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Ewan McGregor Calls Roman Polanski a 'Completely Brilliant Director'

by
October 22, 2009
Source: LA Times

Ewan McGregor and Roman Polanski

It's been a while, nearly a month, since we last heard about anything major regarding Roman Polanski's continued imprisonment after his arrest in Switzerland back in September. The LA Times recently sat down with Ewan McGregor, the star of Polanski's now interrupted film The Ghost, in order to talk with him about his role and his experience with Polanski. "He's also got quite a brusque manner, so you have to have a thick skin. That said, I'm very fond of him. He's one of the very few completely brilliant directors that I've worked with. There aren't really very many, I have to say, or it's a shame to say," McGregor revealed.

That's nothing that I couldn't have arrived at myself after watching an interview or two or, you know, just recalling any of his great films, but what this quote does best is make me even more excited for The Ghost - which as we reported in October will be finished by March. Nary a single new detail was made available by McGregor, but, to echo his sentiments, he is a brilliant director - that's really the only detail I need.

And what of Polanski's arrest? This week he was denied bail. The Swiss government is, for some reason, having to justify arresting Polanski. To me, that just doesn't make sense. The authorities involved were all completely within their legal bounds to take the fugitive (because, yes, he was a fugitive) into custody. So, will Polanski be involved in a long extradition process or will he voluntarily return to the US in order to finally end this 32 year debacle? We don't know yet. Hell, even Polanski's own legal team aren't working in concert. And while he is an incredible artist, he's also a rapist. The legalities are more complicated than that, but the fact remains that he is a rapist, and that's not something that should be, nay can be, overlooked.

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  • esophus
    Yes he is and a convicted pedophile and rapist. I have no place in my heart for this man.
  • Tom Tain
    Seen this cartoon of Polanski devilagent.blogspot.com
  • Not Bob
    Actually, he isn't a convicted rapist. He pled guilty to sex with a minor not his wife. He is an *accused* rapist. Accusation is not conviction. – Well, except in the US, perhaps, or other politically corrupt nation states. Most places think some sort of trial or other bit of formality is necessary for conviction. Presumably Americans feel no need for such charades to reach 'justice' on the basis of allegation, assertion, or accusation – ask the Duke LaCrosse team or myriad others less fortunate than they not saved by public spotlight. Nor is he a pedophile. – A pedophile, incidentally, is someone sexually drawn to pre-pubescent children. Still, we're talking America. Let's honor the American tradition and simply lynch anyone accused, to hell with these petty distinctions. Let's have teenagers who privately exchange nude photos of one another be sentenced as child pornographers for taking photos of themselves, and be forever after required to register as dangerous sex offenders. Or burning at the stake. Always entertaining. A nice buck to be made, too, I'm sure. Then again, as in this case, we have the Spin the Wheel of Let's Make A Deal and political grandstanding that passes for 'justice' in the US. I don't know what's more disgraceful – the conduct of which Polanski is accused or the 'system' of American Justice. Probably a draw.
  • Gary Norton
    For those people out there who have sympathy for Polanski-please check out the details of his actions before championing his release. He drugged a 13 yr old girl, forced himself on her- performing oral sex, intercourse and sodomy on her-despite her protests. Some say that the charges against him were trumped up. Far from it. His charge of "unlawful sexual intercourse" was due to the usual issues revolving around law & order-charging someone for what they will admit too-not necessarily for what they did, for fear of failure on the prosecutions side. Despite this "getting off lightly" offer-he still ran away when he heard he might do time for it. Personally, whatever his talents, he should pay the consequences.
  • Fethalion
    Gotta love how, when you only see "Ewan McGregor calls Roman Polanski a 'Complet...", naturally assume that it finished "Complete idiot'"... Got nothing else to comment on this, seems like it's already been brought up. Although I am suprised on McGregor, always deemed him as one of my favorite actors...
