In his first interview in about a year, Casey Affleck finally addressed earlier harassment allegations, how he initially handled them, his current role in the #MeToo movement, and more.
Most notably, the actor apologized for his "unprofessional" behavior on the set of 2010's I'm Still Here, which resulted in two lawsuits being filed against him by two women who worked on the film. According to the Associated Press, only one of the women sued for sexual harassment; however, they both described an "uncomfortable atmosphere" on set.
"First of all, that I was ever involved in a conflict that resulted in a lawsuit is something that I really regret," Affleck told the AP on Thursday. "I wish I had found a way to resolve things in a different way. I hate that. I had never had any complaints like that made about me before in my life and it was really embarrassing."
The suits were eventually settled out of court for undisclosed amounts. On Thursday, Affleck said that he didn't know how to handle the situation, and he also didn't agree with the women's descriptions of him or his behavior, but he ultimately "wanted to make it right."
"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. I really did not know what I was responsible for as the boss," Affleck said. "I don’t even know if I thought of myself as the boss. But I behaved in a way and allowed others to behave in a way that was really unprofessional. And I’m sorry."
The settlements didn't stop the lawsuits from resurfacing during the 2017 awards season, though. He won the Oscar for Best Actor and a number of additional awards for his role in Manchester by the Sea, but the scandal regarding the allegations gained even more traction during the rise of #MeToo and Time's Up. By the 2018 Oscars, Affleck chose to bow out of presenting the award for Best Actress.
"I think it was the right thing to do just given everything that was going on in our culture at the moment," Affleck told the AP. "And having two incredible women [Jodie Foster and Jennifer Lawrence] go present the Best Actress award felt like the right thing."
As the #MeToo movement presses on, Affleck said he's "been listening a lot to this conversation, this public conversation, and learned a lot."
Affleck added that he's learned from his past, and he wants his sons to do the same. "Well, I’ve taken these lessons with me that I’ve learned not just to work but to home and as dad, and it informs how you parent," he said. "I have two boys, so I want to be in a world where grown men model compassion and decency and also contrition when it’s called for, and I certainly tell them to own their mistakes when they make them."