Roman Polanski says #MeToo movement is ‘mass hysteria’

Film director and convicted child rapist threatens to sue Movie Academy over ‘illegal’ expulsion

Roman Polanski
Roman Polanski won an Oscar for The Pianist in 2003
(Image credit: Getty Images)

French-Polish film director Roman Polanski dismissed the #MeToo movement as “mass hysteria” in an interview shortly before he was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, it has emerged.

The Academy, which organises the Oscars, kicked out the 84-year-old movie maker last week, along with comedian Bill Cosby, “in accordance with the organisation’s Standards of Conduct” in light of sexual assault cases against both men.

Polanski is now threatening to sue over the decision. His lawyer, Harland Braun, has sent a letter to Academy president John Bailey arguing that the group violated the law by expelling Polanski without giving him a chance to “present his side”.

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The threat comes days after Polanski gave his views on the #MeToo movement, in which victims are speaking out about sexual assault allegations in the movie industry and beyond, during an interview with the Polish edition of Newsweek.

Polanski said: “I think this is the kind of mass hysteria that occurs in society from time to time.

“Sometimes it’s very dramatic, like the French Revolution or the St Bartholomew’s Day massacre in France, or sometimes it’s less bloody, like 1968 in Poland or McCarthyism in the US.

“Everyone is trying to back this movement, mainly out of fear... I think it’s total hypocrisy.”

Polanski, who currently lives in France, is wanted in the US for the 1977 rape of Samantha Geimer, who was 13 at the time. Geimer has said that she has forgiven Polanski, reports The Daily Telegraph, and has criticised the Academy’s decision to expel him as “an ugly and cruel action which serves only appearance”.

Polanski has long claimed that the sex between him and Geimer was consensual, despite pleading guilty in 1978 to unlawful sex with a minor.

A member of his legal team said that comparing Polanski’s crimes to those of Cosby was “a total misunderstanding and harassment”.

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