The Banker cast, director respond to Apple delaying film's release amid abuse allegations
The cast and crew of The Banker broke their silence this week over the abuse allegations that prompted Apple TV+ to delay the film’s release.
Starring Samuel L. Jackson as Joe Morris and Anthony Mackie as Bernard Garrett, The Banker chronicles the efforts of these businessmen in the 1960s to support African Americans in pursuit of their own American dream. At the end of November, Cynthia and Sheila Garrett came forward with sexual abuse allegations against their half-brother Bernard Garrett Jr., the son of the film’s subject and a co-producer on The Banker. They claimed he molested them for years when they were children. Garrett Jr. denied the allegations in an earlier statement to Deadline, but his name has since been scrubbed from the film’s credits.
On Monday, director/screenwriter George Nolfi, Jackson, Mackie, and 50 other individuals across the production signed a joint statement “from the filmmakers” that addressed the situation.
“We set out to tell a story we were very passionate about, recounting the remarkable lives of Bernard Garrett Sr. and Joe Morris, and their ground-breaking achievements combating racial inequality in the 1950s and ’60s,” the statement reads. “Though we have no way of knowing what may have transpired between Mr. Garrett’s children in the 1970s, including the allegations of abuse we have recently been made aware of, our hearts go out to anyone who has suffered. The film itself is not based on the recollections of any of Bernard Garrett Sr.’s children, but rather, on recorded interviews with Bernard Garrett Sr. himself, conducted in 1995, supported by congressional transcripts, court rulings, and other media articles from the era. We stand by the film, and its positive message of empowerment.”
Actors Nicholas Hoult, Nia Long, Jessie T. Usher, and Colm Meaney; writers Stan Younger, Niceole Levy, and Brad Caleb Kane; cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen; costume designer Aieisha Li; and composer H. Scott Salinas were also among those who signed the statement.
Garrett Jr. claimed the allegations “never happened” and called them “deeply humiliating and frustrating because I can never prove how false they are.” In response, Cynthia told IndieWire, in part, “My whole family of eight stands in unity on the truth of this. He has recently issued a statement filled with lies. With that statement he repeatedly rapes us.”
After the allegations were initially made, Apple TV+ removed The Banker, its first planned theatrical release, from the AFI Fest one day before its scheduled screening. It was eventually pushed from its Dec. 6 release slot in theaters for a still-undetermined future premiere.
“We purchased The Banker earlier this year as we were moved by the film’s entertaining and educational story about social change and financial literacy,” an earlier statement from Apple TV+ reads. “Last week some concerns surrounding the film were brought to our attention. We, along with the filmmakers, need some time to look into these matters and determine the best next steps. In light of this, we are no longer premiering The Banker at AFI Fest.”
A rep for Apple TV+ did not respond to EW’s previous request for clarification, but Deadline reports the film is still scheduled for a January premiere on the streaming platform.