Pro-Polanski 'Matrix' star booed after French Oscar night fiasco

Fiachra GIBBONS
People whistled and shouted slogans as Lambert Wilson gave a concert of Kurt Weill songs

Protesters booed a French star who has condemned attacks on the controversial film director Roman Polanski as an "abominable public lynching" as he performed onstage.

The group whistled and shouted slogans as actor Lambert Wilson, who plays Merovingian in "The Matrix" films, gave a concert of Kurt Weill songs in the northern French city of Lille late Wednesday.

"Polanski rapes and Wilson endorses it!" they shouted after the actor criticised actress Adele Haenel for walking out of the "French Oscars", the Cesars, on Saturday after Polanski won best director.

Wilson turned on Haenel and "the miniscules" hounding Polanski while he was promoting a new biopic of Charles de Gaulle in which he plays the French wartime leader.

Haenel was subject to an ugly attack on Facebook earlier this week from the French casting director of Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds".

Olivier Carbone said she and her supporters were "fat whores who behaved like hyenas with Polanski", before later amending his post to drop the "w" word.

Polanski, wanted in the United States since 1978 for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl, sparked fury when he got 12 nominations for his historical drama "An Officer and a Spy".

A call for a boycott of the movie did not stop it becoming a box office hit in France after it won two of the top prizes at the Venice film festival last September.

Haenel, who shook the French film industry last year by accusing the director of her first film, Christophe Ruggia, of sexually harassing her when she was only 12, stormed out of the Cesars ceremony when Polanski won the third of the three awards for his movie about the Dreyfus affair.

- Toxic atmosphere -

"It's an unacceptable lynching," Carbone wrote on Facebook, in comments that echoed Polanski's when he and his cast snubbed the ceremony saying he "feared a public lynching".

And Carbone warned Haenel -- one of France's most admired actresses -- that she would be frozen out of the industry for speaking out.

"She is going to have a big surprise soon, a well-deserved omerta will be hung from her nose," said Carbone, who also cast the Edith Piaf biopic "La Vie en Rose".

"Haenel, you are nothing compared to Roman's talent," he added. "Who are you to have such a big head and to talk like that in front of a living legend?"

Wilson was less vociferous, telling French radio, "You do not walk out of a ceremony because Polanski receives a prize. It is not done."

Haenel, 31, who had been nominated for best actress for "Portrait of a Lady", was heard to say "Bravo the paedophile!" as she left the theatre with the film's director Celine Sciamma, her former partner.

Polanski won two other awards, including best adapted screenplay, at the rancorous awards ceremony, which protesters chanting "Lock up Polanski!" tried to storm before being pushed back by police firing tear gas.

The atmosphere inside was not much better, with the French film industry at war with itself with pro- and anti-Polanski factions at daggers drawn.

To cap it all, black actress Aissa Maiga delivered a scathing critique of casual racism in the French industry, including skewering the presenter Florence Foresti for once donning blackface.

With the entire board of the Cesars forced to resign amid a backlash over their garlanding Polanski, 86, with the most nominations, some question if the awards can recover.