Image Source: Getty / Laura Cavanaugh
Casey Affleck is currently riding high on the award season success of his latest 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 Casey, 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.
Casey and other male crew members 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 Casey 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, Amanda signed on to be a producer of the doc after having worked with Casey 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 Casey 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 Amanda’s accusations about his lewd behavior, she claimed that Casey physically threatened her more than once. After rebuffing his request to share a hotel room with him one night, she said he grabbed her in "a hostile manner" to try to manipulate her into submitting to his demands. When she still said no, he allegedly called her a variety of "profane names" via text message. Amanda further alleged that while shooting the documentary in Costa Rica one night, she wasn’t able to return to her bedroom because Casey and Joaquin – the brother of Casey’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, she filed a $2 million lawsuit against the actor in Los Angeles Superior Court.
While still working as a producer, Amanda was instructed with renegotiating a contract with Magdalena, the film’s director of photography, who’d left production early on because of her own alleged negative experiences with Casey. Magdalena 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, Casey 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 (Casey’s close friend). Magdalena hoped that things would get better as production wore on, but she alleged that Casey’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 Joaquin. Instead of putting the crew up in a hotel, Casey and Joaquin decided to have them stay overnight in their apartment. Magdalena claimed that Joaquin 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 Casey 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 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." He "left and slammed the door in anger." The next morning, Magdalena flew back to LA, told her agent what allegedly happened, and quit I’m Still Here.
After going a few weeks without work, Amanda convinced Magdalena 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, Magdalena 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 resulted in Casey refusing to give her the "director of photography" credit on the film as retaliation. One week after Amanda filed her lawsuit in 2010, Magdalena filed a $2.25 million suit of her own against Casey in LA Superior Court, citing the "humiliation, embarrassment, and emotional distress as a direct result of the harassment and abuse she endured during production." Amanda was also denied the payment of her producer’s fee ($50,000) after complaining about Casey’s behavior and claimed 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. Casey initially denied the allegations and briefly threatened to countersue but eventually settled both suits out of court through mediation.
The Golden Globe Awards air on Sunday, which kicks off a long line of appearances from the actor thanks to the multiple award shows that will take place in January and February. Unlike Nate Parker and Bill Cosby before him (both of whose alleged crimes are different and more serious, it’s important to note), Casey has been raking in accolade after accolade rather than career-ending blows to his reputation. Much like a former reality star who was elected into the highest office our country has to offer after bragging about his preferred methods of sexual assault and a high-profile actor involved in a domestic violence dispute, it doesn’t look like Casey is going to be tried in the court of public opinion for his alleged actions. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Over the next few months, Hollywood will likely not only stand by him but also celebrate him.