Actor Casey Affleck, who has previously been accused of sexual harassment, has withdrawn from presenting the Oscar for Best Actress at this year’s ceremony, Deadline reported.
Affleck won the best actor Oscar last year for his performance as a grief-stricken father in Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea. He was expected to present this year’s best actress award in keeping with Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences tradition that the Best Actor winner of the previous year presents the Best Actress trophy. However, Affleck’s publicist confirmed that the actor will not be attending this year’s ceremony.
Affleck was sued in 2010 by his former colleagues Amanda White and Magdalena Gorka, who alleged that he had sexually harassed them on the set of his mockumentary I’m Still Here. White had claimed that the actor instructed another crew member to flash his penis at her, while Gorka said that she once woke up in the middle of the night to find Affleck in bed with her. Both lawsuits were settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.
The Deadline report says that Affleck made the “proactive move” to withdraw as presenter from the Oscar’s ceremony this year because he “did not want to become a distraction from the focus that should be on the performances of the actresses in the category”. The actor’s decision comes in the wake of the Me Too movement, which began after several prominent Hollywood figures such as Harvey Weinstein, Brett Ratner and Kevin Spacey were accused of sexual harassment.
The 2010 allegations against the actor had resurfaced after he won the Academy Award for Best Actor last year. His award was presented by Brie Larson, who has been an advocate for sexual abuse victims. Larson handed the award to Affleck without clapping. “I think that whatever it was that I did onstage kind of spoke for itself,” she later told Vanity Fair about her stance on Affleck’s win.
Meanwhile, actor James Franco was scrubbed from Vanity Fair’s cover story 12 Extraordinary Stars, One Momentous Year. He sat for an interview and photo shoot, but was removed from the magazine’s Annie Leibovitz-shot portfolio due to allegations of sexual misconduct against him. In a Los Angeles Times report published on January 11, Franco was accused by five women “of behavior they found to be inappropriate or sexually exploitative”.
Franco has not been nominated in the best actor category at the Oscars for his performance in The Disaster Artist, which he also directed.
“We made a decision not to include James Franco on the Hollywood cover once we learned of the misconduct allegations against him,” a Vanity Fair spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter.