McGowan, the former Charmed and Scream star turned activist and prominent figure in the Harvey Weinstein case, called Portman a “fraud” after the Black Swan actress hit the Oscars red carpet on Feb. 9 in a cape embroidered with the names of women directors snubbed by the Academy. None of the five nominees for Best Director, a category ultimately won by Parasite’s Bong Joon-ho, were women, a slight Portman sought to address with her outfit.
But McGowan didn’t agree with those hailing Portman’s sartorial statement as “brave.” Last Tuesday, she took to Facebook to call it “lip service” and “deeply offensive to those of us who actually do the work,” citing the star’s limited filmography with female directors.
“I’m not writing this out of bitterness, I am writing out of disgust,” McGowan added. “I just want her and other actresses to walk the walk.”
Portman responded to McGowan’s criticism with a statement in which she spoke of her struggle to get more projects helmed by female directors off the ground, noting, “I have tried, and I will keep trying.”
“I agree with Ms. McGowan that it is inaccurate to call me 'brave' for wearing a garment with women’s names on it,” the Oscar winner added. “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.
"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," Portman continued. "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.”
Now, McGowan has walked back her original comments. A tweet posted by the Grindhouse actress on Sunday didn’t mention Portman by name, but shared her regrets about “critiquing someone personally” rather than “Hollywood’s ongoing culture of silence” as a whole.
My critique should’ve been about Hollywood’s ongoing culture of silence. I realize that by critiquing someone personally, I lost sight of the bigger picture. All voices, however spoken, are valid. Let’s all keep pushing boundaries in whatever way we can, it’s time to get loud.— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) February 17, 2020
She added that all forms of protest, big and small — including, presumably, a subtle red carpet protest — were “valid.”
Many of McGowan’s followers have commended her for walking back for criticism of Portman.
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