Convicted rapist and Hollywood director Roman Polanski says he feels that he is being “harassed” in the #MeToo era and that the constant accusations of sex abuse against him are “absurd.”
Polanski, who pleaded guilty to drugging and then raping a teen and who fled to France before his sentencing back in 1977, has also been accused by other women since he fled the country — especially in the rise of the #MeToo movement. Indeed, he was only just last year expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the wake of #MeToo avtivism.
The 86-year-old director gave an interview upon the release of his latest film, An Officer and a Spy, a film that follows the famed “Dreyfus Affair” which embroiled the French government with charges of corruption and anti-Semitism in the late 1890s. Artillery Captain Alfred Dreyfus was convicted of treason on false documents that reached all the way to the top of the French military. After almost a decade of explosive trials, Dreyfus was finally cleared of all charges but not before serving several years at hard labor for something he didn’t do. The incident practically brought the entire French government to its knees. The trial also spawned the famed rally cry, “J’Accuse!”
With his new film centered upon a man wrongly accused, Polanski is issuing a “J’Accuse!” call of his own.
The director was interviewed in Venice late last week where he accused #MeToo pursuers of “harassing” him. And he once again pleaded his innocence despite his rape conviction.
Polanski claimed that working on a movie about a man wrongly accused “helped him a lot” in dealing with what he claims is the persecution he has experienced — especially recently.
The interviewer claimed that those criticizing him are “present-day neo-feminist McCarthyists.”
“Working, making a film like this helps me a lot. In the story, I sometimes find moments I have experienced myself, and I can see the same determination to deny the facts and condemn me for things I have not done,” Polanski said. “Most of the people who harass me do not know me and know nothing about the case… I must admit that I am familiar with many of the workings of the apparatus of persecution shown in the film, and that has clearly inspired me.”
The director added that the accusations that he had something to do with the 1969 murder of his wife, Sharon Tate, have also vexed him and that the growing accusations by other women that he raped them like he did 13-year-old Samantha Geimer are “absurd.”
“All this still haunts me today. Anything and everything. It is like a snowball, each season adds another layer,” Polanski said before slamming the “absurd stories by women I have never seen before in my life who accuse me of things which supposedly happened more than half a century ago.”
The Venice Film Festival has taken heavy criticism for including Polanski’s film. But festival officials have defended the inclusion saying that the film should be judged on its own merit and not on who directed it.
Polanski is still a wanted criminal in the U.S. for having fled justice in 1977. Polanski claims that he should be allowed back in the country and free from further prosecution, but California officials have steadfastly refused to say if they would pursue him on criminal charges if he did ever come back to the U.S.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.