Variety magazine has apologized to Carey Mulligan for an ‘insensitive’ review of her new movie Promising Young Woman which said she wasn’t attractive enough for the lead femme fatale role.
In its initial review of the movie, written by Dennis Harvey, Variety referred to Mulligan as an ‘odd choice’ for the lead role, branding her as someone who appeared to be in ‘bad drag.’
Harvey also suggests that Margot Robbie, a producer on the project, should have taken on the role instead.
Mulligan had blasted the magazine for the sexist critique, saying it ‘drove me crazy’.
The review read: ‘Mulligan, a fine actress, seems a bit of an odd choice as this admittedly many-layered apparent femme fatale — Margot Robbie is a producer here, and one can (perhaps too easily) imagine the role might once have been intended for her. Whereas with this star, Cassie wears her pickup-bait gear like bad drag; even her long blonde hair seems a put-on.’
The Variety review was posted online a year ago, but was updated with an ‘Editor’s Note’ apology in bold after Mulligan spoke out about in a recent interview.
‘Variety sincerely apologizes to Carey Mulligan and regrets the insensitive language and insinuation in our review of ‘Promising Young Woman’ that minimized her daring performance,’ the apology reads.
Carey Mulligan has more to say a month after she called out Variety for a movie review
Mulligan took issue with the Variety review for being ‘transparent’ and behind the times
Variety told the Daily Telegraph that Harvey is a freelance critic, and would not comment on whether he would continue to write for the publication. A statement said ‘Variety has no further comment. The apology speaks for itself’.
Mulligan spoke out again this week, talking about the controversy with fellow movie star Zendaya in Variety’s ‘Actors on Actors’ series.
During the interview, Zendaya probed Mulligan on calling out Variety after the Promising Young Woman review was released.
‘I feel it’s important that criticism is constructive,’ Mulligan said. ‘I think it’s important that we are looking at the right things when it comes to work, and we’re looking at the art and we’re looking at the performance.
‘And I don’t think that goes to the appearance of the actor or your personal preference for what an actor does or doesn’t look like — which it felt that that article did.’
‘So I think in criticizing or bemoaning a lack of attractiveness on my part in a character, it wasn’t a personal slight,’ Mulligan continued. ‘It didn’t wound my ego, but it made me concerned that in such a big publication an actress’s appearance could be criticized and it could be accepted as completely reasonable criticism.
‘It’s important to call out those things, because they seem small and they seem insignificant. But it stuck with me, because I think it’s these kind of everyday moments that add up.’
‘Beautifully said,’ Zendaya responded.
Mulligan’s portrayal of Cassie in Promising Young Woman is receiving widespread acclaim
She claimed that personal appearance should not be deemed a fair criticism for actors
The apology came about after Mulligan called out Variety in an interview with The New York Times after Variety published their review.
‘I read the Variety review, because I’m a weak person,’ Mulligan said to the Times. ‘And I took issue with it. It felt like it was basically saying that I wasn’t hot enough to pull off this kind of ruse.
‘It drove me so crazy. I was like, ‘Really? For this film, you’re going to write something that is so transparent? Now? In 2020?’ I just couldn’t believe it.’
But Variety’s apology has been criticized by fellow movie critic Jeffrey Wells, who said that while he disagreed with Harvey’s review the publication should have given him an opportunity to respond.
He blasted online: ‘They’ve completely washed their hands of Harvey in this instance and have more or less thrown him under the bus.’
Promising Young Woman, first released on Christmas Day in 2020, holds a 91 percent approval rating on Rotten Toma
The movie features Mulligan as Cassie, who fights back against the men who try to sleep with her while she is seemingly intoxicated.
Mulligan has earned a Best Actress award from the National Board of Review for her performance, with Oscar buzz following her as well.