Inspiration

How Anthony Bourdain Became a Fierce #MeToo Advocate in His Support for Asia Argento

"I met one extraordinary woman with an extraordinary and painful story."
IMAGE GETTY IMAGES/JASON LAVERIS
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"I ain’t 'woke'. I was lucky enough to meet one, truly extraordinary woman," Anthony Bourdain tweeted in December after he became one of the most prominent male figures to speak out in support of the #MeToo movement.

The chef and host of CNN's Parts Unknown, who was found dead of an apparent suicide Friday, became a strong voice in the movement against sexual harassment and assault after his girlfriend, Asia Argento, came forward as one of the first Harvey Weinstein accusers in an interview for The New Yorker.

In the exposé, the Italian-born actress and filmmaker accused Weinstein of assaulting her in a hotel room in the French Riviera when she was only 21. “He asks me to give a massage. I was, like, ‘Look, man, I am no fucking fool,’” Argento recalled. “But, looking back, I am a fucking fool. And I am still trying to come to grips with what happened.” (Weinstein responded to the New Yorker allegations with the following statement: "Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances.")

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After Argento's personal account was released, Bourdain took to social media to speak out against Weinstein. "This Weinstein story is deeply personal to me—and far far far more personal and painful to people I love and people I care about," he wrote.

In the following months, he also called out alleged abusers in the restaurant industry, including New Orleans chef John Besh and Food Network star Mario Batali (a close friend) writing in a Medium essay: “In these current circumstances, one must pick a side. I stand unhesitatingly and unwaveringly with the women. Not out of virtue, or integrity, or high moral outrage — as much as I’d like to say so — but because late in life, I met one extraordinary woman with a particularly awful story to tell, who introduced me to other extraordinary women with equally awful stories.”

Argento and Bourdain first met in 2016, when she appeared on a Rome episode of Parts Unknown during season eight. Throughout their relationship, the actress continued to collaborate with Bourdain on his CNN series. On May 30, she shared on Instagram that she had directed a new episode that was filmed in Hong Kong.

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Argento, who was 19 years his junior, inspired Bourdain in his work as well as his personal life. In a September interview with People, Bourdain shared how the actress weighed in on his CNN series.

“[Asia] has spent a lifetime in film since she was 9 years old," he said. "She comes from generations of filmmakers on both sides of the family. She’s a really accomplished director and writer along with being a longtime actress and a real sponge for culture, music, literature. So she’s enormously helpful and inspiring."

“We were shooting in Nigeria and I get a text [from Asia] saying, ‘Are you aware of the Nigeria psychedelic rock scene from the 1970s?’ and I’m like, ‘What? No!'” he continued. “This was an enormously helpful, inspiring thing that altered the sound for the show and changed up a lot.”

Days before his death, Bourdain gave an interview to IndieWire about his relationship with Argento. The writer describes Bourdain as "beaming" when talking proudly about his partner. In the interview, he commended her recent speech at Cannes, which made a powerful statement about the #MeToo movement.

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“From the second she said she’d been invited to present an award, I knew it would be a nuclear bomb,” Bourdain said. “I was so proud of her. It was absolutely fearless to walk right into the lion’s den and say what she said, the way she said it. It was an incredibly powerful moment, I thought. I am honored to know someone who has the strength and fearlessness to do something like that.”

After the news of Bourdain's death on Friday, Argento tweeted: "Anthony gave all of himself in everything that he did. His brilliant, fearless spirit touched and inspired so many, and his generosity knew no bounds. He was my love, my rock, my protector."

To those who are in emotional crisis and in need of immediate assistance, please contact Hopeline at 804.4673 and 0917.558.4673.

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Eileen Reslen
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