Roman Polanski says his bad days in Hollywood started with the murder of his wife Sharon Tate as he believes that many in the media thought that he was the one responsible for the tragedy. Polanski, who is wanted in the US after fleeing the country decades ago to avoid jail in a case related to having sex with a minor, is currently in the news over the inclusion of his upcoming film An Officer and a Spy in the competition line-up of the 2019 Venice Film Festival.
According to Deadline, the film's press notes at the festival contained an interview of Polanski where he talked about Tate's murder and the movie in detail.
"The way people see me, my 'image', did indeed start to form with Sharon Tate's death," he said.
Tate was eight-and-a-half months when she was killed along with four others at her residence by the followers of cult leader Charles Manson.
Polanski said the media covered the whole tragedy in a "most despicable" way, during which they also pointed fingers at him.
"When it happened, even though I was already going through a terrible time, the press got hold of the tragedy and, unsure of how to deal with it, covered it in the most despicable way, implying, among other things, that I was one of the people responsible for her murder, against a background of satanism.
"For them, my film 'Rosemary's Baby', proved that I was in league with the devil! It lasted several months, until the police finally found the real killers, Charles Manson and his 'family'," the 86-year-old director said.
Polanski said Tate's murder and its aftermath "haunts" him to this day.
"It is like a snowball, each season adds another layer. Absurd stories by women I have never seen before in my life who accuse me of things which supposedly happened more than half a century ago," he added.
"An Officer and a Spy", which features his current wife Emmanuelle Seigner and Oscar winner Jean Dujardin in the lead, is based on the real-life story of Captain Alfred Dreyfus (Garrel), a French-Jewish soldier accused of spying for the Germans. His trial had become the talk of Paris in the 1890s.
Dujardin stars as Georges Picquart, a counter-espionage officer who manages to prove that Dreyfus was, in fact, innocent after he was convicted.
Polanski drew parallels between the film and his own story as he addressed the allegations against him.
"Working, making a film like this helps me a lot. In the story, I sometimes find moments I have experienced myself, I can see the same determination to deny the facts and condemn me for things I have not done. Most of the people who harass me do not know me and know nothing about the case...
"My work is not therapy. However, I must admit that I am familiar with many of the workings of the apparatus of persecution shown in the film, and that has clearly inspired me," the director added.