Natalie Portman responded to Rose McGowan calling her Oscars cape with female director names ‘deeply offensive’

Natalie Portman has responded to Rose McGowan’s lengthy Facebook post on Wednesday in which McGowan called Portman’s Oscars cape“deeply offensive.” The cape featured the embroidered names of female directors whose work wasn’t nominated by the Academy.

Portman released a statement in response on Wednesday, which read: “I agree with Ms. McGowan that it is inaccurate to call me ‘brave’ for wearing a garment with women’s names on it.

“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.”

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Portman conceded that she hasn’t worked on many projects directed by women, particularly feature films: “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.”

Natalie Portman won best actress at the 2011 Oscars for her role in

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Natalie Portman won best actress at the 2011 Oscars for her role in “Black Swan.”
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Fox Searchlight Pictures

However, the Oscar-winner did highlight the work she has done with female filmmakers: “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.”

“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. “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.”

In McGowan’s Wednesday Facebook post, she called Portman’s cape, “The kind of protest that gets rave reviews from the mainstream media for its bravery.”

“Brave? No, not by a long shot. More like an actress acting the part of someone who cares.”

McGowan continued: “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.”

Natalie Portman had the names of female directors not nominated for the best director Oscar embroidered onto her dress.

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Natalie Portman had the names of female directors not nominated for the best director Oscar embroidered onto her dress.
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ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images/ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

McGowan is the first high-profile figure who has spoken out against Portman but joins the growing discourse going against the actress after people commented on her cape on Twitter.

Some commenters pointed out that Portman’s production company handsomecharliefilms has only ever hired one female director – Portman herself. McGowan touched on this, writing: “Natalie, you have worked with two female directors in your very long career- one of them was you. You have a production company that has hired exactly one female director- you.”

Portman has worked with three female directors in feature films, but two of those were anthology movies that had several directors. They were Mira Nair (“New York, I Love You,” which Portman also directed part of herself) and Vanita Shastry (“The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards”).

“Planetarium” is the only film that Portman has starred in that is solely directed by a female director, other than the films she has directed herself.

Rose McGowan speaks at a news conference outside a Manhattan courthouse after the arrival of Harvey Weinstein at day 1 of the Harvey Weinstein criminal trial in New York City court on January 6, 2020.

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Rose McGowan speaks at a news conference outside a Manhattan courthouse after the arrival of Harvey Weinstein at day 1 of the Harvey Weinstein criminal trial in New York City court on January 6, 2020.
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RW/MediaPunch /IPX

McGowan, who is currently promoting her book “Brave,” which her website describes as a “no-holds-barred, pull-no-punches memoir/manifesto,” said that Portman’s type of activism is “a pervasive sickness that needs its own medicine.

“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.”

“There is no law that says you need to hire women, work with women, or support women. By all means, you do you. But I am saying stop pretending you’re some kind of champion for anything other than yourself.”

McGowan finished by writing: “I’ll be over here raising my voice and fighting for change without any compensation. That is activism. Until you and your fellow actresses get real, do us all a favor and hang up your embroidered activist cloak, it doesn’t hang right.”

Three of the films by female directors featured on Portman's cape:

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Three of the films by female directors featured on Portman’s cape: “Hustlers” (Lorene Scafaria), “Little Women” (Greta Gerwig), and “The Farewell” (Lulu Wang).
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STXfilms/Sony Pictures Releasing/A24

Portman’s gown featured eight names in total: Lorene Scafaria (“Hustlers”), Lulu Wang (“The Farewell”), Greta Gerwig (“Little Women”), Mati Diop (“Atlantics”), Marielle Heller (“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”), Melina Matsoukas (“Queen & Slim”), Alma Har’el (“Honeyboy”), and Céline Sciamma (“Portrait of a Lady On Fire”).

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