Out Portrait of a Lady on Fire star Adèle Haenel is quitting the movies, citing the French film industry’s “complacency” around #MeToo issues.
The out actor announced her retirement in a letter published in French cultural and television magazine Télérama. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Haenel wrote that she wanted to use the announcement to call out the French film industry’s “general complacency vis-à-vis sexual aggressors.”
Haenel has been a leading voice in the French #MeToo movement. She has accused French director Christophe Ruggia of sexually harassing her beginning when she was 12 years old and continuing until she was 15. In 2020, she was one of several women, including Portrait of a Lady on Fire director Céline Sciamma and co-star Noemie Merlant, who walked out of the César Awards (the French equivalent of the Oscars) ceremony when Roman Polanski won the award for Best Director. Polanski was convicted in 1977 of raping a 13-year-old but fled to Europe to avoid a potential prison sentence and has continued to work in France.
In her Télérama letter, Haenel blasted the “powers that be” in the French film industry for protecting powerful figures like Polanski, actor Gerard Depardieu, and producer Dominique Boutonnat who have been accused of sexual misconduct and abuse while silencing women who have come forward with allegations.
“It bothers them that the victims make too much noise. They preferred that we disappear and die in silence,” Haenel wrote.
Haenel accused those in power within the French film industry of attempting to “cancel” the #MeToo movement, which has sought to expose abusers in the entertainment industry and beyond, while empowering victims to speak up. “You have the money, the strength, and all the glory [but] you won’t have me as a spectator,” Haenel wrote. “I cancel you from my world.”
As THR notes, Haenel, who has won two César Awards and also starred in the 2017 French film 120 BPM, has not appeared in a film since 2019’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire, instead devoting her energy to political activism.