Natalie Portman called a fraud

Natalie Portman wore to the Oscars a dress embroidered with the names of female film-makers overlooked for best director nominations.
Natalie Portman wore to the Oscars a dress embroidered with the names of female film-makers overlooked for best director nominations. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LOS ANGELES • American actress and #MeToo activist Rose McGowan has dismissed as a "fraud" Natalie Portman's Oscar dress embroidered with the names of female film-makers overlooked for best director nominations.

In a post on Facebook, the actress, 46, said she found Portman's red carpet Oscar protest "deeply offensive to those of us who actually do the work".

"I'm not writing this out of bitterness," she added. "I am writing this out of disgust."

McGowan said while the black Dior cape stitched with the names of the snubbed directors got "rave reviews from the mainstream media", it was nothing more than "an actress acting the part of someone who cares".

"Natalie, you have worked with two female directors in your very long career - one of them was you," McGowan wrote. You have a production company that has hired exactly one female director - you."

In a statement to Agence France-Presse, Portman, 38, agreed with McGowan that she did not 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 in the last few weeks, under incredible pressure," she added in a reference to the Hollywood mogul on trial in New York. He was charged with predatory sexual assault.

She also acknowledged that she has not worked with as many female directors as she would have liked and pointed out challenges films directed by women and minorities were up against.

McGowan is among the many women who have accused Weinstein of sexual assault.

She said in her post that while Portman and other actresses have spoken out against the under-representation of women in the movie industry, they did little to effect change.

"Until you and your fellow actresses get real, do us all a favour and hang up your embroidered activist cloak, it doesn't hang right," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2020, with the headline 'Natalie Portman called a fraud'. Print Edition | Subscribe