Back in 2008, Casey Affleck teamed with his then-brother-in-law Joaquin Phoenix to film the experimental mockumentary I’m Still Here.
The film was controversial at the time of its release due to Phoenix’s Andy Kaufman-like immersion in his role, which culminated in a notorious David Letterman interview that left many convinced the actor was suffering some sort of mental collapse.
Many predicted that Here would do irreparable damage to both Affleck’s career, and now it’s beginning to look as though that may be the case – but for reasons that have nothing to do with the failure of the movie.
Currently, Affleck is enjoying a wealth of awards season buzz for his performance in Manchester By the Sea, and he’s currently considered in Best Actor Oscar race.
Unfortunately for Affleck, the increased media attention generated by his awards push has brought with it some renewed interest in a some disturbing allegations from his past.
In 2010, two women who worked on Here came forward to accuse Affleck of multiple acts of sexual harassment.
Producer Amanda White and cinematographer Magdalena Gorka sued Affleck for $2 million and $2.25 million respectively, claiming that Affleck verbally and physically harassed them during their time working on the film.
White alleged that Affleck often boasted to her about his “sexual exploits,” and at one point instructed another crewmember to show her his penis, despite her objections.
She also claimed that Affleck tried to get her to stay in a hotel room with him, and that when she refused, he “grabbed her in a hostile manner in an effort to intimidate her into complying.”
Gorka made similar allegations and claimed that Affleck once climbed into a bed she was sleeping in and proceeded to “caress her back,” adding that “his face was within inches of hers and his breath reeked of alcohol.”
Gorka described her encounters with Affleck as “the most traumatizing of her career.”
Affleck was married to Phoenix’s sister Summer at the time of the alleged incidents.
Shortly after White and Gorka filed their suits, Affleck publicly denied the allegations and threatened to countersue.
He later settled both cases out of court for an undisclosed sum.
Affleck’s situation is drawing comparisons to that of Nate Parker, the star and director of Birth of a Nation, who was also the subject of critical acclaim and awards buzz until the revelation that he was accused of a brutal gang rape by a woman who later committed suicide.
Obviously, the allegations against Parker are far more disturbing (he was acquitted at trial, but his co-defendant served several years behind bars), but many still feel that Affleck is benefiting from a double standard.
Parker, a black man, found himself at the center of a firestorm of criticism and negative press coverage, while Affleck has scarcely forced to answer for the charges against him.
Parker’s name was quickly dropped from all conversations about awards season contenders, and his film quietly came and went from theaters.
Audiences and the industry will likely be much more kind to Affleck.
The younger brother of Ben Affleck has already taken home acting prizes from the Gotham Awards and the National Board of Review, both of which are considered early Oscar predictors.