MOVIES Af­fleck moves on from law­suits

Ac­tor pro­mot­ing new movie be­lieves he has learned from past mis­takes

Times Colonist - - Arts - LINDSEY BAHR

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 in­ter­view with the As­so­ci­ated Press, Af­fleck re­flects on the Os­cars, the film, which will pre­mière 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.

AP: What do you like about this film?

Af­fleck: 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.

AP: 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? Af­fleck: 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.

AP: 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?

Af­fleck: 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.

AP: 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 re-eval­u­ate any­thing about the ex­pe­ri­ence or the at­mos­phere on that set?

Af­fleck: 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 be­hav­iour 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.

AP: 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?

Af­fleck: 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.

AP: You’re also a boss, you have a pro­duc­tion com­pany, Sea Change Me­dia, and you’ve di­rected your first film since I’m Still Here too. Can you talk about how you have evolved and changed to cre­ate a safe work­ing en­vi­ron­ment for peo­ple who work for you?

Af­fleck: I think that, there’s been a lot of talk about new things in re­gards to the work­place and I have this pro­duc­tion com­pany and this very, very smart woman runs it with me and she’s been way ahead of the curve on all of these is­sues.

But I think big­ger pic­ture, in this busi­ness, women have been un­der­rep­re­sented and un­der­paid and ob­jec­ti­fied and di­min­ished and hu­mil­i­ated and be­lit­tled in a bazil­lion ways and just gen­er­ally had a moun­tain of grief thrown at them for­ever. And no one was re­ally mak­ing too much of a fuss about it, my­self in­cluded, un­til a few women with the kind of courage and wis­dom to stand up and say, “You know what? Enough is enough.” Those are the peo­ple who are kind of lead­ing this con­ver­sa­tion and should be lead­ing the con­ver­sa­tion. And 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. 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.

AP: Your Manch­ester by the Sea di­rec­tor Kenneth Lonergan had implied that you had been treated un­fairly. Do you have any re­sponse to that?

Af­fleck: Whether I have or haven’t, I think that there are peo­ple in the world who deal with much greater hard­ship than that. And they do so with­out com­plaint. So I don’t think I need to say any­thing else about it.

AP: And at your pro­duc­tion com­pany, what sort of projects are you look­ing for and what sort of film­mak­ers are you look­ing to shep­herd?

Af­fleck: Whi­taker [Lader], who runs the com­pany, does all the good work and then I kind of make some noise on the side­lines too. We’re try­ing to find peo­ple who can tell sto­ries that we don’t usu­ally see in main­stream pop cul­ture, movies, me­dia, Hol­ly­wood, with sto­ry­tellers who need a hand.

Ac­tor Casey Af­fleck is pro­mot­ing his up­com­ing film, The Old Man & The Gun, in the­atres Sept. 28.

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