An interview with actress Anjelica Huston for entertainment news site Vulture generated a wide range of responses Wednesday, with Huston earning praise for her withering candor on various topics as well as condemnation for her defenses of directors Woody Allen and Roman Polanski, who have both been accused of or admitted to sexual misconduct with minors.
Huston is actually a figure in the Polanski saga, as she was arrested after being present when the director, then 43, sexually assaulted 13-year-old Samantha Gailey ― now known as Samantha Geimer ― in 1977.
Polanski pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor in 1977, before infamously fleeing the country in early 1978 to avoid being sentenced. He has not set foot in the U.S. since.
Geimer testified that the director drugged and raped her at the home of Jack Nicholson, whom Polanski directed in 1974’s “Chinatown.” Nicholson was on vacation but Huston, who was Nicholson’s partner at the time, was in the house.
According to an excerpt from her 2014 memoir, Huston remembers seeing Polanski and Geimer at the home, but “thought no more of it.”
“Roman and a girl came around the corner, he introduced me to her and said they had been taking pictures,” she wrote. “She was wearing platform heels and appeared to be quite tall. Roman collected his jacket and cameras, and they left together. I thought no more of it.”
Polanski had seduced Geimer under the guise of taking photos of her for French Vogue, which Geimer believed would help her burgeoning acting career.
“He was friendly, and then right toward the end it got a little scary, and I realized, you know, he had some other intentions, and then I knew I was not where I should be. I just didn’t quite know how to get myself out of there,” Geimer said in a 2003 interview with “Good Morning America.”
According to transcripts of Geimer’s 1977 grand jury testimony that were released when he was arrested in Switzerland in 2009, she recalled a woman ― later reported to be Huston ― knocking on the door of the bedroom where Polanski had taken her.
When asked during her testimony why she didn’t tell Huston about Polanski, Geimer said: “I was still pretty much afraid of him.”
Huston defended Polanski in later court documents. “She seemed sullen, which I thought was a little rude,” she told investigators of Geimer, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“She appeared to be one of those kind of little chicks between ― could be any age up to 25. She did not look like a 13-year-old scared little thing,” Huston said in a probation report filed at the time of Polanski’s guilty plea.
“I don’t think he’s a bad man,” Huston said in the report, according to CNN. “I think he’s an unhappy man.”
She then tried to defend Polanski’s actions as “not an unusual situation,” citing her own previous relationship with an older man when she was 18.
She also attributed it to Polanski’s “European sensibility.”
“Well, see, it’s a story that could’ve happened ten years before in England or France or Italy or Spain or Portugal, and no one would’ve heard anything about it. And that’s how these guys enjoy their time,” Huston said. “It was a whole playboy movement in France when I was a young girl, 15, 16 years old, doing my first collections. You would go to Régine or Castel in Paris, and the older guys would all hit on you. Any club you cared to mention in Europe. It was de rigueur for most of those guys like Roman who had grown up with the European sensibility.”
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.