Natalie Portman has said her Oscars cape which was embroidered with the names of female filmmakers was a “simple nod” to colleagues after being criticised by actress Rose McGowan.
McGowan dismissed Portman’s gesture as a “protest that gets rave reviews from the mainstream media” but which was “more like an actress acting the part of someone who cares. As so many of them do”.
Writing on Facebook, McGowan added: “I find Portman’s type of activism deeply offensive to those of us who actually do the work.”
She later called her a fraud. Oscar-winner Portman, who is Jewish, has now issued a statement in response.
The Black Swan star said her cape was intended to be a “simple nod” to “incredible films” by female directors and she did not want it to “distract from their great achievements”.
The 38-year-old said she agreed with McGowan that it would be wrong to call her “brave,” saying she associates the term with the women testifying in court against disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein.
McGowan was one of the first women to publicly accuse Weinstein of sexual assault.
In her Facebook post, McGowan implied Portman was not serious about working with female filmmakers, noting she had only worked with a few over her career.
Israeli-American actress Portman conceded it was true she had only made “a few” films with women and appeared to blame the lack of female-directed projects, saying women encounter greater difficulties getting movies made by men.
Portman said she has had experience of helping female filmmakers get hired on projects only for them to be “forced out” because “of the conditions they faced at work”.
She added: “After they are made, female-directed films face difficulty getting into festivals, getting distribution and getting accolades because of the gatekeepers at every level.”
She finished her statement by saying: “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.”
Portman arrived on the red carpet at Sunday’s Oscars wearing a black Dior cape featuring the names of women directors who missed out on a best director nomination.
They included Hustlers director Lorene Scafaria, The Farewell’s Lulu Wang, Little Women’s Greta Gerwig, A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood’s Marielle Heller, Honey Boy’s Alma Har’el, Portrait Of A Lady On Fire’s Celine Sciamma, Atlantic’s Mati Diop and Queen & Slim’s Melina Matsoukas.
Portman told the LA Times: “I wanted to recognise the women who were not recognised for their incredible work this year, in my subtle way.”