Casey Affleck apologized for the behavior he exhibited on the set of I’m Still Here, which resulted in two sexual harassment lawsuits, calling the way he acted “unprofessional” in an interview with the Associated Press.
Two women who worked with Affleck on the 2010 film filed lawsuits against him, which were settled that same year.
“It was an unprofessional environment,” Affleck said. “And you know, the buck had to stop with me, being one of the producers, and I had 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. I regret a lot of that. I behaved in a way and I allowed others to behave in a way that was really unprofessional, and I’m sorry.”
While Affleck appeared contrite, he agreed he did not agree with all the I'm Still Here claims — the film's producer and cinematographer described rampant sexual harassment and emotional abuse, including from Affleck, who allegedly propositioned both women and retaliated against them when they denied his sexual advances.
“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 with the ways I was being described and the things that were being 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,” Affleck said.
Controversy around Affleck’s inappropriate behavior resurfaced in 2017 when he took the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in Manchester by The Sea, during which actress Brie Larson reluctantly presented Affleck with the award and then stood to the side, refusing to clap.
At the time, Affleck addressed the controversy in vague terms.
"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," Affleck said, as reported by Esquire.
A year later, Affleck addressed his decision to step down from presenting at the 2018 Academy Awards.
“I think it was the right thing to do, just given everything going on in our culture at the moment, having two incredible women go present the best actress award really felt like the right thing,” Affleck said.
The actor acknowledged that the #MeToo movement shifted his perspective on several fronts.
“Over the last few years, I’ve been listening a lot to this conversation — to this public conversation and learned a lot. I’ve kind of moved from a place of being defensive to one of sort 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 said.
Affleck said he had learned to “keep my mouth shut” and expressed that he believed there is room for change in terms of how the entertainment industry treats women.
“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,” Affleck 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.'”