The actor publicly addressed sexual harassment accusations against him that resurfaced last year.
“I behaved in a way and allowed others to behave in a way that was really unprofessional. And I’m sorry,” Affleck told The Associated Press in an interview published Thursday.
The 42-year-old said that the entire experience was “really embarrassing” and that he “didn’t know how to handle” it at the time.
“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,” he said. “I hate that.”
The actor was accused of verbal and physical harassment in 2010 by two women who worked with him on the set of “I’m Still Here,” a hoax documentary-style film directed by Affleck and starring Joaquin Phoenix. Affleck denied all the allegations at the time and later settled two lawsuits filed by the accusers for undisclosed amounts. All parties involved in the lawsuit, including Affleck, Phoenix and the two women, reportedly signed nondisclosure agreements.
The allegations against Affleck resurfaced last fall when the actor was receiving critical acclaim for his starring role in “Manchester by the Sea.” The Me Too movement had just taken off, however, and Affleck was deemed controversial in light of the past allegations. He still won many awards for his work in that movie, including an Oscar for Best Actor.
Affleck chose to skip the Oscars earlier this year and backed 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 AP about that decision. “And having two incredible women go present the Best Actress award felt like the right thing.”
He added that his time away from the limelight, as public support for the Me Too and Time’s Up movements grew, helped him reflect on his own behavior during the filming of “I’m Still Here.”
“Over the past couple of years, I’ve been listening a lot to this conversation, this public conversation, and learned a lot,” Affleck said. “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.”
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. Casey Affleck
Affleck said he hopes he can be a good role model for his two sons, Indiana and Atticus.
“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 explained. “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.”
Now, Affleck said, he knows he needs to keep his mouth shut and listen to the women driving the Me Too reckoning.
“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,” he said. “And we do that at our production company and I try to do it at home. And if I’m ever called upon by anyone to help in any way and contribute, I’d be more than happy to.”
This story has been updated to include more details about who signed nondisclosure agreements after the lawsuits were settled.