Natalie Portman has responded to Rose McGowan’s criticism of Natalie Portman’s activist stunt at last weekend’s Academy Awards, where she accused the actress of “acting the part of someone who cares”.
Portman showed solidarity with female filmmakers who weren’t nominated for the Best Director award at the Oscars by wearing a dress embroidered with their names.
Actress and activist McGowan, whose revelations about Harvey Weinstein sparked the #MeToo movement, wrote in a lengthy Facebook post today (February 12) that she finds “Portman’s type of activism deeply offensive to those of us who actually do the work. I’m not writing this out of bitterness, I am writing out of disgust.”
Some thoughts on Natalie Portman and her Oscar ‘protest.’ The kind of protest that gets rave reviews from the mainstream…
The Scream actress wrote of her “disgust”, adding: “Natalie, you have worked with two female directors in your very long career – one of them was you.
“You have a production company that has hired exactly one female director – you.
“What is it with actresses of your ilk? You ‘A-listers’ could change the world if you’d take a stand instead of being the problem,” she continued.
“Yes, you, Natalie. You are the problem. Lip service is the problem. Fake support of other women is the problem.”
The 46-year-old star added that she was “singling” Portman out “because you are the latest in a long line of actresses who are acting the part of a woman who cares about other women.”
Now, Portman has responded to the criticism, saying that the film industry does not offer enough opportunities to female filmmakers.
She said in a statement shared by Variety that she “agrees” with McGowan’s claim that she isn’t ‘brave’ for wearing the dress. “Brave is a term I more strongly associate with actions like those of the women who have been testifying against Harvey Weinstein the last few weeks, under incredible pressure.
“The past few years have seen a blossoming of directing opportunities for women due to the collective efforts of many people who have been calling out the system. The gift has been these incredible films. I hope that what was intended as a simple nod to them does not distract from their great achievements.
“It is true I’ve only made a few films with women. In my long career, I’ve only gotten the chance to work with female directors a few times — I’ve made shorts, commercials, music videos and features with Marya Cohen, Mira Nair, Rebecca Zlotowski, Anna Rose Holmer, Sofia Coppola, Shirin Neshat and myself. Unfortunately, the unmade films I have tried to make are a ghost history.
“As Stacy Smith of USC has well documented, female films have been incredibly hard to get made at studios, or to get independently financed. If these films do get made, women face enormous challenges during the making of them. I have had the experience a few times of helping get female directors hired on projects which they were then forced out of because of the conditions they faced at work.
“After they are made, female-directed films face difficulty getting into festivals, getting distribution and getting accolades because of the gatekeepers at every level. So I want to say, I have tried, and I will keep trying. While I have not yet been successful, I am hopeful that we are stepping into a new day.”
Among the directors Portman nodded to with her Oscars dress were Hustlers‘ Lorene Scafaria, Little Women‘s Greta Gerwig, The Farewell’s Lulu Wang, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood‘s Marielle Heller, Queen & Slim‘s Melina Matsoukas and Portrait of a Lady on Fire‘s Céline Sciamma.
“I wanted to recognise the women who were not recognised for their incredible work this year in my subtle way,” Portman explained to press on the red carpet that night.
Portman is yet to respond to McGowan’s comments.