Carey Mulligan responds to sexist criticism

Carey Mulligan has responded to a controversial review about the film Promising Young Woman

Promising Young Woman
(Image credit: Focus Features)

Carey Mulligan has publicly responded to a review of her new film Promising Young Woman that contained sexist remarks. 

In an Actors on Actors interview for Variety with Zendaya (Euphoria, The Greatest Showman), the two discussed their work. Then, Zendaya bought up the sexist criticism that Carey recently received in a review.

The review in question was from freelance critic Dennis Harvey, who implied that Carey Mulligan wasn’t believable in the lead role as Cassie in Promising Young Woman because of her looks. The critic suggests that Margot Robbie might have been better suited to the role. The implication being that this individual critic's aesthetic preferences for the attractiveness of a woman are of more importance than the actor's skill.

The magazine has since released a statement that reads, “Variety sincerely apologizes to Carey Mulligan and regrets the insensitive language and insinuation in our review of Promising Young Woman that minimized her daring performance.”

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The critic not only suggested that Margot Robbie would be better suited to the role, but he also compared Carey Mulligan to a drag queen, “with this star [Carey], Cassie wears her pickup-bait gear like bad drag; even her long blonde hair seems a put-on.”

In the Actors on Actors interview, Zendaya bought up this criticism and asked Carey to speak about her decision to call out the sexist remarks that were made about her in the film Promising Young Woman.  

Carey replied and stated that she felt criticism should aim to be "constructive". She suggested that the critics should focus on her performance in the film and not her looks. 

Carey continued, "I think in criticizing or bemoaning a lack of attractiveness on my part in a character, it wasn’t a personal slight. It didn’t wound my ego.”  She revealed that she chose to speak out about these comments because of a more sinister reason.

Carey stated that her major issue was that a well-respected outlet could make sexist comments without negative ramifications. She said, “ it made me concerned that in such a big publication an actress’s appearance could be criticized and that could be accepted as completely reasonable criticism.” 

She argued that although the criticism seemed "insignificant," she wanted to stand up for herself because when these incidences add up it becomes a systemic issue within society. 

"It’s nerve-wracking to rock the boat with a big publication, but you’ve got to stand up for these things otherwise it continues and you are essentially part of it,” Carey said.

Carey noted that receiving an apology from Variety about these comments has meant a lot to her. She revealed that being able to come forward and receive an apology felt like she was making an impact.

Promising Young Woman

(Image credit: Focus Features)
Laura Harman

Laura is the Entertainment Editor for woman&home who primarily covers television, film, and celebrity news. Laura loves drinking and eating and can often be found trying to get reservations at London's trendiest restaurants. When she's not wining and dining, Laura can also be found travelling, baking, and hiking with her dog.