Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Awards, Movies, Roman Polanski, THR Online, USA

Emmanuelle Seigner, Polanski’s Wife, Rejects Academy Invitation to Join


Since the AMPAS expelled her husband, she is refusing to join, calling the invitation she received “one insult too many.”

French actress Emmanuelle Seigner has rejected an invitation from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences to join the organization, calling it “one insult too many” because the Academy expelled her husband, director Roman Polanski, earlier this year. 

In a sternly worded open letter published in the French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche, Seigner wrote, “The Academy probably thinks I am enough of a spineless, social climbing actress that I would forget that I have been married for the past 29 years to one of the world’s greatest directors. I love him, he is my husband and the father of my children. He has been cast out like a pariah. Yet these same nameless academicians think that I should ‘mount the steps of glory’ behind his back? The insufferable hypocrisy! This proposal is one insult too many. I cannot remain silent any longer. You offend me whilst claiming to want to protect women!”

The actress, whose credits include The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and the Polanski-directed Frantic, was one of the record 928 prospective new members who were invited to join the Academy last month as it increases its outreach to women and people of color in an effort to diversify its ranks. 

A month earlier, the Academy expelled Polanski, along with Bill Cosby, as part of its efforts to enforce new standards of conduct it put in place after booting Harvey Weinstein from the group last year. A five-time Oscar nominee, Polanski was allowed to keep the Oscar he was awarded for directing 2002’s The Pianist, an honor he couldn’t accept in person because he fled the U.S. in 1978 after pleading guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl.

In expelling Polanski and Cosby, the Academy said, “The Board continues to encourage ethical standards that require members to uphold the Academy’s values of respect for human dignity.”

Addressing the Academy and its goal of inviting more women into its ranks, Seigner wrote, “How could anyone doubt my concern for equality between men and women? I have always been a feminist. But how can I ignore the fact that a few weeks ago the Academy expelled my husband, Roman Polanski, in an attempt to appease the zeitgeist — the very same Academy which in 2002 awarded him an Oscar for The Pianist! A curious case of amnesia!”

But, she concluded, “As for the members of the Academy, I have only one thing to say to them: this is one woman you won’t have.”

The Academy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The full text of Seigner’s open letter follows:

I have been asked by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to join it, together with other actresses, in the cause of much-needed feminism. How could anyone doubt my concern for equality between men and women? I have always been a feminist. But how can I ignore the fact that a few weeks ago the Academy expelled my husband, Roman Polanski, in an attempt to appease the zeitgeist – the very same Academy which in 2002 awarded him an Oscar for The Pianist! A curious case of amnesia!

The Academy probably thinks I am enough of a spineless, social climbing actress that I would forget that I have been married for the past 29 years to one of the world’s greatest directors. I love him, he is my husband and the father of my children. He has been cast out like a pariah. Yet these same nameless academicians think that I should ‘mount the steps of glory’ behind his back? The insufferable hypocrisy! This proposal is one insult too many. I cannot remain silent any longer. You offend me whilst claiming to want to protect women!

I can no longer keep quiet about this affair which has transformed the life of my entire family since his arrest in Switzerland on 26 September 2009. We have two children, a son and a daughter. Roman has always been a loving father and a devoted husband. Ever since he was arrested he has been falsely slandered as a pervert. I am the only one who is able to testify just how much he regrets what happened 40 years ago. 

And yet, I am powerless when the press publishes scandals he was supposedly involved in – false testimonies, tales of women who claim to have been raped and yet never pressed charges. Barely two weeks ago a website announced my husband’s imminent death!

Samantha Geimer, his one and only victim, has been asking for years for this case to be closed, yet the courts and the media still stubbornly refuse to listen to her. She was indignant when she heard that Roman had been thrown out of the Academy. But when you become a symbol, forgiveness is impossible.

I feel that all his life, from the Nazis of his childhood to the present day, Roman has been condemned to perpetual flight, without the slightest effort by any part of the media to look at his case with an open mind.  On the contrary, they only seek to make it worse.  

Roman Polanski is the creator of unforgettable female characters, portrayed by Sharon Tate, Catherine Deneuve, Mia Farrow, Faye Dunaway, Nastassja Kinski and Sigourney Weaver. He bears no resemblance to this caricature of maleness, this symptom of the evil that ravages cinema. And yet the Academy expects me not support this man?

Of course, artists are not exempt from justice. But it should be the same justice that exists for all, not a justice that goes back on its word and violates its own principles. That was the case in Los Angeles in 1977, when his first confinement in prison was supposed to be his punishment. Today, Roman has served more than the maximum sentence for the offence committed. 

I can understand his distrust of the justice of men. It is not by chance that his favourite film is Odd Man Out, by Carol Reed. 

Sometimes, I see the hurt in his eyes. Sometimes, he astounds me by his zest to live. Only the truth and these words that I have just written can ease my pain. 

As for the members of the Academy, I have only one thing to say to them: this is one woman you won’t have.”



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