Mia Farrow backs Polanski in Vanity Fair libel case

20th July 2005, Comments 0 comments

LONDON, July 19 (AFP) - US actress Mia Farrow came to the aid of director Roman Polanski over a magazine claim he tried to seduce a woman en route to his murdered wife's funeral, saying she had seen him ignore female attention during the same period.

LONDON, July 19 (AFP) - US actress Mia Farrow came to the aid of director Roman Polanski over a magazine claim he tried to seduce a woman en route to his murdered wife's funeral, saying she had seen him ignore female attention during the same period.

The 60-year-old actress appeared for Polanski at a libel trial in London, in which the Oscar-winning director is suing the publishers of magazine Vanity Fair over an article printed in 2002.

Farrow, who starred in Polanksi's famous 1968 film "Rosemary's Baby", said she had been with Polanski at a restaurant in New York where, Vanity Fair claims, he made advances towards a woman.

She told the High Court trial that she had rushed from Florida to be with Polanski in August 1969 when she learned his heavily pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, had been murdered at their California home.

Tate and four of her friends were murdered by followers of cult leader and serial killer Charles Manson. Polanski was in London at the time.

Farrow recounted meeting Polanski soon afterwards at Elaine's restaurant in New York, where, Vanity Fair said in the 2002 article, the director was seen making sexual advances to a "Swedish beauty" before Tate's funeral.

"We were waiting for a table and I remember there were two women who seemed to be trying to flirt with him," Farrow said, not specifying whether this visit to the restaurant was the occasion referred to by Vanity Fair.

"I remember because I remember thinking how inappropriate it was and then we sat at our table."

Asked about Polanski's reaction, she said: "He paid no attention because we hadn't seen each other since Sharon's murder and that was so huge. I think I might have been crying and was hugging him and he just brushed them off."

However, when quizzed about reports Polanski had casual sex with other women within a month of his wife's death, Farrow agreed it was possible.

"I feel there's a big distinction -- for men maybe -- between relationships and having sex," she said, adding that such actions "would in no way detract from his feelings for Sharon".

Polanksi, 71, is suing publishers Conde Nast for what he described on Monday, when the case opened, as "an abominable lie".

The Polish-born director is testifying by video-link from Paris -- a legal first for a libel case -- as he is unwilling to go to Britain because he could be extradited from there to the United States where he is wanted for the statutory rape of a teenager.

Under cross examination on Tuesday, Polanski, who won a best director Oscar for "The Pianist" in 2003, was scathing about the Vanity Fair article.

"I have a certain sympathy for you," he told Conde Nast's lawyer, Tom Shields. "It must be a harrowing thing trying to defend such a blatant lie."

Shields responded by quoting to Polanksi the opening line of his own autobiography: "For as far back as I can remember the line between fantasy and reality has been hopelessly blurred."

This suggested he had "an inability to tell the truth when it matters", the lawyer said.

"Oh shit," the director responded with a smile.

Conde Nast concedes that the alleged encounter with the women took place about two weeks after Tate's funeral, not immediately before it. However, the publisher denies libel, saying the story was largely true.

The group's lawyers also argue that even if Polanski wins the case he should receive no damages as his varied romantic past and his US conviction for unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl meant his reputation could not be harmed.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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