Roman Polanski can no longer count Natalie Portman among his defenders. The Oscar-winning actress now says she “very much” regrets having signed a petition calling for his release after he was arrested in Switzerland in 2009.
“I very much regret it,” Portman told Buzzfeed in an interview published Tuesday. “I take responsibility for not thinking about it enough. Someone I respected gave it to me, and said, ‘I signed this. Will you too?’ And I was like, sure. It was a mistake. The thing I feel like I gained from it is empathy towards people who have made mistakes. We lived in a different world, and that doesn’t excuse anything. But you can have your eyes opened and completely change the way you want to live. My eyes were not open.”
Polanski, 84, has been a fugitive from the United States since 1978 when he fled to France prior to sentencing in a sexual assault case involving his having drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl. He was arrested in Switzerland in 2009 on a warrant seeking to extradite him to the United States to face trial. Swiss courts denied the request to extradite him in 2010 and Polanski was freed.
Since then, several other women have come forward to accuse Polanski of raping them when they were children or teenagers under circumstances similar to the 1977 case. And in December 2017, the Los Angeles Police Department opened a new investigation into accusations by artist Marianne Barnard that Polanski molested her in 1975. He has consistently denied the accusations.
Among the other signatories of the 2009 petition was Woody Allen, who was accused of molesting his adopted Daughter, Dylan Farrow. Portman told Oprah Winfrey in January that she believes Farrow, and asked about that by Buzzfeed talked about how easily women are disbelieved when they are sexually assaulted.
“[D]o I know anyone’s experience? No. But would I question a man who said “someone stabbed me”? Never! You know? I think it’s bizarre. We know that women are systematically not listened to. That victims of sexual assault are systematically not listened to,” she said.