Films

Actress Asia Argento, Director Catherine Breillat Trade Barbs In Heated Exchange

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Actress Asia Argento, one of the many women to call out Harvey Weinstein for alleged sexual harassment, has hit back hard at some stinging words from French director Catherine Breillat, with whom she collaborated on 2007 drama The Last Mistress.

After the Fat Girl and Bluebeard filmmaker called Argento a “traitor” and a “mercenary” and accused her of “semi-prostitution” during a stunningly frank recent podcast appearance, the xXx star this morning roared back with some choice words of her own calling the auteur filmmaker “the most sadistic and downright evil director Ive ever worked with.”

During the explosive appearance on the Murmur podcast, which seems to have been taken down this morning but was caught yesterday by Indiewire, Breillat discussed a range of topics from Weinstein (whose downfall she said was a “loss” for European cinema) to #MeToo (which shes “not for”), Jessica Chastain (who never should have criticized Last Tango In Paris director Bernardo Bertolucci) and Italian actress Argento.

Breillat, whose films have played at Cannes and Venice and who suffered a debilitating stroke in 2004, said of Argentos claim that Weinstein sexually assaulted her: “To be very honest, I dont believe Asia. I know her, and she was very, very young…If theres anyone I dont believe, its Asia Argento. As a person, Asia Argento is quite servile. I never asked her to kiss my feet, but shes that kind of person. I dont believe Asia. If theres anyone capable of defending herself, whos not timid about sex, who does it a lot, and has lots and lots of desire for both men and women, its her. So I dont believe Asia.”

Asked why Argento would be lying, the filmmaker was just as tough. “For Asia, it was obviously, lets say, motivated by self-interest — it was a kind of semi-prostitution. Harvey Weinsteins not the worst man there is; hes not the most stupid, either. Asia may have been disappointed that she didnt become a great Hollywood actress she might have been, but there were lots of other things: drugs, many other things. She feels bitter. Because bitterness, too, can lead people to denounce if you wanted to obtain something and you didnt obtain it, if you feel humiliated. Quite honestly, I dont like Asia. I think shes a mercenary and a traitor.”

Argento hit back on Twitter this morning:

Catherine Breillat is the most sadistic and downright evil director Ive ever worked with. She took extreme pleasure on humiliating both her actors and crew during the shoot of “Last Mistress”. *Thread https://t.co/J8KtLC0ueE

— Asia Argento (@AsiaArgento) March 30, 2018

In a series of tweets, Argento goes on to claim that the filmmaker took liberties with actor safety on set and told her she would never work again after she had to stop filming due to an illness.

I never told these things because I always thought that what happens on a film set remains on a film set, but she really pressed the wrong buttons by reminding me what a monster she is, by insulting @jes_chastain and the #metoo movement.

— Asia Argento (@AsiaArgento) March 30, 2018

During the inflammatory podcast interview, Breillat reportedly had this to say about Weinstein, who denies any allegations of non-consensual sex with his accusers: “Despite everything, I think that Europeans have lost a lot with the loss of Harvey Weinstein. You have to remember that there are French producers who we havent denounced — I wont mention them; I wont mention names, although I know three who are extremely respected — I dont know why they werent denounced as well. They absolutely had their place.”

She also discussed the #MeToo movement and Jessica Chastains thoughts on Last Tango In Paris: “Long before the #MeToo movement started, I was very upset when Jessica Chastain made statements against the film Last Tango In Paris. If you listen to her, that film should never have been made. To listen to her, Maria Schneider was raped. But Jessica Chastain wasnt there, and its not true — I was on set. The scene was fiction.”

The late Schneider said she “felt humiliated and to be honest, I felt a little raped, both by Marlon [Brando] and by Bertolucci” after Bertolucci is said to have withheld details from his actress about a graphic anal rape scene in a bid to enhance its authenticity.

Breillat stands by the filmmaker. “Whats more, the scene was totally intellectual, the scene with the butter — they didnt show anything. I think society would do better to protect children from porn movies than to protect them from Last Tango in Paris. I was really upset by what Jessica Chastain said; I was indignant.”

“Im absolutely against #BalanceTonPorc”, she said of Frances version of the MeToo moveent. “Its too easy to accuse people via hashtags anonymously; we have a justice system.” She goes on to say, “Im not for #BalanceTonPorc, or for #MeToo for that matter. #MeToo, we knew all about it. My films deal with that, and the same people who saw #MeToo are those who attack my films — and with a lot of violence.”

There are nuances to some of what Breillat says and why she might be saying them. She is known to be a provocateur in her filmmaking style. Still, the tone and length of the attack on Argento seems unusually harsh and perhaps why the podcast is no longer available.

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