Image Source: Getty / Laura Cavanaugh
Casey Affleck is currently riding high on the Oscar win and Golden Globe win for his film Manchester by the Sea, but his skyrocketing career isn't the only part of the 41-year-old's life that's been pulled into the spotlight. Amid all of the rave reviews for his dark, emotional performance, serious allegations of sexual harassment made against him by two women in 2010 have come back to haunt him.
In October 2016, Variety ran a cover story on Affleck, and squeezed in between stories about his childhood and glowing praise for his acting abilities was a brief blip about the lawsuits, which were brought against him by the female producer and the cinematographer of his 2010 mockumentary I'm Still Here. "People say whatever they want," he told Variety when asked about the charges, which were later settled out of court. "Sometimes it doesn't matter how you respond . . . I guess people think if you're well-known, it's perfectly fine to say anything you want. I don't know why that is. But it shouldn't be, because everybody has families and lives." Despite his family-centric brushoff of the claims, what allegedly happened between him and the women working on the set of his film deserves far more than a blip.
Affleck and other male crew members allegedly almost immediately made comments about having sex with her and suggested she have sex with the film's camera assistant.The harassment occurred multiple times on the set of the ill-received mockumentary Affleck made with his then-brother-in-law Joaquin Phoenix, according to the film's producer Amanda White and its cinematographer Magdalena Gorka. In December 2008, White signed on to be a producer of the doc after having worked with Affleck a few times in the past. In her formal complaint (which you can read in full here), she claimed that the younger Affleck brother repeatedly called women "cows" on set, obnoxiously discussed his sexual encounters, and at one point ordered a crew member to flash his penis at her despite her objections. She also made note of an incident where Affleck asked "Isn't it about time you get pregnant?" after hearing how old she was and made comments about how she should have sex with one of the male crew members so she could have a baby.
On top of White's accusations about his lewd behavior, she claimed that Affleck physically threatened her more than once. She said that after rebuffing his request to share a hotel room with him one night, he grabbed her in "a hostile manner" to try to manipulate her into submitting to his demands. She alleged that when she still said no, he called her a variety of "profane names" via text message. White further alleged that while shooting the documentary in Costa Rica one night, she wasn't able to return to her bedroom because Affleck and Phoenix — the brother of Affleck's wife, Summer, whom he split from after 10 years of marriage in March 2016 — had locked the door so they could have sex with two women they'd invited inside. On July 23, 2010, White filed a $2 million lawsuit against the actor in Los Angeles Superior Court.
While still working as a producer, White was instructed to renegotiate a contract with Magdalena Gorka, the film's director of photography, who'd left production early on because of her own alleged negative experiences with Affleck. Gorka described her time working with him in her formal complaint (which you can read in full here) as "the most traumatizing of her career" due to "routine instances of sexual harassment." When she first started working, Affleck and other male crew members allegedly almost immediately made comments about having sex with her and suggested she have sex with the film's camera assistant (Affleck's close friend). Gorka hoped that things would get better as production wore on, but she alleged that Affleck's behavior only escalated.
Image Source: Getty / Kevin Winter
In mid-December 2008, she traveled to NYC with other crew members to shoot scenes involving Phoenix. Instead of putting the crew up in a hotel, Affleck and Phoenix decided to have them stay overnight in their apartment. Gorka claimed that Phoenix told her she could take his bedroom while he slept in the living room, only for her to wake up in the middle of the night and discover Affleck was lying in bed with her. In her complaint, she described him as "curled up next to her in the bed wearing only his underwear and a T-shirt. He had his arm around her, was caressing her back, his face was within inches of hers and his breath reeked of alcohol." Feeling "shocked and repulsed" since she wasn't sure of how long he'd been there or if he'd touched her while she slept, she said she told him to get out. He allegedly asked her why he had to leave, to which she replied, "Because you are married and you are my boss." She said he "left and slammed the door in anger." The next morning, Gorka flew back to LA, told her agent what allegedly happened, and quit I'm Still Here.
After going a few weeks without work, White convinced Gorka to continue working on the film, which she agreed to in hopes that the presence of both women on set would deter further harassment. Unfortunately, Gorka alleges that she was once again subjected to "a nearly daily barrage of sexual comments, innuendo, and unwelcome advances by crew members, within the presence and with the active encouragement of Affleck." She resigned once again, which she said resulted in Affleck refusing to give her the "director of photography" credit on the film as retaliation. One week after White filed her lawsuit in 2010, Gorka filed a $2.25 million suit of her own against Affleck in LA Superior Court, citing the "humiliation, embarrassment, and emotional distress as a direct result of the harassment and abuse she endured during production." White also claimed she was denied the payment of her producer's fee ($50,000) after complaining about Affleck's behavior and that she had yet to be paid at all for the three months she worked on the film at the time she filed her official complaint. Affleck initially denied the allegations and briefly threatened to countersue but eventually settled both suits out of court through mediation.
The Golden Globe Awards aired in January, kicking off a long line of award season appearances from the actor thanks to the multiple award shows and ceremonies scheduled through February. Unlike Nate Parker and Bill Cosby before him (both of whose alleged crimes are different and legally more serious, it's important to note), Affleck has been raking in accolade after accolade rather than career-ending blows to his reputation. He won an Oscar, a BAFTA, a Golden Globe, a Spirit Award, a Gotham award, and more for his work in Manchester by the Sea. Much like a former reality star who was elected into the highest office our country has after bragging about his preferred methods of sexual assault and a high-profile actor who's scored plenty of roles after being involved in a domestic violence dispute, it doesn't look like Affleck will ever be tried in the court of public opinion for his alleged actions. In fact, it's quite the opposite. It's clear that Hollywood is not only standing by him, but celebrating him.
This post has been updated with new information.