Casey Affleck has withdrawn from presenting the Oscar for best actress at this year’s Academy Awards. The Manchester by the Sea star won best actor at the 2017 Oscars, and tradition dictates that the best actor winner from the previous year presents the best actress award the following year, and vice versa.
Affleck is understood to have pulled out of the event in an effort to avoid any distraction from the #MeToo movement, having been accused of sexual harassment by two women.
An Oscars spokeswoman confirmed that Affleck would not attend, saying: “We appreciate the decision to keep the focus on the show and on the great work of this year.”
Two crew members on the Affleck-directed Mockumentary film I’m Still Here, Amanda White and Magdalena Gorka, allege that they were harassed by him during the making of the movie.
White claimed that Affleck refused to pay her salary because she would not spend the night with him and that she was subject to “a nearly daily barrage of sexual comments, innuendo and unwelcome advances by crew members, within the presence and with the active encouragement of Affleck”.
Gorka alleged that Affleck had crawled into bed with her while she was asleep.
The two women sued Affleck for alleged sexual harassment in 2010. He denied the allegations and the lawsuits were settled out of court.
An online petition demanding the Academy not allow Affleck on stage this year reached almost 20,000 names.
Affleck’s 2017 Academy Award was presented by Brie Larson, who has been a vocal advocate for sexual assault victims. She expressed no jubilation when giving Affleck the award to Affleck and refused to clap. She told Vanity Fair that what she did on stage “spoke for itself”.