  • Not Bob
    I think that what Polanski did was reprehensible. It is naive folly, however, to accept testimony before a grand jury as established fact tantamount to evidence offered in court and subject to scrutiny. Prosecutors have agendas and prejudices, and the cliché that a prosecutor can get a grand jury indictment against a ham sandwich exists for a reason, as does the cliché that the only justice in the halls of justice is in the halls. Welcome to America, Land of the Deal. Am I saying Polanski ought be exonerated? No. Far from it. I am, however, saying that to accept as fact the sole testimony of a 13-year-old before a grand jury is a very poor idea indeed. As well as a clear illustration of the limitations of American justice, where courts have no obligation to attempt to establish the facts, only to referee a process of verbal trial by combat.
  • rowdy
    not bob are you kidding the legel system might be bad but if you are a grown man and you rape a teenage girl you should feel lucky that someone doesnt cut your balls off and shove them down your throat
  • charlie
    Not Bob - thank you for the courage to write unpopular things. You are right. I hope Mr. Polanski will be able to fight off the extradition because I think that his chances for a fair trail in the US are slim.
  • Not Bob
    rowdy ~ Good to know you're ready to join the lynch mob on the basis of accusation, no need to actually prove facts, right? Enjoy your sense of macho self-righteousness, I know I did. charlie ~ However one feels, it's unlikely Polanski will be able to avoid extradition, since it seems from recent accounts that the Swiss actually alerted the US authorities and urged them to request his arrest and extradition. One suspects this is an attempt on their part to curry favor with the US after the US has pressured them on the 'Swiss Gold' extortion and the recent shakedown of secret accounts.
  • S
    Not Bob, I agree with most of what you have to say, I just don't agree with the way you choose to present your thoughts. Unfortunatly, I have a fairly large amount of experience, both personally and less directly, with situations such as the Polanski case. The simple fact is most rape and molestation cases rely on victim and other testimony to make the case. Unless caught in the act, a rape kit was performed, the person confesses, or some other material evidence is found, that is usually all the prosecution has to go on. This is one of the reasons I hate shows like Law & Order: SVU, because they do not accuratly portray how the vast majority of these cases play out. In these shows there is always mountains of evidence that, for the most part, rarely exists in real cases. Also, I don't understand why people aren't able to seperate the tallent and achievement from the person?
  • shredder
    if he wasnt guilty, he shouldnt have ran away. if he was being set up, framed, whatever, he shouldve had the balls to stay and fight it and clear his name. even if he had no chance. an innocent man fights. all he did was run away. sounds guilty to me. and the justice system is fucked up, yes, but seriously...where the hell in the world are you going to go to get this elusive "fair" trial? i just really have a hard time believing that the american justice system is the only one in the world where corruption or bias or ulterior motives can effect or sway an outcome of a trial. and i also find it hard to believe that the us of a is the only nation where its public often deems a person accused of a crime innocent or guilty based on their personal opinions or bias or on the information/mis-information they have attained from whatever form of media is available to them. sounds more like human nature to me. i wouldnt accuse only one nation of being guilty of it.
  • Son of Scotland
    I wonder that if Ewan had a teenage daughter if he would leave her alone in a room with this man? I dont fucking think so. I like Ewan as an actor but he needs to wisen up.
  • megan
    Oh, Ewan "can't bear" to see his beloved director in a cell? Can he bear to see a girl being raped by him? That's it, Ewan, just conveniently not acknowledge the events that led up to him being brought to face the music for his actions. Brush that little fact aside so that your kowtowing can be as unobstructed as possible. How about you bend over just a little bit more for Roman, Ewan, I'm sure he'd like that. He certainly seems to think he's entitled to it.
  • megan
    Not Bob- Polanski never contested the testimony. If he had a case, he could easily have done that. But lying under oath would easily have gotten him a few more years on his sentence, and he knew that.
