Casey Affleck is apologizing for his “unprofessional” actions following sexual harassment allegations waged against him in 2010.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Affleck admitted to contributing to an unprofessional environment on the set of “I’m Still Here,” which was shot in 2008 and 2009. “I tolerated that kind of behavior from other people and I wish that I hadn’t. And I regret a lot of that,” Affleck, who directed, produced, and co-wrote the film, said. “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.”
Affleck reflected on the accusations made on the film’s set, in light of the Me Too and Time’s Up movements. Two women involved in the production filed two sexual harassment suits against Affleck eight years ago. Controversy surrounding the suits, settled in 2010, resurfaced during his Oscar campaign for “Manchester by the Sea” in 2016.
“First of all, that I was ever involved in a conflict that resulted in a lawsuit is something that I really regret,” he said. “I wish I had found a way to resolve things in a different way. I hate that. 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.”
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He continued: “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. And we all agreed to just try to put it behind us and move on with our lives, which I think we deserve to do, and I want to respect them as they’ve respected me and my privacy. And that’s that.”
Affleck, who is promoting his upcoming film “The Old Man & the Gun” — directed by David Lowery and co-starring Robert Redford — said he’s learned from the cultural conversation over the past couple of years. “I kind of moved from a place of being defensive to one of a more mature point of view, trying to find my own culpability. And once I did that, I discovered there was a lot to learn.”
Affleck addressed his decision to step back from presenting the best actress Oscar this year, despite his best actor win in 2017 for “Manchester by the Sea.”
“I think it was the right thing to do just given everything that was going on in our culture at the moment,” he said about breaking Academy Award tradition. “And having two incredible women go present the best actress award felt like the right thing.”
Now running his own production company, Sea Change Media, with Whitaker Lader, Affleck added that Lader has helped him create a safe work environment. “She’s been way ahead of the curve on all these issues,” he said.
“But I think bigger picture, 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 added. “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 also said he’s learned to “keep my mouth shut.”
“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,” Affleck said. “And we do that at our production company and I try to do it at home, and if I’m ever called upon by anyone to help in any way and contribute, I’d be more than happy to.”