Oscar-winning actor Jeremy Irons delivered a powerful address to the media, clarifying and apologizing for past remarks in which he criticized same-sex marriage, abortion and sexism.
The comments came at the kickoff of the Berlin International Film Festival, where Irons serves as president of the jury. With several films in competition this year dealing with issues like women’s rights, abortion and homophobia, and with Irons’s past comments resurfacing, the Watchmen star felt a need to make his positions clear once and for all.
“I should like, not as the jury president, but on a personal level to address various comments that I have reportedly made in the past, and which have resurfaced in certain sections of the press over the past few weeks. I wish I didn’t have to take up time with this, but I don’t want it to continue as a distraction to the Berlinale,” Irons told the press. He referred to comments made in a 2011 Radio Times interview that “if a man puts his hand on a woman’s bottom, any woman worth her salt can deal with it.” In 2013, in conversation with Huffington Post, Irons also defended the church’s right to classify abortion as a sin, and joked that marriage equality could lead to fathers marrying sons to avoid inheritance taxes.
“Let me make my views this morning entirely clear on these particular subjects once and for all. 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 the workplace,” Irons declared. “Secondly, I applaud the legislation of same-sex marriage, wherever it has been attained, and I hope that such enlightened legislation will continue to spread into more and more societies. And thirdly, I support wholeheartedly the right of women to have an abortion, should they so decide.”
“These three human rights are,” he continued, “I believe, essential steps toward a civilized 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 went on to comment that several of the films in this year’s Berlin Film Festival will likely confront these issues, and he looks forward to seeing them and continuing global reach for equality.
He then added: “I hope that’s put my past comments to bed.”