Natalie Portman Breaks Down How Women Are “Expected To Behave” Differently Than Men At Cannes
A few years ago, there was some sexist drama at Cannes when it was alleged that only women wearing high heels were allowed into screenings. And while promoting her latest film at Cannes, Natalie Portman brought up the high heels thing and reminded everyone in the room that being a working actress comes with conditions, especially while out and about on the film festival circuit.
According to Variety, Natalie, Julianne Moore, and Charles Melton were all at Cannes to promote their latest film May December, directed by Todd Haynes. And no, this is not a dramatized version of the time it took for Kim Kardashian to contemplate leaving Kanye West. It’s a film loosely based on the late Mary Kay Letourneau, who eventually turned R. Kelly’s It Seems Like You’re Ready into her love language after grooming one of her underage students. But because of the sensitive nature of the film Natalie, who portrays an actress researching a role based on Julianne’s Letourneau-inspired character, wanted to share some thoughts on Hollywood’s double standard with actresses, and she used how women are expected to act at Cannes as a prime example.
“We had all the inspirational tabloid materials that existed. There was a book with a crazy title, like ‘Punished for Love,’ or something like that,” she recalled. “We had those resources at our fingertips, which was helpful at getting background.”
Portman describes the film as a study of “the different roles we play in different environments.” She observes that discrepancy is particularly on display at the Cannes Film Festival, where women are mandated to wear heels on the red carpet.
“Even here, the different ways we, as women, are expected to behave at this festival even compared to men… how we’re supposed to look, how we’re supposed to carry ourselves,” she said. “The expectations are different on you all the time. It affects how you behave, whether you are buying into or rejecting it. You’re defined by the social structures upon you.”
Natalie Portman on #MayDecember: "The film is so much about performance and the different roles we play…for different people and for ourselves." https://t.co/iTCREOeqDh #Cannes pic.twitter.com/SVjPy5nK4D
— Variety (@Variety) May 21, 2023
Suddenly, Natalie placed her hand out for Julianne to slap as she tagged her into the fight. But instead of diving directly into the subject of double standards, she brought it back to the focus of the film and how they are speaking on the topic in fuller detail as opposed to glamorizing the practice of using a classroom as a dating service.
“An age gap is one thing, but a relationship between an adult and a child is a different thing entirely,” Moore said at Sunday’s press conference for “May December,” which was embraced in the Grand Palais the day prior with an enthusiastic six-minute standing ovation.
“When is age inappropriate? It’s when people are in different places developmentally when someone is not an adult. This is why we have boundaries around that,” she adds. “The reason why this movie feels so dangerous watching it is because people don’t know where anyone’s boundaries are. It feels scary.”
As thought-provoking as their conversation was, I can guarantee you that not everyone was paying attention. Because some undersexed male filmmaker probably spent the entire time thinking of a role he could create where both Natalie and Julianne are wearing tight blouses and reciting infantile lines like “Me buttons go POP soon!” And yes, it was probably Sam Levinson.
Here are pics of Natalie, Julianne, their co-star Charles Melton, and Todd Haynes at the Cannes photocall and premiere for May December.