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Variety critic accuses Carey Mulligan of twisting words and says ‘did NOT say she is not hot enough’

Variety critic Dennis Harvey has accused Carey Mulligan of twisting his words and says he did ‘not say or even mean to imply she is not hot enough’ for her role in Promising Young Woman. 

In his initial review of the new movie, Harvey had written that the actress was an ‘odd choice’ for the lead role, branding her as someone who appeared to be in ‘bad drag’. 

Mulligan had blasted the magazine for the sexist critique, saying ‘it drove me crazy’ and that she felt the review was saying she ‘wasn’t hot enough to pull off this kind of ruse’. 

Variety magazine apologized to the actress yesterday for the ‘insensitive’ review of her new movie which said she wasn’t attractive enough for the lead femme fatale role.   

But Harvey today said his words had been twisted and he was ‘appalled to be tarred as a misogynist’.

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

Mulligan took issue with the Variety review for being  ‘transparent’ and behind the times

Variety critic Dennis Harvey has accused Carey Mulligan of twisting his words and says he did 'not say or even mean to imply she is not hot enough' for her role in Promising Young Woman

Variety critic Dennis Harvey has accused Carey Mulligan of twisting his words and says he did ‘not say or even mean to imply she is not hot enough’ for her role in Promising Young Woman

He added that Mulligan’s interpretation from the review that she’s ‘not hot enough’ is ‘bizarre’ and ‘quite a leap’.   

‘I did not say or even mean to imply Mulligan is ‘not hot enough’ for the role,’ he told The Guardian

‘I’m a 60-year-old gay man. I don’t actually go around dwelling on the comparative hotnesses of young actresses, let alone writing about that.’ 

Harvey said he had been ‘appalled to be tarred as a misogynist, which is something very alien to my personal beliefs or politics’. 

‘This whole thing could not be more horrifying to me than if someone had claimed I was a gung-ho Trump supporter,’ he added. 

In his initial review, Harvey had also suggested that Margot Robbie, a producer on the project, should have taken on the role instead of Mulligan. 

But Harvey today said his words had been twisted and he was 'appalled to be tarred as a misogynist'. Pictured: Mulligan in Promising Young Woman

But Harvey today said his words had been twisted and he was ‘appalled to be tarred as a misogynist’. Pictured: Mulligan in Promising Young Woman

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.’

In response to the criticism of his review, Harvey said: ‘What I was attempting to write about was the emphasis in the film and [Mulligan’s] performance on disguise, role-playing and deliberate narrative misdirection. 

‘Nor was bringing up Margot Robbie meant to be any comparison in ‘personal appearance’.

‘Robbie is a producer on the film, and I mentioned her just to underline how casting contributes to the film’s subversive content – a star associated with a character like Harley Quinn [Robbie’s Suicide Squad character] might raise very specific expectations, but Mulligan is a chameleon and her very stylised performance keeps the viewer uncertain where the story is heading.’  

Mulligan's portrayal of Cassie in Promising Young Woman is receiving widespread acclaim

Mulligan’s portrayal of Cassie in Promising Young Woman is receiving widespread acclaim

Harvey added that he had assumed that his words wouldn’t be interpreted as ‘simpleminded sexism’ by film-makers who had created such a complex movie. 

‘I assumed that film-makers who created such a complex, layered movie wouldn’t interpret what I wrote as some kind of simpleminded sexism,’ he said. 

‘And while Carey Mulligan is certainly entitled to interpret the review however she likes, her projection of it suggesting she’s ‘not hot enough’ is, to me, just bizarre. I’m sorry she feels that way. 

‘But I’m also sorry that’s a conclusion she would jump to, because it’s quite a leap.’

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. 

She claimed that personal appearance should not be deemed a fair criticism for actors

She claimed that personal appearance should not be deemed a fair criticism for actors

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.

Mulligan spoke out again this week, talking about the controversy with fellow movie star Zendaya in Variety 's 'Actors on Actors' series

Mulligan spoke out again this week, talking about the controversy with fellow movie star Zendaya in Variety ‘s ‘Actors on Actors’ series

‘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. 

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.’

Promising Young Woman, first released on Christmas Day in 2020, holds a 91 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes

Promising Young Woman, first released on Christmas Day in 2020, holds a 91 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes

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 Tomatoes. 

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. 


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