegally before publishing the news. In fact, at first, she thought that one of her three close friends she had told about the pregnancy had leaked it, betraying her. But then she realized someone called her doctor posing as someone close to her to get her medical records. “My doctor phoned and said, ‘We sent the documents you asked for.’ And I said, ‘I didn’t ask for any documents,’” she explained to The Guardian.
She remembers that situation as “horrible.” “The anxiety it induced. At the time, it removed any ability I had to think clearly about making a decision. I was in an absolute panic, and already dealing with a huge amount of pain,” she says. In fact, she says she still hates cellphones and won’t let her 10-year-old daughter, Marlowe, have one. “Those days,” she recalled, “the frenzy of it, the madness of what women, specifically, were subjected to. I actually look back at it and it’s like a weird film. Another universe.” She still keeps “four boxes of evidence,” but admits that there’s not much she can do against the tabloids: “You’re going up against a Goliath.”
At the time, the actress considered suing the newspaper (and also the entertainment website Page Six, owned by Rupert Murdoch, which published the information shortly before), but “she didn’t have the resources to pursue the tabloid further,” according to The Guardian. That is why, years later, she has managed to reach an out-of-court settlement with them. ”I wanted to expose the criminality that runs through the heart of this corporation,” she read in a letter outside the court. “A criminality demonstrated clearly and irrevocably by the evidence which I have seen. I wanted to share News Group’s secrets just as they have shared mine.” She now acknowledges that her deal brought in “an astounding amount of money.” “But it’s nothing near what you imagine,” she told the interviewer. “I don’t tell people the actual figure as I’m not allowed to say. But it’s a drop in the ocean. I mean, they won, essentially.” In fact, she acknowledges that she thought this small victory would have had “more of an impact” than it did in the end. But that, despite all this, her twenties had “magical times” and have remained in her heart as one of the best times of her life.
Miller also said in the interview that she has never been very good at coming up with a long-term strategy for her career. “If I’m happy, I’m happy. I’m an absolutely present, in-the-moment person – not much looking back, or further forward. I’ve never known where I’ve wanted to be in 10 years’ time,” she said. In fact, she claims that she doesn’t have too much confidence in herself and that she was raised to be a pleaser. ”I don’t have rock-solid self-esteem. I wish I did,” she confesses. ”Advocating for myself in that way is not who I am. I don’t see myself as valuable. I’m just grateful to be there. I’m trying very hard not to think this way; to switch my mindset into a place where I can say no. I try. And I can’t. Because ultimately, deep down, I am really happy to be there and would probably pay to be there.” In fact, she admits that, before anyone gets there, she herself would joke against her: “I do it endlessly and I have to stop.”