Carey Mulligan Calls Out Variety Review That Said She ‘Wasn’t Hot Enough’ for Role

“Why does every woman who’s ever onscreen have to look like a supermodel?” asks actress

promising young woman
"Promising Young Woman" / Focus Features

Actress Carey Mulligan has taken issue with Variety’s review of her new movie “Promising Young Woman,” saying it focuses on her looks and compares them to Margot Robbie.

“I read the Variety review, because I’m a weak person,” Mulligan told the New York Times in an interview out Wednesday. “And I took issue with it.”

“Promising Young Woman” centers on her character Cassie’s mission to catch men in the act of attempting to sleep with her when she’s seemingly very drunk. The catch, as the men inevitably learn, is she was never drunk and even if they positioned themselves as a “nice guy,” in their words, they were about to date rape her, not save her by taking her home.

The Variety review, written by Dennis Harvey, addresses Mulligan’s casting in its final paragraph:

“Mulligan, a fine actress, seems a bit of an odd choice as this admittedly many-layered apparent femme fatale — Margot Robbie is a producer here, and one can (perhaps too easily) imagine the role might once have been intended for her. Whereas with this star, Cassie wears her pickup-bait gear like bad drag; even her long blonde hair seems a put-on.

“It felt like it was basically saying that I wasn’t hot enough to pull off this kind of ruse,” Mulligan told the Times.

“It drove me so crazy. I was like, ‘Really? For this film, you’re going to write something that is so transparent? Now? In 2020?’ I just couldn’t believe it,” she added.

“We don’t allow women to look normal anymore, or like a real person,” Mulligan told the Times. “Why does every woman who’s ever onscreen have to look like a supermodel? That has shifted into something where the expectation of beauty and perfection onscreen has gotten completely out of control.”

On Thursday, Variety’s editors added a note to the start of Harvey’s review apologizing to Mulligan, saying the publication “regrets the insensitive language and insinuation in our review of “Promising Young Woman” that minimized her daring performance.”

Mulligan was on the cover of Variety earlier this month to promote the movie, which opens theatrically on December 25.


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