Morgan Freeman, who has been accused by multiple women of inappropriate behavior or harassment on set, at his production company and/or while marketing his movies, issued a brief statement of apology this morning, saying, “Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy. I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected — that was never my intent.”
The allegations against him, first reported by CNN, include everything from unwanted touching to inappropriate comments to asking a woman if she was wearing underwear. The only woman on the record was Freeman’s company co-founder, Lori McCreary, who allegedly witnessed one of the incidents.
The news about the 80 year-old actor, who was honored with the Screen Actors Guild lifetime achievement award in January, comes as the thesp is involved in roughly five high-profile and indie films around town, including Angel Has Fallen (the next installment of Olympus Has Fallen) and Disney and the Mark Gordon Co.’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms which doesn’t release until November.
Besides playing God in two films, Freeman has also done voiceover or has been a spokesman for a number of companies over the years, including Turkish Airlines, Mountain Dew and was to be the voice on the of the transit system SkyTrain in Canada this summer for VISA. He was also the voice for one of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign ads in 2016.
The Transit system was the first to step back from Freeman (see related story here), but we don’t expect them to be the last.
For Corporate America, pacting with individuals to represent their brand is a known risk they are often willing to take. But companies have backed away from using real people or celebs in past to protect their brand and, instead, use animated spokespeople for this very reason: an unforeseen controversy where they will have to spend heavily to redo marketing campaigns.