With the #MeToo movement playing a huge part in awards season — pointedly, all the presenters at this year’s SAG Awards were women, and most attendees at the 2018 Golden Globes wore all black to raise awareness for the Time’s Up movement — the Oscars faced a dilemma: Casey Affleck was in line to present an award to a woman. Per Oscars tradition, the winner of the previous year’s Best Actor award hands out the trophy for the current year’s Best Actress, and Affleck is the Oscar’s reigning Best Actor for his performance in Manchester by the Sea. Given that Affleck is the subject of a series of troubling accusations of sexual harassment that predate the #MeToo movement, the situation would’ve felt uncomfortable and even inappropriate. But Affleck’s saving everyone the trouble: The actor will not be attending this year’s Oscars, according to Deadline.
A source told Deadline on Thursday that Affleck was withdrawing as a presenter because he “did not want to become a distraction from the focus that should be on the performances of the actresses in the category.”
Affleck’s sexual harassment allegations resurfaced last year during the Oscar campaign for Manchester by the Sea. In 2010, two women working on the Affleck-directed mockumentary I’m Still Here, which began filming in early 2009, filed civil suits against the actor. The lawsuits, which were eventually settled out of court, detailed accounts of Affleck’s abusive conduct, ranging from unprofessional workplace behavior to physical intimidation.
While clarifying that both parties are prohibited from commenting on the lawsuit, Affleck told the Boston Globe in 2017, “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.” He also added: “There’s really nothing I can do about it, other than live my life the way I know I live it and to speak to what my own values are and how I try to live by them all the time.”
It has not yet been announced who will assume Affleck’s presenting spot at the March 4 Oscars.