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Rose McGowan said Natalie Portman was not "brave". And Natalie Portman agreed with her.

When Natalie Portman walked the Oscars red carpet this week, her custom Dior cape was adorned with the names of female directors.

The embroidered names, including Hustlers director Lorene Scafari, The Farewell director Lulu Wang, Little Women director Greta Gerwig, A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood director Marielle Heller and Queen & Slim director Melina Matsoukas, represented women who had not been nominated at this year’s Academy Awards.

No female director was nominated for Best Director, for the ninth time in a decade.

In 2018, Natalie Portman took a jab at the all male directors nominated for a Golden Globe. Post continues below video.

Video via Golden Globes

“I wanted to recognise the women who were not recognised for their incredible work this year in my subtle way,” Portman explained to the Los Angeles Times.

The dress earned Portman praise online, including from peers like Reese Witherspoon, Julianne Moore, Halle Berry, Naomi Watts, Kerry Washington and Laura Dern.

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However, some began to look at Portman’s filmography, pointing out that she had only ever worked with two female directors, the BBC reported. And one of them was herself.

Her production company Handsomecharlie Films has made seven films, only one of which was directed by a woman. Again, that woman was Portman.

Then came public criticism from actor and activist Rose McGowan in the form of a scathing Facebook post, which argued that Portman’s outfit choice was not the ‘brave’ act many suggested.

“Brave? No, not by a long shot. More like an actress acting the part of someone who cares. As so many of them do. I find Portman’s type of activism deeply offensive to those of us who actually do the work. I’m not writing this out of bitterness, I am writing out of disgust. I just want her and other actresses to walk the walk,” McGowan wrote.

Mamamia’s daily entertainment The Spill discusses Rose McGowan calling Natalie Portman a hypocrite. Post continues below audio.


Directly addressing Portman, McGowan pointed out Portman’s track record with female directors and said her kind of “lip service” is the problem.

“As I wrote in my book Brave, what goes on behind the screen, goes onscreen, goes into the world. And it’s a pervasive sickness that needs its own medicine. What you do affects the world, Natalie. As does what you do not do.

“I am singling you out because you are the latest in a long line of actresses who are acting the part of a woman who cares about other women. Actresses who supposedly stand for women, but in reality do not do much at all. Of course women in the world will keep buying the perfumes you promote, the movies you make, and think they’re buying into who you are. But who are you?

“I was at a Women in Film event that you spoke at once, Natalie. You reeled off depressing statistics and then we all went back to our salads. I quickly realised you and the other women speakers (and that joke of an organisation) are just… frauds. You say nothing, you do nothing.”

McGowan continued to say that Portman should “stop pretending you’re some kind of champion for anything other than yourself”, while she would continue to raise her voice and fight for change.

rose mcgowan
Rose McGowan joined accusers and protesters outside Harvey Weinstein's trial in New York in January. Image: Getty.
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In response, Portman essentially agreed.

"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, Variety reported. "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."

McGowan accused Weinstein of raping her at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival, only one of dozens of claims made against the former movie mogul.

Portman went on to say she hoped the movie industry would continue evolving, offering women more opportunities to direct films and directly addressed her filmography.

"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," she said.

Natalie Portman. Image: Getty.

"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.

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"It is true I’ve only made a few films with women. In my long career, I’ve only gotten the chance to work with female directors a few times - I’ve made shorts, commercials, music videos and features with Marya Cohen, Mira Nair, Rebecca Zlotowski, Anna Rose Holmer, Sofia Coppola, Shirin Neshat and myself. Unfortunately, the unmade films I have tried to make are a ghost history."

Those unmade films include Jane Got a Gun, which was to be directed by Lynne Ramsey before she was forced out following a dispute about the film's editing, and Thor: The Dark World which was initially going to be directed by Patty Jenkins.

Portman departed Marvel after the film, with rumours persisting that she was unhappy that Jenkins was cut. She will return in upcoming film Thor: Love and Thunder, directed by Oscar winner Taika Waititi.

In her statement, Portman acknowledged the many times she had advocated for women directors who were overlooked for roles or, if they got the job, faced enormous challenges and in some cases were forced out and replaced by men.

"I have had the experience a few times of helping get female directors hired on projects which they were then forced out of because of the conditions they faced at work," Portman said.

"After they are made, female-directed films face difficulty getting into festivals, getting distribution and getting accolades because of the gatekeepers at every level.

"So I want to say, 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."

Feature images: Getty.

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