Actor Casey Affleck has addressed the sexual harassment allegations against him, apologising for his “unprofessional” actions during the filming of mockumentary I’m Still Here.
Speaking to Associated Press, Affleck said he took responsibility for the “really unprofessional” atmosphere of the 2010 movie, which resulted in two sexual harassment suits against him.
“It was an unprofessional environment … the buck had to stop with me being one of the producers and I have to accept responsibility for that,” said Affleck, who produced and directed the film. “I contributed to that unprofessional environment and I tolerated that kind of behaviour from other people and I wish that I hadn’t.
“And I regret a lot of that. I really did not know what I was responsible for as the boss. I don’t even know if I thought of myself as the boss. But I behaved in a way and allowed others to behave in a way that was really unprofessional. And I’m sorry.”
A producer on the film sued the actor for sexual harassment and the infliction of emotional distress, claiming Affleck instructed a male crew member to show her his genitals.
The lawsuit read (via Reuters): “Affleck repeatedly referred to women as ‘cows’; he discussed his sexual exploits and those of other celebrities that he allegedly witnessed; and asked Plaintiff, after learning her age, ‘Isn’t it about time you get pregnant?’ Affleck inappropriately suggested that Plaintiff and a male crew member have a baby together.”
Affleck said, “I had never had any complaints like that made about me before in my life and it was really embarrassing and I didn’t know how to handle it and I didn’t agree with everything, the way I was being described, and the things that were said about me, but I wanted to try to make it right, so we made it right in the way that was asked at the time.”
The lawsuits against him may have been settled out of court, but Affleck’s actions were re-surfaced during his 2016 Oscar campaign for Manchester by the Sea and the following year’s #MeToo and Time’s Up movements.
And while he didn’t address the campaigns against sexual harassment when they first emerged, Affleck has now said he’s had time to reflect on sexism in the movie industry.
“In this business, women have been underrepresented and underpaid and objectified and diminished and humiliated and belittled in a bazillion ways and just generally had a mountain of grief thrown at them forever,” he said.
“And no one was really making too much of a fuss about it, myself included, until a few women with the kind of courage and wisdom to stand up and say, ‘You know what? Enough is enough.’”
He continued: “Those are the people who are kind of leading this conversation and should be leading the conversation. And I know just enough to know that in general, I need to keep my mouth shut and listen and try to figure out what’s going on and be a supporter and a follower in the little, teeny tiny ways that I can.”