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Adèle Haenel Says She’s Retiring From the Film Industry: It’s “Reactionary, Racist and Patriarchal”

French actress Adèle Haenel was a breakout star of 2019’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire and quickly started snapping up new film roles, including the high profile (and highly coveted) lead in Bruno Dumont’s upcoming sci-fi feature. But now, she’s departing that movie and says she’s done with movies altogether.

“I don’t make films anymore,” she told the German magazine FAQ. “Because the film industry is absolutely reactionary, racist and patriarchal.”

“We are mistaken if we say that the powerful are of goodwill, that the world is indeed moving in the right direction under their good and sometimes unskillful management. Not at all,” she continued. “The only thing that moves society structurally is social struggle. And it seems to me that in my case, to leave is to fight. By leaving this industry for good, I want to take part in another world, in another cinema.”

Haenel says she’d hoped that by getting involved in making movies, she’d have more opportunity to make a difference. “I tried to change something from within,” she explained. “When it comes to the MeToo movement, women’s issues or racism, the film industry is extremely problematic. I don’t want to be part of that anymore.”

Haenel has been outspoken about her distaste for the film industry in the past, walking out of the César Film Awards after it awarded Roman Polanski and discussing how unfettered capitalism has hindered the advancement of women’s equality.

It’s not exactly news that the film industry is poisonous, particularly for young women. But it’s exceedingly rare to see a gifted actor with a lot of opportunities (and money) ahead of them protest the industry by getting out of it. It’s not unheard of though. Jack Gleeson, who played Game of Thrones‘ loathsome Prince Joffrey, also retired after his character met a richly deserved reward on the show. “The lifestyle that comes with being an actor in a successful TV show isn’t something I gravitate toward,” he told the Huffington Post.

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Haenel says she’ll continue to work in theater and would only consider returning to film if she could guarantee that any opportunities were not connected to the mainstream industry’s machine. She says she does not want her presence in the film industry to be used as proof of progress.

“If I stayed today in this film industry, I would be a kind of feminist guarantee to this masculine and patriarchal industry,” she said. “My dream is to make it clear: This industry defends a capitalist, patriarchal, racist, sexist world of structural inequality. This means that this industry works hand in hand with the global economic order, in which all lives are not equal.”

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