The actress was appearing on a panel at the Tribeca Film Festival with Steven Bauer, Al Pacino and Brian De Palma, when interviewer Jesse Kornbluth posed the question.
Footage posted online shows Kornbluth saying: “As the father of a daughter, I’m concerned about body image… The preparation for this film — what did you weigh?”
Members of the audience can then be heard groaning, to which Jesse says: “No no no, this is not the question you think it is.”
In response, Michelle replies: “Well, OK. I don’t know, But I was playing a cocaine addict. That was part of the physicality of the part which you have to consider.”
After the panel, many fans branded Kornbluth’s line of questioning as sexist, while praising Michelle for her handling of it:
Michelle’s answer continued: “You know, the movie was only supposed to be a three- or four-month shoot. I tried to time it so that as the movie went on, I became thinner and thinner, and more emaciated. The problem is, it ended up going six months.
“The one scene, the end of the film, where I was thinnest, it was always next week, then next week.
“I literally had members of the crew bringing me bagels because they were worried about how thin I was getting. I was living on tomato soup and Marlboros.”
When contacted by BuzzFeed News, Kornbluth said: “Nobody booed when I asked Michelle about playing that familiar female character — what she has described as ‘the set piece’ — and how she was able to, as she has described, ‘own and claim’ her performance against one of Al’s fiercest performances.”