Quentin Tarantino issues apology for his shocking comments about Roman Polanski
Given the amount of work that director Quentin Tarantino has done with disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein over the years, it was only a matter of time before attention turned to the things he has said and done in the past, amidst the influx of claims of sexual misconduct, harassment and assault in Hollywood.
Many appreciated his honesty and self-effacement when he was questioned about Weinstein's behaviour, as he told The New York Times after much silence:
"I knew enough to do more than I did. There was more to it than just the normal rumors, the normal gossip. It wasn’t secondhand. I knew he did a couple of these things."
He didn't get off too easy, as some of his actions on the set of Kill Bill filming with actress Uma Thurman caused a bit of an uproar when she publicly criticised him. Thurman recounted how she had asked for a stuntwoman to be in the car for a crash scene, but the director insisted that she do it herself, which ended up leaving her in "searing pain" and thinking she may not be able to walk again.
However, it was recently-unearthed comments Tarantino had made about Polish director Roman Polanski that landed him in hot water. In 1997, Polanski had coerced and drugged a 13-year-old girl before having sex with her. Since the outcome of that trial, he has remained in Europe, unable to return to the US.
With the news that a fictional version of Polanski would play a role in Tarantino's upcoming Charles Manson film, it was discovered that the director had made some wildly inappropriate comments about the incident.
In 2003, Tarantino spoke to Howard Stern, where he was asked why Hollywood still embraces "this director who raped a 13-year-old”. Tarantino replied:
“He didn’t rape a 13-year-old. It was statutory rape ... he had sex with a minor. That’s not rape. To me, when you use the word rape, you’re talking about violent, throwing them down—it’s like one of the most violent crimes in the world. You can’t throw the word rape around. It’s like throwing the word ‘racist’ around. It doesn’t apply to everything people use it for.”
When he was told that she was drugged, he said "She wanted to have it and dated the guy," cited the difference between European and American morals, and said "look, she was down with this".
For many fans of the director, this cast him in a new unflattering light, but it turns out his opinion has changed a lot in the last 15 years, and he has issued an apology for what he said.
“I want to publicly apologize to Samantha Geimer for my cavalier remarks on the Howard Stern Show speculating about her and the crime that was committed against her. Fifteen years later, I realize how wrong I was. Ms Geimer WAS raped by Roman Polanski.
When Howard brought up Polanski, I incorrectly played devil’s advocate in the debate for the sake of being provocative. I didn’t take Ms Geimer’s feelings into consideration and for that I am truly sorry. So, Ms Geimer, I was ignorant, and insensitive, and above all, incorrect.”
While Tarantino's original comments were definitely troubling, it's good to know that people can change and get a little perspective on things, rather than simply sticking to their old ways.