In his first extensive interview since withdrawing from presenting at the 2018 Oscars during the height of the #MeToo movement protests, Casey Affleck said his absence was “the right thing to do.”
Promoting his upcoming new movie The Old Man & The Gun, Affleck answered several questions about his past, conduct that raised questions from #MeToo about his participation in the Academy Awards. It is traditional for the past year’s Best Actor (Affleck won for Manchester by the Sea) to present the Best Actress award, but Affleck declined to participate. Actresses Jennifer Lawrence and Jodi Foster assumed his duties.
His withdrawal was precipitated by accusations of conduct by Affleck on the set of 2010 movie I’m Still Here, which he directed. Lawsuits were filed by producer Amanda White and director of photography Magdalena Gorka and later settled.
Asked why he withdrew from this year’s Oscars, Affleck told Associated Press interviewer Lindsey Bahr, “I think it was the right thing to do, just given everything that was going on in our culture at the moment. And having two incredible women go present the best actress award felt like the right thing.”
Affleck said that he regretted “that I was ever involved in a conflict that resulted in a lawsuit,” and said, “I wish I had found a way to resolve things in a different way.”
“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. And we all agreed to just try to put it behind us and move on with our lives, which I think we deserve to do, and I want to respect them as they’ve respected me and my privacy. And that’s that.”
Affleck said he has learned a lot by listening to the public conversation on the topic. “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.”
In a mea culpa, Affleck admitted, “it was an unprofessional environment and, you know, the buck had to stop with me being one of the producers and I have 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. And I regret a lot of that.”
Affleck said his new production company is run with “this very, very smart woman (head of production and development Whitaker Lader) runs it with me and she’s been way ahead of the curve on all of these issues.”
He also genuflected toward the #MeToo movement. “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. 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.” Those are the people who are kind of leading this conversation and should be leading the conversation. 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.”