Director William Friedkin admits that there is definitely an imbalance in the number of female directors working in Hollywood, but it’s not the result of discrimination.

In an extensive interview with Cinephilia & Beyond, the director of The Exorcist weighed in on the diversity debate, calling Hollywood “an open playing field.”

“I’ve been in Hollywood for 50 years and I have never met an executive of a television or movie company or a talent agency, that was prejudiced against people of different colors or against women,” Friedkin said. “I’ve never met anyone. Now, why there are more men directing films than women, I can’t answer that. But it’s not because of prejudice.”

Friedkin went on to suggest that filmmakers should be hired based exclusively on talent, saying, “If you’re good enough, you’re gonna work. All this other stuff to me is just smoke screen.”

“It’s a question like why there are more white basketball or football players in America,” he continued. “Most of them are black, or from another country. Why is that? The only answer to that is that they compete and that they’re better! Wherever women can compete, they get the jobs. I don’t know anyone who’s prejudiced against African-Americans or women, I’ve just never seen it. Why is that there are more black athletes? Because they’re better. So what should we do? Should we get some legislation or pass some rules that there have to be more white players? No, you can’t do that!”

Friedkin also cited the success of Kathryn Bigelow, calling her one of the top directors currently working in film, and he repeatedly praised Creed director Ryan Coogler.

“He’s got the talent, and nobody gives a flying f— what color he is,” Friedkin said about Coogler. “I had people work on my films who are African-American, who are women, and not because they are African-American or women, but based on what I thought was their merit. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t do that. Anyone who would do that, anyone who would deny a talented woman, or a talented member of a racial minority, a job is just an a–hole and not fit to be in a position to hire. Are there a–holes in every business every industry, in every country? You bet. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be cured by some kind of diversity rule.”

Read the full interview with Friedkin at Cinephilia & Beyond.