Casey Affleck just gave his first major interview since not appearing as a presenter at the Oscars this year to the Associated Press, which is exactly the kind of move you make when you want to get back into America’s good graces without really doing any work.
Affleck addresses allegations of harassment made against him in the interview, but not without explaining his silence in the press so far. He tells the AP’s Lindsey Bahr, “If I’m not promoting a movie, I’m not going to do any press, so that’s why you haven’t heard from me.”
About deciding not to present at this year’s Oscars, Affleck said:
I think it was the right thing to do just given everything that was going on in our culture at the moment. And having two incredible women go present the best actress award felt like the right thing.
About those lawsuits he settled in 2010, in which he was accused of sexual harassment on the set of his mock-umentary I’m Still Here, he said:
First of all, that I was ever involved in a conflict that resulted in a lawsuit is something that I really regret. I wish I had found a way to resolve things in a different way. I hate that. I had never had any complaints like that made about me before in my life and it was really embarrassing and I didn’t know how to handle it and I didn’t agree with everything, the way I was being described, and the things that were said about me, but I wanted to try to make it right, so we made it right in the way that was asked at the time. And we all agreed to just try to put it behind us and move on with our lives, which I think we deserve to do, and I want to respect them as they’ve respected me and my privacy. And that’s that.
He’s really sorry about it:
And I contributed to that unprofessional environment and I tolerated that kind of behavior from other people and I wish that I hadn’t. And I regret a lot of that. I really did not know what I was responsible for as the boss. I don’t even know if I thought of myself as the boss. But I behaved in a way and allowed others to behave in a way that was really unprofessional. And I’m sorry.
In the interview he’s given room to talk as much as he wants about how much he’s been “listening” and “learning” while he’s been out of the spotlight, and he’s left unchallenged. The AP is a dependable, hardy news outlet, but it is not known for holding disgraced figures in Hollywood accountable for their actions, and this kind of easy interview is exactly what will lay the groundwork for Affleck’s inevitable comeback, which he seems like he intends to make. (The interview is bookended by talking about the movies and future projects he’s been working on.)
If he comes across as measured and thoughtful and open to change, it’s by design. The real question is whether Affleck can change his behavior towards his colleagues going forward, and what he asks of the public and the entertainment industry when he tries to make another movie. If they don’t hand it over so easily, how long will he stay committed to “listening” and “learning”?