In a 2003 interview with The Howard Stern Show, uncovered by Jezebel, Kill Bill director Tarantino seemingly defended Polanski:
"He didn't rape a 13-year-old. It was statutory rape... he had sex with a minor," Tarantino stated on the radio show. "That's not rape. To me, when you use the word rape, you’re talking about violent, throwing them down — it's like one of the most violent crimes in the world. You can't throw the word rape around."
In a statement to IndieWire, Tarantino apologized for the comments. "I want to publicly apologize to Samantha Geimer for my cavalier remarks on The Howard Stern Show speculating about her and the crime that was committed against her," he wrote. "Fifteen years later, I realize how wrong I was. Ms. Geimer WAS raped by Roman Polanski."
Now, Geimer has told IndieWire that Tarantino went one step further: He called her personally to apologize for his comments.
"I think he realizes that the things he said to be shocking involve an actual person — me — and he wasn’t thinking about that at the time. He felt bad about it," Geimer told the outlet, before adding: "He is sincere in his apology and I told him I felt my rape was being used to attack him by people who don't care about what happened to me, and I do take offense to that."
Geimer also told IndieWire that she had received an apology letter from Polanski himself as well. The Rosemary's Baby director pled guilty to the statutory rape of Geimer in 1979. He fled the United States before he could be sentenced. Though he has not returned to Hollywood, Polanski has made many films in the years since pleading guilty to the sex crime, including The Pianist, which earned him the Oscar for Best Director in 2002. Also since then, a number of other women have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct by Polanski.
"Like I said about Quentin, I don’t need an apology, because I don’t care about what he said. Why should I, right? I don’t let that stuff bother me," she said. "But in actuality, I’m kind of wrong, because it seems that it is nice to have an apology. That one from Roman ended up being super-meaningful."
Geimer said that when she spoke to Tarantino she knew he just wasn’t thinking. "I didn’t take it personally the way he was talking on [The Howard Stern Show]," she said. "But then once I saw it in writing the next day, I realized, it did make me feel better. So, apologies — I think you should take them, even if you don’t want them."
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, it's clear that there are many people who have fumbled with how to handle allegations of sexual assault. Clearly, Tarantino's interview with Stern was a lesson in what not to say about a rape survivor's experience. Still, the fact that the director has worked at making amends with the person he hurt is encouraging: It should set an example for every person whose words shamed, belittled, or ignored rape survivor's plight.
Refinery29 has reached out to reps for Polanski, Geimer, and Tarantino. We will update this post should we hear back.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)