I guess when you make a movie about the Irish Republican Army and Northern Ireland's infamous "Troubles," you're bound to court some controversy. Fifty Dead Men Walking, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival despite legal threats from the man whose life it's based on (he has since dropped his suit), has now drawn more fire because of comments made by one of its stars, Rose McGowan.

During an interview in Toronto last week, McGowan, who plays an IRA operative in the film and whose father is Irish, said: "I imagine, had I grown up in Belfast, I would 100 percent have been in the IRA.... My heart just broke for the cause. Violence is not to be played out daily and provide an answer to problems, but I understand it."

This has caused a bit of a hullabaloo in that part of the world, where the IRA was officially classified as a terrorist group. (Its proponents saw themselves more as freedom fighters, striving to throw off the shackles of British rule.) Martin McGartland, the British secret agent whose infiltration of the IRA is the basis of the film, said, "Rose McGowan's comments were insulting to victims of IRA terrorism and she should apologize. It's easy to say this sort of thing when you live in L.A." A victims' advocacy group leader said, "She may as well add that she would have joined al-Qaeda and flew those planes into the Twin Towers had she been born a disgruntled Muslim."
Now, according to The Hollywood Reporter, even the film's producers are distancing themselves from McGowan. An official statement says: "Ms. McGowan's views were private ones, and as such they greatly saddened the film's producers.... [Her views] are not shared nor endorsed by anybody associated with the production or creative elements of the film." The film's director, Kari Skogland, added, "Rose's personal opinions of Northern Ireland do not reflect the perspective of the film in any way."

I got the impression McGowan was only trying to say that she sympathized with the IRA's point of view (i.e., wanting to break off from the United Kingdom), not that she endorsed the group's violent methods. On the other hand, when you're talking about something as notorious and controversial as the IRA, you need to be very careful how you express yourself, lest people think you're a terrorist sympathizer.

What do you think? Was McGowan out of line? Or should an actress be able to say whatever she wants without her filmmakers scolding her?