Roman Polanski calls #MeToo movement “collective hysteria”

The filmmaker has been expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science after he pleaded guilty to the statutory rape of a minor

Roman Polanski has given a controversial interview in which he refers to the #MeToo movement as “collective hysteria”.

The disgraced director fled the USA in 1978 after pleading guilty to the statutory rape of a 13-year-old, leaving the country before he could be sentenced. He later won a Best Picture Oscar for The Pianist in 2002.

Speaking to Newsweek Polska in the days before Oscar organisers took the decision to expel the film-maker on May 3, Polanski also called the #MeToo movement, which has shaken up Hollywood with widespread allegations of serious sexual harassment and assault, “total hypocrisy”.

He made the claim that most people speaking out against perpetrators of sexual harassment do so “chiefly out of fear,” and later compared the entertainment industry’s response to North Korea’s collective mourning for its deceased leaders. “You can’t help laughing,” he told the paper, who printed a full account this week following Polanski’s expulsion from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science.

Roman Polanski is threatening to sue Oscars organisers and is asking them to give him a fair hearing and “avoid an expensive lawsuit”. His lawyer in Poland, Jan Olszewski, claimed to The Associated Press that Polanski’s expulsion bears “psychological abuse of an elderly person” for “populist goals.”

Last year the Academy Awards also expelled Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced movie mogul who faces over 50 allegations of sexual harassment and assault dating back over multiple decades. The Oscars board also voted to expel Bill Cosby last week after he was found guilty of sexual assault.

Director Quentin Tarantino recently apologised after an interview from 2003 resurfaced in which he defended Polanski, and made “ignorant” comments about the woman he raped. “I want to publicly apologise to Samantha Geimer for my cavalier remarks on The Howard Stern Show speculating about her and the crime that was committed against her,” the director told Indiewire.

“I was ignorant, and insensitive, and above all, incorrect.”