‘Manchester’ actor opens up about allegations, upcoming movie AFFLECKSFLBAND... OSCARS


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By LINDSEY BAHR

AP Film Writer

LOS ANGELES

With a new movie coming out this fall, “The Old Man & The Gun,” Casey Affleck is speaking publicly about bowing out of presenting the best actress Oscar and past harassment allegations against him amid the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements.

In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Affleck reflects on the Oscars, the film, which will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, and past harassment allegations against him in light of #MeToo, apologizing for allowing an unprofessional atmosphere on set which led to two civil lawsuits from women he worked with that were later settled.

Excerpts from the conversation, Affleck’s first interview in a year, have been edited for clarity and brevity.

Q. What do you like about this film?

A. I love David (Lowery), I love working for David and it’s my third movie with him and he always assembles a really nice group of people around him. It’s such a nice experience to watch one of his movies. They all have a very gentle quality to them... And Robert Redford, what is there to say? He’s a legend, an incredibly sweet guy and just sharp as a tack. It was lovely working with him.

Q. The last time we spoke you were promoting another David Lowery film, “A Ghost Story.” What have you been up to in the last year?

A. I made “The Old Man & the Gun,” I made another movie called “Light of My Life,” and I’ve just been spending the rest of the time with my kids and my girlfriend and just trying to squeeze in a little bit of life. And if I’m not promoting a movie, I’m not going to do any press, so that’s why you haven’t heard from me.

Q. You also earlier this year made the decision to step away from presenting the best actress award at the Oscars. Why did you do that?

A. 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.

Q. During your best actor Oscar campaign for “Manchester By the Sea,” allegations resurfaced regarding two civil lawsuits from the making of your film “I’m Still Here,” that were settled in 2010. But we haven’t heard from you since #MeToo and Time’s Up became a big talking point in the culture. Has that made you reflect on or reevaluate anything about the experience or the atmosphere on that set?

A. First of all, that I was ever involved in a conflict that resulted in a lawsuit is something that I really regret. 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 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.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been listening a lot to this conversation, this public conversation, and learned a lot. 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. I was a boss. I was one of the producers on the set. This movie was (shot in 2008, 2009) and I was one of the producers. And it was a crazy mockumentary, (a) very unconventional movie. The cast was the crew and the crew was kind of the cast and 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. I really did not know what I was responsible for as the boss. 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.

Q. I know you talked last year about taking your kids to women’s marches and trying to educate them. Is there anything that has come up since #MeToo and Time’s Up emerged in the culture?

A. 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. 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.

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