Casey Affleck discussed the #MeToo movement in a wide-ranging interview with the Associated Press, his first time addressing the topic at length since skipping this year’s Academy Awards over lingering controversy concerning his own alleged past conduct.
“I think it was the right thing to do just given everything that was going on in our culture at the moment,” Affleck said of bowing out of the ceremony, where as the reigning Best Actor winner he would traditionally have presented the Best Actress award; Jennifer Lawrence and Jodie Foster jointly presented in his place. “Having two incredible women go present the Best Actress award felt like the right thing.”
Affleck won his Oscar in 2017 for Manchester by the Sea and dealt with the resurfacing of his alleged sexual misconduct while on the campaign trail. In 2010, he was sued for sexual harassment by two women who worked with him on the film I’m Still Here; both cases were settled out of court. Affleck previously denied the allegations. “It was settled to the satisfaction of all,” he told The New York Times last year. “I was hurt and upset — I am sure all were — but I am over it. It was an unfortunate situation — mostly for the innocent bystanders of the families of those involved.”
In his AP interview, Affleck spoke at length about his alleged conduct on the set of I’m Still Here, expressing regret for his “involvement in a conflict that resulted in a lawsuit” and admitting to contributing to an “unprofessional” work environment. “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,” he continued. “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. I was a boss. I was one of the producers on the set.… I behaved in a way and allowed others to behave in a way that was really unprofessional. And I’m sorry.”
Affleck was speaking to the AP about his involvement in frequent collaborator David Lowery’s new film, The Old Man and the Gun, in which he stars opposite Robert Redford. The film will premiere next month at the Toronto International Film Festival.
The actor also discussed his own role in the #MeToo movement, and how he feels it’s best for him to contribute. “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 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.”
You can read a transcript of the interview here, or watch a video of it above.