  • Not Bob
    S ~ I am in essential agreement with your points. There are any number of moral atrocities which the law cannot address. People break hearts and shatter lives in any of a number of fashions the law cannot address. I’ve read the transcripts of the victim’s testimony before the grand jury as well as Polanski’s statement before the court in which he pled guilty to the single count. Personally, I find the victim’s testimony on the whole sufficiently convincing as to moral culpability that I have no hesitation in arguing that Polanski acted in an utterly immoral fashion and is rightly condemned for that fact. There are, however, in my mind, other problems. The fact of the matter is that, legally, Polanski pled guilty to a single count, as part of a plea arrangement which it seems he had good reason to fear the judge, with no new facts in consideration, would ignore, in which case it was felt he would likely win on appeal, but only after many months in jail, with the usual accompanying US prison system’s additional punishment of being himself raped, likely brutally, and likely repeatedly – an outcome many of his critics have eagerly and resoundingly indicated they would find desirable – if not, indeed, his castration, mutilation, etc. I think you might agree that while your points as to often having only the victim’s testimony to rely upon are valid, in this case we have only the victim’s statements to a grand jury, not subject to any further review or critical scrutiny by the court. Please don’t misunderstand me, here – I have no tolerance for ‘blame the victim’ tactics on the part of defense. Yet in this case we have only plain assertion, which cannot be taken as synonymous with fact merely on the basis of its having been asserted – otherwise we would adopt the perspective that every accusation of rape or other serious crime must bet taken as fact, prima facie. I would argue that we ought limit particular moral judgements in a particular instance on the basis of the level of confidence we have in the ‘facts’ presented. I would further argue that there is a sound reason why the Western Christian tradition argues we ought leave final moral judgement to the Maker on the Day of Judgement. Few of us know what dwells in our own hearts let alone the hearts of others, and no one but those two people were in that room many years ago. I simply mean to argue, then, that we ought not, as so many have, place upon a particular individual the weight of our own feelings as to the morality of an abstract concept. That is not, however, to argue that judgement as to practical, temporal justice must be left to the Maker. We are morally and practically bound to seek justice as best we can. In this case, it seems to me, we ought hold to the plea arrangement originally made. To revisit the past with present ‘standards’, which are themselves mutable in time’s flow, is to my mind inappropriate. Ought we condemn the Holy Spirit for impregnating the Virgin Mary when she was what we would now legally regard as a ‘child’ of the same age as the victim in this case? Perspectives, even among those who are sincerely and diligently concerned with establishing justice as best they can, do in fact evolve over time. The last time I checked it was no longer a crime in Virginia to have sex with your wife if the two of you were of different races. Forty-two years ago, it was, and one was looking at moral outrage and serious felony jail time. Age of consent laws have varied enormously over time, and culture, of course. Social needs and their accompanying taboos evolve, and are vitally necessary, often with horrific consequences for violation, but are not in my opinion of necessity synonymous with fundamental morality. I would argue that the nearest we can manage with respect to legal ‘justice’ in this case is to require that Polanski spend the ninety days originally intended in custody. If it were my judgement to make, at the point at which his time in Swiss custody plus time previously spent in custody in the US equals ninety days, I would let the matter, legally, rest, and leave people to their often violently differing opinions and final judgement to the Maker. Do I find this a ‘satisfying’ judgement? No. It seems to me, though, the best one can reasonably manage under the circumstances. As to the separation of act and artist this is, of course, also an ancient dilemma, but I’ve rambled enough, let’s leave that, too, for another day, but let’s quote Yeats: ‘Can you tell the dancer from the dance?’ She, too, incidentally, was vastly the younger woman, and her name was Iseult.
  • Not Bob
    shredder ~ With all respect, I can imagine many circumstances where one would reasonably fear the caprice of a judge, and flee. Whether or not they apply to Polanski is another question. I would argue, though, that flight – of anyone – is not necessarily proof of guilt, though it should be considered as one factor in judgement. Polanski, if he chose to 'fight' would, according to most accounts, have had to spend many months in jail, subject to abuse. That dilemma is not unique to his case, but I would argue it is, indeed, a dilemma. No system of justice, I agree, is perfect, and the public always has its opinions, often unrelated to facts. Most systems of justice in the developed world, though, are radically different than the US and British systems. Judges are trained as judges, and their conduct and competence is monitored – they are not, as most in the US are, politicians, running for office, wearing the cloak of 'justice'. This seems to me far more sensible. Also, most courts in the rest of the developed world are tasked with as best they can, however imperfectly, determining the underlying facts rather than acting as referees while the two sides play games and slug it out. Are these approaches perfect? Of course not. They are, though, in my judgement, far better approaches and likely, more often, to yield better, fairer, judgements.
