Carey Mulligan receives apology for comment about not being “hot enough”

Variety has issued an apology to actress Carey Mulligan for insinuating that she wasn’t hot enough for the lead role in Promising Young Woman.

Earlier this week, Promising Young Woman actress Carey Mulligan responded to an apology from Variety regarding a comment made about her role in the film.

Variety’s review of the movie, although mostly positive, mentioned that producer Margot Robbie would have better suited the lead and according to Mulligan, insinuated that she wasn’t “hot enough to pull off this kind of ruse”.

carey mulligan
Image: Promising Young Woman / Collider

Mulligan’s disapproval about the comment was revealed during an interview with The New York Times. After debating mid-interview whether she should speak up about it, Mulligan shed light on the comment that read:

“Margot Robbie is a producer here, and one can perhaps too easily imagine the role might have been intended her her… whereas with this star, Cassie wears her pickup-bait gear like bad drag; even her blonde hair feels like a put on.”

Mulligan made clear in the interview that rather than damaging her ego, these type of comments damage a culture where actresses won’t be critiqued on their physical appearance, the very concept her character challenges in the film.

“Really? For this film, you’re going to write something that is so transparent? Now? In 2020? I just couldn’t believe it”. 

Promising Young Woman breaks the cultural expectation that a woman should look or act a certain way. The film includes many small but disturbingly realistic scenarios that happen all too frequently, including comments by men to “smile more”, “wear less makeup”, and dress a certain way that doesn’t “ask for it”. 

Although Mulligan mentioned how nerve-racking it was to rock the boat of a big publication during Variety’s Actors on Actors series with Zendaya, her courage paid off as Variety issued an apology about the comment.

The apology recognised the “insensitive language and insinuation in our review of Promising Young Woman that minimised her daring performance”. 

Despite receiving support from Variety, Mulligan’s belief that criticising a lack of attractiveness has not been met without controversy.

In an piece by The Washington Post, columnist Alyssa Rosenberg voices her opinion that physical appearance plays a crucial role in Hollywood.

She says: “it’s silly – and not just silly but actually counterproductive – to pretend that looks don’t matter. Of course they do.” 

While Rosenberg seems to believe that Variety’s apology has set an unreasonable standard for the criticism of beauty in the industry, Mulligan firmly believes that this is the direction the industry needs to take.

The actress puts forward that criticism of women on screen has led to a lack of representation of ‘real woman’without airbrush and unrealistic expectations of perfection.

When discussing the apology with Zendaya, Mulligan expressed her thrill to have drawn a line under the comment and receive a mostly positive response in return.