"Manchester by the Sea" director Kenneth Lonergan has come to the defense of his film's Oscar-winning star, Casey Affleck, saying the actor has been "treated abominably" in the wake of the Hollywood's prevalent #MeToo movement.
In a recent interview with Variety, Lonergan said that Hollywood's hasty reactions to the sexual assault allegations that were made against Affleck were "unfair."
“I couldn’t be more all for the #MeToo movement and I couldn’t feel more strongly that he’s been treated abominably,” Lonergan said. “It’s not good for anybody.”
The director added, “People really don’t know what they are talking about, I’m afraid. And I’m afraid they are doing it in the name of a very good cause.”
The claims of sexual misconduct against Affleck occurred back in 2010 when two women who worked on the set of his film "I'm Still Here" accused the actor of sexual harassment. The actor denied the accusations and the lawsuits against him were settled out of court. But during Affleck's 2017 Oscar spotlight, after the actor won the Best Actor award, many women spoke out against the 42-year-old actor and said that actor shouldn't have won the award or have been nominated.
But the Variety article isn't the first time Lonergan has come to Affleck's defense.
Last April, Connor Aberle, a student Lonergan's alma mater, Wesleyan University, wrote an op-ed piece for the school newspaper that arugued the university was also to blame for Affleck’s success by “endorsing” Lonergan’s Oscar win for Best Screenplay, despite the actor's prior history of sexual harassment lawsuits.
Aberle wrote, "Wesleyan University has an obligation to reject sexual violence of all kinds. Therefore, it cannot claim credit for Lonergan’s success without also recognizing his role in promoting Casey Affleck’s career. Wesleyan must either be cautious in its alumni praise, or it must admit to its students that it cares only about building the Wesleyan University brand rather than social justice or the well-being of the Wesleyan community.”
In response to the college student's open letter, the director released his own statement defending himself and Affleck, saying that the Wesleyan student “wr[ote] as if Casey Affleck were actually guilty of a crime." He continued on to explain Affleck's alleged crimes and said, "Like most civil suits, this one was settled out of court by mutual consent on undisclosed terms … In other words, nothing was proved or disproved. So how does Mr. Aberle dare to write as if he knows who was telling the truth and who was not?”
Following his 2017 Oscar win, Affleck opened up to the Boston Globe about the sexual misconduct allegations surrounding him and said, "I believe that any kind of mistreatment of anyone for any reason is unacceptable and abhorrent, and everyone deserves to be treated with respect in the workplace and anywhere else.”
The actor then added, “There’s really nothing I can do about it. Other than live my life the way I know to live it and to speak to what my own values are and how I try to live by them all the time.”
At the 2018 Academy Awards, Affleck opted out of the award show tradition of the previous year's Best Actor presenting the award to the current year's Best Actress.
With the flux #MeToo- and Time's Up-inspired moments during the 2018 award season, a source told Deadline in January, it "was in a no-win situation with all the attention surrounding the #MeToo movement. The specter of [the actor] presenting would have created controversy."