When the winner for Best Actor in a Leading Role was announced at Sunday’s Oscars, the mood was far from celebratory. Unlike last year, when the whole world seemed to cheer as long-overdue actor Leonardo DiCaprio FINALLY nabbed his first gold statue, guests like Chrissy Teigen pretended to be sleeping during winner Casey Affleck’s acceptance speech, and last year’s Best Actress in a Leading Role, Brie Larson, outright refused to clap.
That’s because despite the performance he may have given in Manchester by the Sea, Affleck is also a man accused of sexual assault. Back in 2010, some pretty heavy allegations began to surface about misconduct on the set of the Joaquin Phoenix documentary, I’m Still Here.
According to reports, Affleck was not only verbally abusive, but he sexually harassed multiple women, including the film’s producer Amanda White, who filed a formal complaint against Affleck that describes how he instructed a crew member to expose himself to White, referred to women as “cows,” and forcefully grabbed her when she refused to sleep in a hotel room with him. A complaint was also filed by the film’s cinematographer, Magdalena Gorka, who says that Affleck (as well as other members of the crew) often made lewd comments, suggested she engage in sexual activity with the camera assistant, and, perhaps worst of all, that Affleck climbed into her bed while wearing just his underwear and a t-shirt, where she awoke to him caressing her back.
The matter was settled out of court, but the question of whether or not Affleck committed the suggested crimes is still a matter of public debate.
Now, the actor has spoken out about the less-than-enthusiastic reaction to his win to the Boston Globe, as well as the allegations in question. Though he told the outlet that both sides have been prohibited from speaking out on the matter directly, he did give an abstract response addressing the controversy.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Hmmmm. It’s a statement that could be construed in one of several ways: the first being that Affleck is, in fact, referring to the incidents in question, and now believes that women should not be harassed as they claim to have been on the set of his own film, but that he cannot change the past.
The second would be that Affleck feels he doesn’t deserve the negative treatment he’s been receiving surrounding his win, but that he cannot change other people’s viewpoints.
While we may never know the true meaning of his statements, given the court’s gag orders to either side, it’s certainly a far cry from the heartfelt apology all of the women working on the film would be deserving of should their statements ring true.
What do you think of Affleck’s statement? Share with us @BritandCo.
(h/t Refinery 29, photos via Jerod Harris, Christopher Polk, + Frazer Harrison/Getty)