Paltrow played a "much more active role than anybody’s ever known" said New York Times reporter and book co-author Jodi Kantor. Picture: AP

New York - Gwyneth Paltrow was instrumental in bringing down Harvey Weinstein by recruiting other Hollywood stars to speak out against him, a new book claims.

The actress reportedly worked behind the scenes with journalists probing his history of inappropriate sexual behaviour.

Paltrow played a "much more active role than anybody’s ever known" said New York Times reporter and book co-author Jodi Kantor.

But it was "hair-raising" for her because movie mogul Weinstein had made her a star and she feared that the story would end her career.

At one point Weinstein arrived early to a party at Paltrow’s house so she hid in her bathroom and phoned reporters asking what to do.

She had first allegedly fallen victim to him early in her career – which prompted her then boyfriend Brad Pitt to confront the film producer.

WATCH: How the #MeToo story broke

The details are revealed in "She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement", which details Weinstein’s downfall since October 2017 after his alleged crimes were exposed in articles in the New York Times and the New Yorker.

More than 80 women have since come forward to speak out against the 67-year-old who is due to go on trial in January accused of a string of sexual assaults and "predatory" sexual behaviour.

But in the beginning it was extremely difficult to persuade anyone to open up, said Kantor and Meghan Twohey, another New York Times journalist who co-wrote the book which is out this week.

Paltrow became a "crucial" early source, even though she refused to go on the record until later. Kantor told CBS: "She did play a much more active role than anybody’s ever known. But it was hair-raising for her, because Harvey Weinstein had been such an important influence".

Her decision was especially hard as Weinstein cast a 22-year-old, relatively unknown Paltrow in the lead role in the adaptation of Jane Austen’s "Emma" which made her a star. He also made her the lead in Shakespeare in Love, cementing her status.

Speaking to NBC’s Today show, Miss Twohey said: "Gwyneth Paltrow was one of Harvey’s biggest stars.

"He’d presented himself as a godfather to her so many people will be surprised to discover that when so many other actresses were reluctant to get on the phone and scared to tell the truth about what they’d experienced at his hands, Gwyneth was one of the first people to get on the phone and she was determined to help this investigation. Even when Harvey Weinstein showed up to a party at her house early and she was forced to hide in the bathroom."

Twohey added: "Harvey Weinstein was extremely aware and extremely scared about what the implications would be if his biggest star went on the record."

In an interview, Kantor gave new details about the time that Weinstein assaulted Paltrow when she was 22. Now 46, Paltrow has said that Weinstein put his hands on her and suggested they give each other massages in his suite at the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel.

Paltrow refused and told her then boyfriend, Brad Pitt, who confronted Weinstein at a premiere.

Twohey said that Paltrow was vulnerable as she was trying to get a job from Weinstein at the time.

Paltrow had spoken to the New York Times about the incident before but it was not until five days after their first story about Weinstein.

Ashley Judd agreed to be named in that first piece, as did actress Rose McGowan and other women. The report detailed how Weinstein had used settlements to keep allegations quiet for years.

The book includes a letter sent to Weinstein from his brother Bob, who ran his movie empire with him, two years before he was exposed as an alleged abuser. It said: "You have brought shame to the family and your company through your misbehaviour."

Daily Mail