Casey Affleck is giving his thoughts on the #MeToo and Time's Up movements, after he caused controversy for his 2017 Oscar win for Best Actor due to allegations of sexual harassment against him in his past.
In a new interview with The Associated Press, Affleck talks candidly about opting not to present the Best Actress Oscar at the ceremony in March due to the controversy. Instead, Jennifer Lawrence and Jodie Foster presented the award to this year's winner, Frances McDormand.
"I think it was the right thing to do just given everything that was going on in our culture at the moment," Affleck says. "And having two incredible women go present the best actress award felt like the right thing."
The allegations against Affleck stem from 2010 lawsuits filed by two women who worked with him on his controversial film starring then bother-in-law Joaquin Phoenix, I'm Still Here. Amanda White, a producer, and Magdalena Gorka, a cinematographer, both filed a lawsuit against Affleck, and settled out of court in September of that year. Both claimed they were subjected to vulgar treatment, and Affleck denied the claims.
But when asked about the #MeToo and Times's Up movements, the 42-year-old actor did acknowledge "unprofessional" behavior on the I'm Still Here set and apologized -- specifically, for him being in a position of power and not putting a stop to it.
"Over the past couple of years, I’ve been listening a lot to this conversation, this public conversation, and learned a lot," he says. "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. I was a boss. I was one of the producers on the set. This movie was (shot in 2008, 2009) and I was one of the producers. And it was a crazy mockumentary, (a) very unconventional movie. The cast was the crew, and the crew was kind of the cast, and it was an unprofessional environment and, you know, the buck had to stop with me being one of the producers, and I have to accept responsibility for that, and that was a mistake."
"And I contributed to that unprofessional environment and I tolerated that kind of behavior from other people and I wish that I hadn’t," he continues. "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."
Affleck says he now wants to pass down what he's learned from the movements to his sons with ex-wife Summer Phoenix, 14-year-old Indiana and 10-year-old Atticus.
"Well, I’ve taken these lessons with me that I’ve learned not just to work, but to home and as a dad, and it informs how you parent," he notes. "I have two boys so I want to be in a world where grown men model compassion and decency and also contrition when it’s called for, and I certainly tell them to own their mistakes when they make them."
He also had no complaint when it comes to some arguing he had been treated unfairly in regard to the allegations.
"Whether I have or haven’t, I think that there are people in the world who deal with much greater hardship than that," he comments. "And they do so without complaint. So I don’t think I need to say anything else about it."
Last March, Affleck broke his silence on the allegations against him, telling The Boston Globe in a statement, ""I believe that any kind of mistreatment of anyone for any reason is unacceptable and abhorrent, and everyone deserves to be treated with respect in the workplace and anywhere else. There's really nothing I can do about it. Other than live my life the way I know I live it, and to speak to what my own values are, and how I try to live by them all the time."
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