Director Roman Polanski, who is in the midst of a press tour promoting his new film about a man wrongly accused of espionage, said in an interview ahead of the Venice Film Festival that most people don’t understand anything about his child rape conviction.
Polanski, who is still getting his films funded despite the rise of the Me Too movement, made the comments in an interview with controversial French writer Pascal Bruckner that was distributed as part of the press notes for “An Officer And A Spy,” his film that will premiere at the film festival Friday.
“Most of the people who harass me do not know me and know nothing about the case,” he said, according to the press notes obtained by Deadline on Thursday. The interview is clearly sympathetic to Polanski, with Bruckner asking him how he’ll “survive the present-day neo-feminist McCarthyism” of women exposing predatory men in Hollywood.
“My work is not therapy,” the 86-year-old French-Polish director said. “However, I must admit that I am familiar with many of the workings of the apparatus of persecution shown in the film, and that has clearly inspired me.”
Since 1978, Polanski has lived in exile in France, where he fled to avoid a lengthy prison sentence in the U.S. after pleading guilty to the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl as part of a plea deal in 1977. His decision to create a film about a man who was falsely accused, imprisoned for five years and then exonerated raised eyebrows when he announced it last year, just a few months after the organization behind the Oscars, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, expelled him.
Polanski also suggested in the interview that his public “persecution” began with the murder of his pregnant wife Sharon Tate in 1969.
“I was already going through a terrible time, the press got hold of the tragedy and, unsure of how to deal with it, covered it in the most despicable way, implying, among other things, that I was one of the people responsible for her murder, against a background of satanism,” Polanski said.
Tate’s death at the hands of the Manson Family 50 years ago has been widely explored in film and TV this year.
“All this still haunts me today,” Polanski said, apparently disputing the rape conviction. “It is like a snowball, each season adds another layer. Absurd stories by women I have never seen before in my life who accuse me of things which supposedly happened more than half a century ago.”
Polanski won’t be attending the premier of his film Friday, Vanity Fair reported.