By Joey Nolfi
July 09, 2018 at 02:20 PM EDT

The Academy’s 928-strong class of 2018 has dwindled by one.

Emmanuelle Seigner — French actress and wife of controversial filmmaker Roman Polanski — publicly rejected her invitation to join the American organization Sunday, penning an impassioned open letter renouncing the Oscars in the European publication Le Journal du Dimanche. 

“How can I ignore the fact that a few weeks ago the Academy expelled my husband, Roman Polanski, in an attempt to appease the zeitgeist – the very same Academy which in 2002 awarded him an Oscar for The Pianist! A curious case of amnesia!” Seigner writes of her decision to decline the offer, further referencing the Academy’s May 3 announcement that it had expelled Polanski — a fugitive since fleeing the United States over 40 years ago after pleading guilty to raping a then-13-year-old girl — and convicted sex criminal Bill Cosby for violating its Standards of Conduct.

“The Academy probably thinks I am enough of a spineless, social climbing actress that I would forget that I have been married for the past 29 years to one of the world’s greatest directors. I love him, he is my husband and the father of my children. He has been cast out like a pariah,” Seigner continues. “Yet these same nameless academicians think that I should ‘mount the steps of glory’ behind his back? The insufferable hypocrisy! This proposal is one insult too many. I cannot remain silent any longer. You offend me whilst claiming to want to protect women!”

Seigner’s letter goes on to say that “artists are not exempt from justice,” though she blames the press for taking to Polanski’s case with a desire to punish him beyond his initial jail sentence.

“I feel that all his life, from the Nazis of his childhood to the present day, Roman has been condemned to perpetual flight, without the slightest effort by any part of the media to look at his case with an open mind. On the contrary, they only seek to make it worse,” she explains. “It should be the same justice that exists for all, not a justice that goes back on its word and violates its own principles. That was the case in Los Angeles in 1977, when his first confinement in prison was supposed to be his punishment. Today, Roman has served more than the maximum sentence for the offence [sic] committed.”

Having married Polanski in 1989 after working with him on the 1988 film Frantic, Seigner went on to star in four more of the director’s projects between 1992 and 2017. Though not as prolific a figure on American screens, Seigner has been nominated for two César Awards (the French equivalent to the Oscars) and garnered significant critical praise for her work in internationally renowned pictures like The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and La Vie en Rose.

Representatives for the Academy and Seigner did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment. Read Seigner’s full letter — originally published in Le Journal du Dimanche — below.

I have been asked by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to join it, together with other actresses, in the cause of much-needed feminism. How could anyone doubt my concern for equality between men and women? I have always been a feminist. But how can I ignore the fact that a few weeks ago the Academy expelled my husband, Roman Polanski, in an attempt to appease the zeitgeist – the very same Academy which in 2002 awarded him an Oscar for The Pianist! A curious case of amnesia!

The Academy probably thinks I am enough of a spineless, social climbing actress that I would forget that I have been married for the past 29 years to one of the world’s greatest directors. I love him, he is my husband and the father of my children. He has been cast out like a pariah. Yet these same nameless academicians think that I should ‘mount the steps of glory’ behind his back? The insufferable hypocrisy! This proposal is one insult too many. I cannot remain silent any longer. You offend me whilst claiming to want to protect women!

I can no longer keep quiet about this affair which has transformed the life of my entire family since his arrest in Switzerland on 26 September 2009. We have two children, a son and a daughter. Roman has always been a loving father and a devoted husband. Ever since he was arrested he has been falsely slandered as a pervert. I am the only one who is able to testify just how much he regrets what happened 40 years ago.

And yet, I am powerless when the press publishes scandals he was supposedly involved in – false testimonies, tales of women who claim to have been raped and yet never pressed charges. Barely two weeks ago a website announced my husband’s imminent death!

Samantha Geimer, his one and only victim, has been asking for years for this case to be closed, yet the courts and the media still stubbornly refuse to listen to her. She was indignant when she heard that Roman had been thrown out of the Academy. But when you become a symbol, forgiveness is impossible.

I feel that all his life, from the Nazis of his childhood to the present day, Roman has been condemned to perpetual flight, without the slightest effort by any part of the media to look at his case with an open mind.  On the contrary, they only seek to make it worse.

Roman Polanski is the creator of unforgettable female characters, portrayed by Sharon Tate, Catherine Deneuve, Mia Farrow, Faye Dunaway, Nastassja Kinski and Sigourney Weaver. He bears no resemblance to this caricature of maleness, this symptom of the evil that ravages cinema. And yet the Academy expects me not support this man?

Of course, artists are not exempt from justice. But it should be the same justice that exists for all, not a justice that goes back on its word and violates its own principles. That was the case in Los Angeles in 1977, when his first confinement in prison was supposed to be his punishment. Today, Roman has served more than the maximum sentence for the offence committed.

I can understand his distrust of the justice of men. It is not by chance that his favourite film is Odd Man Out, by Carol Reed.

Sometimes, I see the hurt in his eyes. Sometimes, he astounds me by his zest to live. Only the truth and these words that I have just written can ease my pain.

As for the members of the Academy, I have only one thing to say to them : this is one woman you won’t have.”

Emmanuelle Seigner

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