  • Not Bob
    megan ~ I agree that Polanski's not contesting the case strongly suggests, in moral terms, guilt – though we can't be certain. As I said, from the facts available, I find Polanski's conduct morally reprehensible. I am simply arguing that the system of justice ought to follow it's own (often insane) rules, not take a second bite of the apple propelled by public outrage. Polanski pled guilty to a single count, that of having sex with an underage woman not his wife, and his pleading guilty was part of a plea bargain under which he was to serve ninety days. We have no way of knowing if he would have pled guilty if they had thrown the book at him with all counts, or, if he had offered a defense what the outcome would be. We can only guess. I would argue that the system of justice, if it is to be taken seriously at all, ought not attempt to retry the case, but ought settle for the original deal. Does that stink? Yes, at any of a number of levels, it does. Anything else, though, stinks worse, at least to my nose.
  • xerxex
    hahaha hypocrisy at its best! A brilliant director who forces himself in a girl, if that's not brilliance I don't know what is! Thank you Hollyweird! As long sa you make great films it dosen't matter if you rape, maim, murder, or destroy! Now is Las Vegas still considered Sin City? why is that Michael Jackson was never proven to have raped children and he was crucified, but Roman Polanski actually was proven to have drugged and raped a girl he gets mass amount of suport?
  • Jeep-Fu
    When did praising and supporting a child rapist become acceptable?
  • germs
    I lose all respect for anyone who defends this pos. It's time to face the music.
  • deadfish not bob
    *points at xerxex, Jeep-Fu, germs, and their spiritual kindred* QED 😉
  • Pete
    Not Bob - I'm curious, what country are you from?
  • Sabes
    Brilliant director he may be, but apparently not when it came to the young girl. Everything has consequences, and he too must suffer them. "Still, we're talking America. Let's honor the American tradition and simply lynch anyone accused, to hell with these petty distinctions." That's not necessarily true. I for one like the facts before I "lynch" anyone. ;P I don't like when people assume things about America, and because of the sensational stuff they see on tv, they lump everyone into this one big pot. The justice system has it's problems, but nothing is perfect. Most of us really do try. Not everyone here instantly jumps and believes what they hear.
  • rowdy
    not bob just because i hold predjeduce against rapists dosnt mean i would kill anyone and remember its because the american justice system is so messed up that he was able to escape in the first place
  • jimbo
    not bob He pled guilty to sex with a minor.That alone makes him a rapist. Even if she was willing a minor can not consent to having sex with a adult.
  • zap2it
    ughhhh roman polanski can stay in jail for the next 10 years for all i care. its amazing to see liberal hollywood call for his release. lets put the shoe on the other foot. do you think they wouldve minded polanski having sex with their 13 year old daughter? he drugged a young girl...WTF?!? thank god the swiss police and the US finally got the dirtbag. hes been running away from justice for far too long. i wonder how his life being locked up right now must feel. i guarantee alot of those inmmates havent seen the pianist but they do know he had sex with a 13 year old girl. even people locked up have morals. these actors calling for his release should STFU.
  • Funny Boy
    > Actually, he isn't a convicted rapist. He pled guilty to sex with a minor not his wife Which is a statutory rape, so he is a rapist. Maybe not a rapist-rapist, meaning he didn't attack this girl with 2x4 in a dark alley, but then why would he need to he got her drugged up.
  • Greg
    Not Bob, in all of your pontificating and posturing, you've missed a critical detail: Polanski is not being brought to the US to stand trial on the sex charge. He is being brought back for sentencing on that charge - a sentencing that never took place because he fled from justice. Now the DA might file new charges because he ran, and Polanski might stand trial for them, but that is a separate matter entirely (and one he wouldn't be facing at all if he hadn't skipped out). In no way does Polanski's extradition from Switzerland constitute a "second bite of the apple". And if you understand the law as well as you seem to think you do, then you know judges are not bound to honor a plea agreement reached by the defense and prosecution. The judge in 1972 wasn't, and the judge Polanski will face when he arrives in LA is not either. Do judges usually go along with plea agreements? Yes. But they are not required to do so - largely so that if our adversarial system returns an absurd plea agreement, the judge can impose a sentence more befitting the crime. If I read your previous posts correctly, this is exactly the kind of moral authority you're arguing US judges should (but do not) have. Finally, you're assessment of the US legal system is irrationally harsh. Almost histrionic, really. While there's certainly room for improvement, our system actually does right by most of the people most of the time. And when it does err, it tends to do so on the side of leniency; in the US, the guilty go free far more often than the innocent are convicted. As it should be. My sense is that you are both emotionally and ideologically invested in your "the US legal system is evil and corrupt" philosophy. So deeply invested that you can no longer rationally consider opposing arguments or come to fair conclusions. Though you state your position eloquently, the position itself is both overwrought and highly suspect.
