Casey Affleck has reportedly withdrawn from the upcoming Academy Awards, where, as last year’s Best Actor winner, he was set to present the Oscar for Best Actress, as per tradition. According to Deadline, the actor told the Academy that not only will he not be presenting any awards at the 2018 Oscars, but he has also declined his invitation to the entire ceremony. “Affleck did not want to become a distraction from the focus that should be on the performances of the actresses in the category,” a source told the publication.
Affleck’s withdrawal from this year’s awards show comes amid criticism that he, an accused sexual harasser, would be allowed to present such an important statuette. In 2010, while directing I’m Still Here, a mockumentary starring Joaquin Phoenix, Affleck was sued by two female employees who claimed that he “led and fostered an environment of sexual harassment on set.” One of the women also claimed that Affleck climbed into bed with her one night and touched her without her consent. At the 2017 Oscars, Affleck won Best Actor for his performance in Manchester by the Sea. (Brie Larson, who presented the award after winning Best Actress in 2016 for her role as a victim of sexual assault in Room, notably did not clap for the actor.)
With the subsequent rise of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements in recent months, it seems Affleck would rather avoid the public scrutiny altogether at this year’s Oscars (where he isn’t nominated for any awards) than face the certain backlash he would receive for presenting such a prestigious award to a woman. Celebrities have been supporting Time’s Up during awards season by wearing pins and dressing in all black on red carpets. At this weekend’s Grammys, musicians will wear white roses to demonstrate support for sexual assault victims. There have not yet been any plans announced for a demonstration on the Oscars red carpet.
Recently, James Franco, who was accused by five women for sexual misconduct following a win at the 2018 Golden Globes for The Disaster Artist—he was snubbed in this year’s Oscar noms—skipped the Critics’ Choice Awards. And Aziz Ansari, who was accused of sexual misconduct, skipped the Screen Actors Guild Awards, despite being a nominee. Ansari had also won at this year’s Globes for Best Actor in a Comedy.