Following an Instagram post in which actress Anouchka Delon suggested her father, iconic French actor Alain Delon, should replace Roman Polanski as President of this year’s César Awards, Delon père shot down the idea. In an interview with Le Figaro, the 81-year-old Delon said, “If they asked me to preside over the Césars, I wouldn’t do it in solidarity with Roman Polanski. Every time he crosses the street, are we going to talk to him about 1970?”
The star of The Leopard and La Piscine was reacting to controversy that erupted recently in France after the Académie des Arts et Techniques chose Polanski as its president for the 42nd Césars ceremony. Outcries were heard from local feminist groups who called the Chinatown and Pianist director “an author of sexual violence who remains unpunished, protected by his celebrity status.” In response, Polanski chose not to accept the Académie’s honorary title.
The furor stems from Polanski’s 1977 child sex conviction in the U.S. At the time, he cut a plea deal and served 42 days in prison but fled the States on the eve of sentencing when it appeared the judge in the case had moved the legal goalposts. He has been a fugitive from American justice ever since, residing primarily in France. Attempts in European courts to have him extradited have failed.
Many in the French film industry refrained from commenting last week, although Delon was vocal in his defense, saying, “Leave Polanski alone!” and denouncing the media and certain organizations for “hunting” the filmmaker.
France’s equivalent to the Oscars announced its nominations on Wednesday. During the press conference, Académie President Alain Terzian said the role of ceremony President had not been filled. The org has removed a press release announcing Polanski’s appointment from its website. It has been suggested the post will remain vacant for the February 24 event. The role has no major function other than to speak at the beginning of the telecast and officially open the proceedings.
It is believed that the Académie made no formal offer to Delon — who has previously twice acted as President — but his daughter’s Instagram post said, “HERE he is, the President of the Césars.” In the photo, her father is outfitted in his Julius Caesar garb from 2008’s Asterix At The Olympic Games.
“She needs to stop,” Delon told Le Figaro. “I’m not going. And if I’m putting my foot in it, so be it.”