Natalie Portman was mostly applauded for wearing a black-and-gold Dior outfit that paid tribute to snubbed female filmmakers at the 92nd Academy Awards — but Rose McGowan, for one, was not a fan. Now Portman has responded to McGowan slamming her ensemble as “deeply offensive” on social media.
“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 in a statement provided by her representatives Wednesday. “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.”
She added, “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.”
Portman turned heads at Sunday’s Oscars ceremony when she showed up on the red carpet wearing a cloak embroidered with the last names of several female filmmakers who were shut out of the (all-male) Best Director nominations: Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers), Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Mati Diop (Atlantics), Marielle Heller (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), Melina Matsoukas (Queen and Slim), Alma Har’el (Honey Boy), and Céline Sciamma (Portrait of a Lady on Fire).
In a Facebook post Tuesday, McGowan said Portman’s sartorial choice was not brave but “More like an actress acting the part of someone who cares. As so many of them do.” She added, “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 also called out Portman for not working with many female directors during her lengthy career.
In her statement Wednesday, Portman said, “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.”
She added, “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.”