The Power of the Dog director Jane Campion apologized to Venus and Serena Williams for a “thoughtless comment” she made on Sunday at the Critics Choice Awards.
“Venus and Serena, you’re marvels, but you don’t have to compete against the men like I do,” she said during her acceptance speech for best director, as the tennis stars, whose early years were dramatized in King Richard, looked on from the audience.
After a backlash on social media from people who said she had minimized their incredible accomplishments, she issued a statement Monday.
“I made a thoughtless comment equating what I do in the film world with all that Serena Williams and Venus Williams have achieved. I did not intend to devalue these two legendary Black women and world class athletes,” Campion said in a statement to MovieMaker.
“The fact is the Williams sisters have, actually, squared off against men on the court (and off), and they have both raised the bar and opened doors for what is possible for women in this world. The last thing I would ever want to do is minimize remarkable women. I love Serena and Venus. Their accomplishments are titanic and inspiring. Serena and Venus, I apologize and completely celebrate you.”
The Power of the Dog won big on Sunday at the British Academy Film Awards, winning best picture and scoring Campion the prize for best director. She is only the third woman to win the award in seven decades of the BAFTAs. Power of the Dog also won best picture and best director at the Critics Choice Awards.
Campion also won the Theatrical Feature Film prize at the 74th annual Directors Guild of America Awards, which makes her the frontrunner for the best director Oscar.
Campion also recently made headlines Monday by responding to actor Sam Elliott’s criticism of The Power of the Dog.
Last week on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, Elliott questioned why Campion, a New Zealand director, made a movie about the American West. He also called the film “a piece of shit” and complained about its “allusions of homosexuality.”
In response, Campion called Elliott “a little bit of a b-i-t-c-h” in a conversation with Deadline at the DGA Awards this weekend.
“I think it’s really unfortunate and sad for him because he’s really hit the trifecta of misogyny and xenophobia and homophobia. I don’t like that. I think he was being a little bit of a b-i-t-c-h. Plus he’s not a cowboy, he’s an actor,” she said.
She also joked that she and the film’s star, Benedict Cumberbatch — who called Elliott’s comments “very odd” — would be happy to have a Western-style shoot-out.
“When [Elliott] gets out of hair and makeup, I’ll meet him down at the OK Corral on the set with Doctor Strange, and we will shoot it out,” she said.
Main Image: Jane Campion behind the scenes of The Power of the Dog. Courtesy of Netflix.