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Robert Harris says he won't change position on Roman Polanski 'because the fashion has changed'

The Independent logo The Independent 24/06/2018 Clarisse Loughrey

Author Robert Harris has said he will not change his position on working with Roman Polanski "because the fashion has changed".

In 1977, the filmmaker was charged with five counts of unlawful sexual intercourse against a 13-year-old. Facing potential imprisonment and deportation, he moved in 1978 to France, where he could not be extradited.

He and Harris have a history of collaboration - one the author was asked if would consider renewing in the light of the #MeToo movement that saw a number of prominent male figures in Hollywood and other industries accused of sexual harassment and assault.

Harris told The Andrew Marr Show: "The culture has completely changed.

"And so the question is: 'Do you then say, OK fine, I follow the culture.' Or do I say: 'Well, he hasn't done anything since then. He won the Oscar, he got a standing ovation in Los Angeles.'

"The zeitgeist has changed. Do you change with it? I don't know, to be honest with you. Morally, I don't see why I should change my position because the fashion has changed."

Harris, best known for his historical fiction, had penned a screenplay adaptation in 2007 of his most famous novel, Pompeii, for Polanski to direct, having previously admitted the director's film Chinatown had been a major inspiration for the book.

After the project was cancelled, Polanski and Harris co-wrote an adaptation of Harris' bestseller The Ghost, called The Ghost Writer in the US, which went on to star Ewan McGregor, Olivia Williams, Pierce Brosnan, and Kim Cattrall.

The film premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in 2010, where Polanski won the Silver Bear for Best Director.

Harris was inspired to write his novel An Officer and a Spy because of Polanski's own interest in the Dreyfus affair; in 2012, he had penned a screenplay adaptation which Polanski was also to direct, though the project fell through.

Harris also said that, at the time of making The Ghost: "Nobody said to me: 'Oh my god, you mustn't go and work with him.' Not a soul.

"And he would be having dinner with the French president, and he was travelling all over the world. Only to Britain and America could he not come."

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