‘90s “it girl” and indie film darling Chloe Sevigny sat down for an interview with The Guardian this morning to discuss her first foray into directing with the short film Kitty, premiering at the Cannes Film Festival this week, as well as her experiences with sexism in the film industry over the course of her prolific career. With her directorial debut, Sevigny also touched upon the double standards experienced by female directors, and the weighty odds against women like her in Hollywood. Sevigny noted thoughtfully:
When women on set become a little emotional, or impassioned even, they’re labeled as hysterical or crazy and have a hard time getting hired again. I think that male directors are often seen as mad geniuses. The behaviour that they’re allowed to get away with is celebrated and it makes people think they are just even more talented because they exude these behaviours that are eccentric. Whereas when females do it, they get labelled as crazy and they don’t work again. Why can’t the woman be the mad genius as well? There’s just not room for that right now unfortunately. Women get judged in such an unfair way.
Sevigny is known best for her work in art-house films like Kids, The Brown Bunny and American Psycho, and she rarely elects to participate in blockbuster films and mainstream media for reasons she detailed in today’s interview. She described her run-ins with more famous directors as “creepy situations,” with one of them asking her what she was doing after her audition and another offering to take her to try on clothes and shop with her. In a particularly inappropriate instance with a director Sevigny declined to specify, the actress and model went in to the audition dressed provocatively for a part and commented that, ”[The director was] like, ‘Oh you should show your body off more before you get too old…you should show it off now, you never show your body.’ I’m like, actually I’ve been nude in almost every movie I’ve done so I don’t know what you’re watching!”
These examples of sexist behavior and standards are something that, unfortunately, not only Sevigny has been subjected to. In 2013, Vulture wrote a memorable article detailing the average age difference (often well over 20 years) between a series of well-known male actors and their female costars. Countless instances of discrimination in Hollywood based on gender, age, physical appearance and body type have been brought to media attention by actresses like Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Schumer and Maggie Gyllenhaal. It seems that what happened to Sevigny is something of an epidemic in the film industry, and the actress concluded by saying that “you just have to know how to protect yourself.”
You can listen to the full audio clip of Sevigny’s interview in Cannes here, or read it here. The actress is currently starring alongside Kate Beckinsale in an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Love and Friendship—find our full review here and watch the trailer below: