Berlin: Patricia Clarkson Talks #MeToo Movement's 'Wizard of Oz' Moment

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The actress says Hollywood's curtain has fluttered open to reveal a powerful woman ready to "give men a heart, and brains, and courage."

House of Cards star Patricia Clarkson on Friday said the #MeToo movement's Wizard of Oz act has, like Toto, pulled the curtain back on sexual harassment and abuse to reveal a Great and Mighty woman.

"It's like a curtain in our industry has been pulled, back, like in the Wizard of Oz where a man was sitting there. But now a woman is behind that curtain and that woman will give men a heart, and brains, and courage," Clarkson told a Berlinale press conference for her latest film, The Bookshop.

Clarkson, who stars in Spanish director Isabel Coixet's English-language drama, said courageous women worldwide have long experienced "predatory behavior."

"And their lives have been ruined and their careers have been ruined by men, and that behavior has been exposed and it's come to the forefront," she said at the Berlin event. "Those valiant and courageous women, and men, who are older now, and have found a voice that they had buried, on their shoulders we rise," Clarkson added.

Coixet also talked about the #MeToo and Time's Up campaigns, and pointed to young women in Iran protesting that country's compulsory headscarf law. "I really respect and understand the #MeToo movement. At the same time, I always say the real courage in our day is when 17-year-old girls in Iran are taking their veils and putting them in trees and are in prison because of that," Coixet said.

"They're really risking their life for saying simple things, like I don't want to wear a veil, or I'll wear it when we choose. … Let's think about which women are risking their lives," she added.

And Emily Mortimer, who co-stars in The Bookshop alongside Clarkson and Bill Nighy, said the #MeToo movement has seen women, including herself, engage men for the first time in conversations about inequality and other gender issues.

"Of course, it's an incredibly exciting moment for women and one of those weird things is you only realize as it starts happening how much your life has been affected by inequality. That's so staggering," Mortimer said. "We're having conversations with men in our lives — with my son and my husband — that I've never had before, or in this way. And this is exciting and the beginning of something enormous, but complicated and thorny and difficult at times," Mortimer added.

The Bookshop adapts Penelope Fitzgerald's 1978 novel about a woman's struggle to bring literary culture to an English town that badly needs it. The first Berlinale screening of the film is on Friday night.

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