The wife of Roman Polanski, French actress Emmanuelle Seigner, said Sunday she had rejected an invitation to join the body that awards the Oscars in protest at its decision to expel her husband over his historic statutory rape conviction in the US.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences last month announced that it had swelled its ranks by more than 900 members, as part of its drive for a more inclusive Hollywood.
The Oscar-awarding body announces a round of invitations every year, and has been bolstering its ethnic and female representation following criticism over its predominantly white, male membership.
But in an open letter published by France’s Journal du Dimanche, Seigner said: “How can I pretend to ignore that the Academy a few weeks ago kicked out my husband, Roman Polanski, to satisfy the zeitgeist. The same Academy that rewarded him with the Oscar for best director for “The Pianist” in 2003. Curious amnesia!
“This Academy probably thinks that I am an actress sufficiently arriviste, without character to forget that she has been married for 29 years to one of the greatest directors,” she added.
The 84-year-old director of “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Chinatown” was accused of drugging a 13-year-old girl before raping her at the film star Jack Nicholson’s house in Los Angeles in 1977.
He admitted statutory rape after a number of more serious charges were dropped, and spent 48 days in custody to undergo psychiatric evaluation before being released.
According to court documents, Polanski was promised by the judge overseeing the case that the seven weeks he spent in custody would be the only time he would serve.
But in 1978, convinced the judge was going to scrap his plea deal and send him to prison — possibly for decades — to avoid a public backlash, he left for France.
The director has since refused to return without assurances that he would not serve additional time in prison.