Casey Affleck was awarded Best Actor at the Oscars on Sunday night – a decision which sparked outrage on social media, with many accusing Academy voters of overlooking sexual harassment allegations from the actor’s past.
Now, in a new interview with the Boston Globe, the Manchester By The Sea star has addressed the controversy, paraphrased by the publication as saying that “none of the people who are condemning him online know what happened”.
“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 told the publication in a phone call.
“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.”
The actor was sued for sexual harassment by two co-workers from his 2010 film, I’m Still Here: cinematographer Magdalena Gorka and producer Amanda White.
According to court documents, Gorka alleged that “Casey had entered [her] bedroom while she was asleep and crawled into the bed”. When she awoke, “Casey was curled up next to her in the bed wearing only his underwear and a T-shirt. He had his arm around her [and] was caressing her back.”
In a separate lawsuit, White accused him of “uninvited and unwelcome sexual advances in the workplace.”
Affleck denied any wrongdoing and the lawsuit was settled out of court. Notably, all of the involved parties have since been legally prohibited from commenting on the issue.
Yet, despite the fact the lawsuit was settle almost seven years ago, the public have not forgotten about it – nor have they forgiven Affleck.
Fresh Off The Boat‘s Constance Wu was one of the first to criticise the Academy for their decision to even nominate the actor for an award.
Not only did she fire off a number of tweets about Affleck’s nomination, but also penned an extensive post explaining how she felt the Academy’s decision devalues not only the awards themselves but acting as an art form.
“Casey Affleck’s win will be a nod to Trump’s,” she said.
And, when Affleck was awarded Best Actor on Sunday evening, the criticism continued.
“Casey Affleck won Best Actor, Donald Trump is now President. Tell me again how sexual assault charges can ‘ruin a man’s career’,” wrote one, following his Oscars win.
Brie Larson seemingly made her feelings clear on Affleck’s win; after handing him his statuette, she stood to the side of the stage and refused to applaud his acceptance speech. And her silent protest did not go unnoticed by her fans.
It is worth remembering that the film industry has a vast unacknowledged history of normalised abuse. Earlier this year, former child star Corey Feldman described his ordeal at the hands of a Hollywood paedophile ring – and alleged that his The Lost Boys co-star, Corey Haim, was raped when he was 11 years old.
“He had more direct abuse than I did,” he said. “With me, there was some molestation and it did come from several hands, so to speak, but with Corey, his was direct rape, whereas mine was not actual rape. And his also occurred when he was 11.”
Meanwhile, just a few months ago, Thandie Newton told W Magazine about an unidentified director’s abusive behaviour during a casting audition early on in her career.
“[He] had a camera shooting up my skirt and asked me to touch my tits and think about the guy making love to me in the scene. I thought, ‘OK, this is a little weird,’ but there was a female casting director in the room and I’d done weird stuff before so I did it.”
Newton went on to explain that, years later at a film festival, a producer drunkenly told her, “‘Oh, Thandie, I’ve seen you recently!’ And he lurched away looking really shocked that he’d said that.”
When the Mission Impossible II star’s husband asked the man for clarification he explained that “the director was showing that audition tape to his friends after poker games at his house. And they would all get off on it,” Newton said.
For confidential and free support about rape or sexual assault, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline 24/7 at 800.656.HOPE. You can also IM anonymously at online.rainn.org.
Images: Rex Pictures