CNN has published an extensive report detailing accusations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior against 80-year-old actor Morgan Freeman. In all, the reporters spoke with 16 women—eight victims and witnesses.
One woman, a production assistant on the 2015 film Going In Style, claims Freeman “subjected her to unwanted touching and comments about her figure and clothing on a near-daily basis,” adding that the actor frequently tried to lift up her skirt and find out whether or not she was wearing underwear.
A member of the production staff on 2012's Now You See Me shared a similar story of sexual harassment, saying, “We knew that if he was coming by ... not to wear any top that would show our breasts, not to wear anything that would show our bottoms...”
At the time, none of the accusers reported Freeman’s behavior, something many of them explained by sharing a sentiment that’s become all too common among victims of harassment by powerful men: “they feared for their jobs.” The report also details an instance of Freeman’s Revelations Entertainment co-founder, Lori McReary, witnessing the actor’s inappropriate behavior firsthand. McReary herself was also accused of making “a discriminatory remark regarding a female candidate for a job at the Producers Guild of America, where McCreary is co-president.”
CNN’s bombshell report, written by An Phung and Chloe Melas, can be read in full here, but I’ll leave you with what is perhaps its most jarring and uncomfortable revelation—an instance in which the journalist becomes part of the story. “Three entertainment reporters who spoke to CNN said Freeman made inappropriate remarks to them during press junkets.” One of those three was Melas herself.
According to Melas, who was six months pregnant at the time, Freeman, in a room full of people, including his co-stars Arkin and Caine, shook Melas’ hand [during a press junket in 2015], not letting go while repeatedly looking her up and down and saying more than once a variation of, “I wish I was there.” She says he also said to her, “You are ripe.” Cameras were on and recording during one of Freeman’s remarks to Melas — “Boy, do I wish I was there” — but not for the rest.
It’s that encounter that led Melas to begin researching this piece. “She soon learned that other women had similar stories—and so she, and later her co-author, began this months-long reporting process.” And now here we are, again.
Update (2:50 p.m.)
Morgan Freeman has released the following statement to IndieWire:
“Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy...I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected—that was never my intent.”