Natalie Portman has responded to Rose McGowan’s social media critique of her red carpet protest at the Oscars. The “Black Swan” star created a stir with her decision to wear a black and gold Dior dress that included a cape embroidered with the names of snubbed female directors.
However, her act of haute couture defiance didn’t sit well with McGowan, who called Portman a “fraud” and said wearing the cloak wasn’t an act of bravery, it was, “More like an actress acting the part of someone who cares.” In a statement, Portman agreed with McGowan that she didn’t deserve to be called brave.
“I agree with Ms. McGowan that it is inaccurate to call me ‘brave’ for wearing a garment with women’s names on it,” Portman said. “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.”
McGowan accused Weinstein of raping her at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival, one of dozens of claims against the former movie mogul. She later reached a $100,000 settlement with him.
In her post, McGowan implied that Portman only paid lip service to working with female filmmakers, but noted that she had only worked with a few female directors over the course of her career.
“I find 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. I just want her and other actresses to walk the walk,” McGowan wrote on Facebook. “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.”
Portman went on to state that she hoped that the industry would begin to offer more opportunities for women to direct movies.
“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,” Portman said. “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.”
This year’s Academy Awards were sharply criticized for not highlighting more films from women, with acclaimed works such as Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell” and Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” failing to score directing nominations.
Portman went on to cite studies from Stacy Smith of USC, who has chronicled the lack of studio movies made by women, to claim that films from female filmmakers have a harder time getting greenlit or 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,” Portman said. “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.”