Kristen Stewart, the American actress best-known for her role as Bella in the The Twilight Saga films, was forced to apologise this weekend after comparing the experience of media attention from the paparazzi to the sensation of being "raped".
The comments, made during a recent magazine interview, outraged support groups for rape victims and drew intense criticism of the actress who has often spoken out against rape, even playing the role of a rape victim in the 2004 film Speak.
In an interview published in Elle magazine last week, Ms Stewart said: "What you don't see are the cameras shoved in my face and the bizarre intrusive questions being asked, or the people falling over themselves, screaming and taunting to get a reaction," she said. "The photos are so – I feel like I'm looking at someone being raped."
This weekend Ms Stewart, who is up for Best Female Performance at this year's MTV Movie Awards, was contrite. In an interview with People magazine, she said: "I made an enormous mistake – clearly and obviously. And I'm really sorry about my choice of words. I've made stupid remarks before, and I've always reasoned 'whatever'. They can think what they want."
She added: Violated' definitely would have been a better way of expressing the thought. People thinking that I'm insensitive about this subject rips my guts out.
"I made a big mistake."
Stewart, who is currently promoting The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, the third instalment of the series in Korea, has in the past delivered public service announcements for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. Yesterday, the organisation issued a statement saying it appreciated her apology and looks forward to working with her again in the future.
Among those likely to be less worried about the publicity generated by the outburst are Little, Brown, the publishers of Stephanie Meyer's latest Twilight book, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, which was released amid fanfare yesterday. The first copies of one of this year's most hotly anticipated new books were delivered by a group of "werewolf" pallbearers to Waterstone's flagship Piccadilly store in central London.
Ms Stewart's outburst is the latest controversy surrounding Hollywood stars who have condemned press intrusion.
A man accused of stalking Keira Knightley walked free last week after the actress refused to attend court to give evidence against him. Marek Daniluk was arrested in February after being accused of bombarding the actress with gifts and letters and attempting to grab her arm outside a West End theatre.
Nicole Kidman has said she fears for her life at the hands of the paparazzi and now employs 24-hour security. In 2005 she won an injunction to keep two freelance cameramen away from her family. She later took one of them, Jamie Fawcett, to court, accusing him of planting a listening device outside her Sydney home. All charges were subsequently dropped.
Julia Roberts has also been embroiled in dramatic encounters with cameramen who attempted to snap her as she collected her children from school. One ordeal in 2007 saw her pursue a car full of photographers, pull them over, and tell them to stop using their cameras
"I want to talk to you about the fact that you're at a school where children go," she is reported to have told one. "Turn it off!"