Jeremy Irons used the platform of this morning’s opening jury press conference at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival to address controversial statements he has been reported to have made in the past about same-sex marriages, women’s rights and abortion.
Pre-empting questions from the attending press, jury president Irons spoke about the issues head-on, saying he didn’t want it to be “a distraction to the Berlinale”, adding that he had “already refuted and apologised for” the attributed comments.
“Let me make my views entirely clear on these particular subjects once and for all,” said Irons. “Firstly, I support wholeheartedly the global movement to address the inequality of women’s rights and to protect them from abusive, damaging and disrespectful harassment both at home and in workplace.” Irons drew fire in 2009 for signing a petition in support of Polish film director Roman Polanski.
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“Secondly, I applaud the legislation of same-sex marriage, wherever it has been attained. I hope that such enlightened legislation will continue to spread into more and more societies,” he added, referring to controversial comments he was said to have made in 2013 about how same-sex marriage could “debase” marital law (he later claimed to have been misinterpreted).
“Thirdly, I support wholeheartedly the right of women to have an abortion should they so decide,” he said, having previously been quoted as agreeing with a pro-life advocate.
“These three human rights are essential steps towards a civilised and humane society for which we should all continue to strive. There are many parts of the world where these rights do not yet exist, where such ways of living lead to imprisonment and even to death,” Irons continued. “I hope that some of the films we will be watching will address these problems. I look forward to watching films in this year’s Berlinale which will provoke us to question attitudes, prejudices and worldwide perceptions of life as we know it.”
“I hope that’s put my past comments to bed. Now let us get on with ten days of enquiry and celebration,” he concluded to applause from his fellow jurors and the attending audience, including new Berlinale artistic director Carlo Chatrian.
Joining Irons on this year’s Berlin jury are Bérénice Bejo, Bettina Brokemper, Annemarie Jacir, Kenneth Lonergan, Luca Marinelli, and Kleber Mendonça Filho.
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