Nine years after she signed a Hollywood petition demanding the release of Roman Polanski from Swiss custody, Natalie Portman says she regrets supporting the filmmaker, who pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor in 1977.

The Black Swan actress admitted it was a "mistake" backing the campaign to set free the 84-year-old filmmaker after he was arrested for an old warrant relating to the rape of a 13-year-old girl, but she agreed to get involved after being asked by someone she "respected".

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Natalie Portman attends the premiere of Paramount Pictures' 'Annihilation' at Regency Village Theatre on February 13, 2018 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

In an interview with BuzzFeed, Portman said: “I take responsibility for not thinking about it enough. Someone I respected gave it to me, and said, ‘I signed this. Will you too?' And I was like, 'sure.' It was a mistake.”

“The thing I feel like I gained from it is empathy towards people who have made mistakes. We lived in a different world, and that doesn’t excuse anything. But you can have your eyes opened and completely change the way you want to live. My eyes were not open.”

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Actor Natalie Portman speaks onstage during Vulture Festival LA presented by AT&T at Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on November 19, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Vulture Festival)

Polanski was jailed in Switzerland for two months, before being put under house arrest at his home in Gstaad; Swiss authorities eventually rejected the request for extradition to the US, releasing Polanski from custody. 

Portman wasn't the only famous face to sign the petition campaigning for the "immediate release" of Polanski, as the likes of directors Martin Scorsese, David Lynch and Darren Aronofsky, also put their names to the cause.

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Actress Natalie Portman attends the women's march Los Angeles on January 20, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

In explaining why she has joined the Time’s Up cause, Portman, 36, has revealed that, after her turn in The Professional in 1996, which she filmed over her 12th birthday, the roles she was offered were “sexy little girls”. 

Portman also dismissed questions about another controversial filmmaker, Woody Allen, who she worked with on Everyone Says I Love You when asked if his time was up because of allegations he sexually molested his daughter, Dylan Farrow, insisting the "conversation" should be directed elsewhere.

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Director/actress Natalie Portman attends the 2016 New York Jewish Film Festival closing night screening of 'A Tale Of Love And Darkness' at Walter Reade Theater on January 26, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

She said: "I don't think that's what the conversation should be about. I think it should be about: Why didn't Elaine May make a movie every year? Why didn't Nora Ephron make a movie every year? Where's the female version of Bill Cosby? Why don't we see any Asian women in films? There's so much art that's being lost by not giving opportunities to women and people of color."