  • Then he said he wanted Roman to fuck his young daughter, since it would be a great honor.
  • Not Bob Also Not Bob's Dog or A Colorless Green Idea Unable to Sleep
    In my judgement an inquisitorial system is far superior to an adversarial, as, in my judgement, a system of civil law is far superior to that of common law. If you feel truth and fair judgement is more likely arrived at by a system of trial by combat, weaving its way through the variegated inconsistencies of precedent and jurisdiction, overseen, in far too many instances by an explicitly highly politicized judiciary and prosecution, we differ. Do well-intentioned humans in many cases manage to make the madness work tolerably well? Yes. Well-intentioned humans can in many cases make the best of an abomination. It is, nonetheless, an abomination. At least in my judgement. Others are welcome to theirs.
  • If any of you who claim to have read the Grand Jury transcript of the 'victim' in this case were correct, you would also have read the testimony given by a Dr. Larson who examined the 'victim' at Parkland Hospital who found nothing to show for the 'ravaged' girl's accusations. There was no evidence on her body or her clothes. The MEDICAL AND FORENSIC evidence that came back from the lab found nothing at all in terms of sperm or saliva on her body, clothes, nothing. Which means her 'harrowing' account of trying fend him off and telling him to stop or 'no' are completely false. Her two briefs to the court, one last year and one this, proves she knows her 'game' is up. If Polanski is returned to the States, he can envoke his right to withdraw his plea and force a trial. If that happens, the 'victim' will be forced to testify, or else, she'll have to envoke her right to not self-incriminate at which point Polanski's lawyers can ask for a mistrial with prejudice. The 'victim' can then be charged with making a false claim and or imprisoned for pleading the fifth on the stand, or perjury for the original claims. Either way, Ms. Geimer has to avoid taking the stand or else her story falls through due to no evidence to prove Polanski did this 'vile' thing. Interesting still, is the 'need' to arrest Polanski NOW! As both Ewan McGregor and Johnny Depp have both said, "Why now?" According to Steve Cooley, the DA in this case, he claims they've been after him since the mid 90s even though Judge Rittenband's original bench warrant still stood. Yet, no order for Polanski's arrest came to Switzerland until AFTER the Marina Zenovich documentary "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired" aired on HBO. Suddenly then, the DA in the beginning of the case who was taken off and the case reassigend to Roger Gunson, admits his ex parte communication with the judge was all lies. Interesting he signed a legally binding release with HBO and Zenovich which allowed them to use any part of his statement in the film in its whole or in part. He claims now what he said in the documentary was a lie. Nice backtracking on his behalf. And if he were called to the stand in a trial, Chad Hummel and Polanski's other lawyers could ask him why he lied in the documentary. Of course if David Welles wants to save face, he'll say he lied about the lie, which is perjury. He could be charged. Or he could continue with his lie, given the only other person he had the ex parte communication with is now dead, Judge Renegger himself. All in all, there is so much about this case that the press don't want to talk about. They'd rather continue the American Pathology of victimhood in all its shapes and forms. It likes that about itself. In the meantime, a man is being vilified. But don't let all that stuff blind you to your lynch mob mentality. Roman Polanski is not the American Boogeyman. Concentrate on the fact that California will be bankrupt by the end of the year. Rape Kits from REAL cases of rape are sitting on shelves in police storage. Some are rotting or nearing the end of the statute of limitations. REAL vicitms of rape are begging for THEIR cases to be heard. And this is what America is concentrating on? Unbelievable!

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