Napoleon movie slap ‘risks glamorizing domestic violence’: Anger over scene in new historical epic where Joaquin Phoenix punched actress in unscripted moment
- Actor Joaquin Phoenix has come under fire for spontaneously slapping his co-star in a scene from the upcoming Napoleon movie.
A new blockbuster starring Joaquin Phoenix about the life of Napoleon Bonaparte has received swift condemnation from a women’s charity after the Hollywood star admitted to slapping his co-star on set in an unscripted moment.
Joaquin Phoenix, who plays the eponymous lead in Sir Ridley Scott’s upcoming epic Napoleon, ended up slapping his co-star Vanessa Kirby, who plays his wife, Empress Joséphine, in a moment of spontaneity.
The film’s synopsis says it will depict Bonaparte’s rise to power and “his addictive and volatile relationship” with Joséphine.
Sir Ridley, 85, admitted in an interview with Empire magazine that the slap came completely out of nowhere, but said he was excited to see it.
He just slapped her. She didn’t know she was coming either, the whole room went [sharp intake of breath]. What could have been a boring scene suddenly had magic.
Sir Ridley Scott’s new film is a historic blockbuster which he says will depict Napoleon’s “addictive and volatile relationship” with his wife Joséphine.
A women’s charity has warned that the film and Phoenix’s spontaneous slap of her co-star may end up romanticizing the abuse.
Despite the criticism, Sir Ridley said the slap made the scene part of something much more exciting.
But while the timing may have enhanced the long-awaited film, a Women’s Aid spokesperson warned that it could also have broader consequences:
“While the depiction of domestic abuse and violence in film and television can lead to greater awareness and discussion of the issue, it is vital that it is handled responsibly, with great insight into the experience of survivors, and with the sole purpose of educating the viewer. – do not romanticize the abuse,’ they said.
Phoenix told the magazine that he and Kirby agreed to surprise each other on set:
The film is about the life of Napoleon Bonaparte, who seized power as Emperor of France shortly after the French Revolution.
Phoenix revealed that the pair had agreed to surprise each other while working on the film.
Women’s Aid said that the film would have to handle sensitive subjects like domestic abuse with extreme care.
She said, “You can slap me, you can grab me, you can pull me, you can kiss me, whatever.” We encourage each other, push each other, challenge ourselves to surprise each other at times.’
Added Kirby: “It’s the best when you have a creative partner and you say, ‘Okay, it’s all safe. I’m with you. And we’re going to go into dark places together.'”
Despite this, the Women’s Aid spokeswoman said that actors and filmmakers need to be careful how they behave on set:
“While this may have been a consensual part of the action process in this case, descriptions such as these could benefit from more restraint and the fact that domestic abuse and violence are completely intolerable in our society,” they added.