'Enough is enough' - Casey Affleck opens up in the wake of #MeToo

Casey Affleck has been mostly absent from the public eye for the past year, but in the wake of the #MeToo and Time's Up movements and with a new film coming out this fall, he is for the first time addressing lingering questions about earlier harassment allegations.

The 42-year-old actor, producer and director is taking responsibility for the "unprofessional" atmosphere on the set of 2010's "I'm Still Here" that led to civil lawsuits from two women who worked on the film.

He also spoke to The Associated Press about what he's learned from the #MeToo conversation and what he's doing at his production company to bring new voices into Hollywood.

During Affleck's best actor campaign for "Manchester By the Sea" in 2016, the spotlight was turned back on the civil lawsuits filed by a cinematographer and a producer who worked on "I'm Still Here" for breach of contract.

One of the women also sued for sexual harassment, and both described an uncomfortable atmosphere on the set of the unconventional mockumentary.

"It was an unprofessional environment ... the buck had to stop with me being one of the producers and I have to accept responsibility for that," Affleck told the AP of the making of "I'm Still Here," which he produced and directed.

"I contributed to that unprofessional environment and I tolerated that kind of behavior from other people and I wish that I hadn't."

He added: "I behaved in a way and allowed others to behave in a way that was really unprofessional. And I'm sorry."

Although the lawsuits were settled out of court, Affleck's name in 2016 and 2017 became associated with a long list of men who have abused power in Hollywood.

While Affleck has addressed the lawsuits, including in an AP interview from July 2017 , he also has not spoken publicly since #MeToo and Time's Up overtook the culture ten months ago.

In that time, Affleck also opted out of presenting the best actress award at the Oscars — traditionally the responsibility of the previous year's best actor winner.

Instead, Jodie Foster and Jennifer Lawrence handed the trophy to Frances McDormand.

"I think it was the right thing to do just given everything that was going on in our culture at the moment," Affleck said.

"And having two incredible women go present the best actress award felt like the right thing"

Affleck said he's been learning a lot in the past few years listening to the conversation and has moved away from a place of defensiveness to one of finding his own culpability.

"I think bigger picture, in this business women have been underrepresented and underpaid and objectified and diminished and humiliated and belittled in a bazillion ways and just generally had a mountain of grief thrown at them forever. And no one was really making too much of a fuss about it, myself included, until a few women with the kind of courage and wisdom to stand up and say, 'You know what? Enough is enough,'" Affleck said.

"Those are the people who are kind of leading this conversation and should be leading the conversation. And I know just enough to know that in general I need to keep my mouth shut and listen and try to figure out what's going on and be a supporter and a follower in the little, teeny tiny ways that I can."

Of his decision to do an interview now, Affleck said, "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."

He's also taking these lessons both to work and home to his two sons, who are ages 14 and 10.

"I want to be in a world where grown men model compassion and decency and also contrition when it's called for, and I certainly tell (my sons) to own their mistakes when they make them," he said.

Over the past year, Affleck has been spending time with his kids and girlfriend, and hard at work on various projects, including "The Old Man & The Gun," a kind-hearted film where he plays a cop trying to track down an older bank robber, played by Robert Redford.

He also has directed a film, "Light of My Life," a father-daughter story co-starring Elisabeth Moss which he said some people will see soon.

"The Old Man & the Gun," his third collaboration with director David Lowery, will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival before opening in theaters on Sept. 28.

"(Lowery) always assembles a really nice group of people around him," Affleck said.

"It sort of makes its way into the movie. It's such a nice experience to watch one of his movies."

At his production company, Sea Change Media, he said he and his development partner Whitaker Lader are looking to shepherd filmmakers with stories that aren't well-represented in Hollywood.

"It's nice to be able to take the teeny tiny bit of experience that she and I have and use it to help other people get started," Affleck said.

"There's really no better feeling than that."

In this Aug. 3, 2018 photo, actor Casey Affleck poses for a portrait at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles to promote his upcoming film "The Old Man & The Gun," in theaters on Sept. 28. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
In this Aug. 3, 2018 photo, actor Casey Affleck poses for a portrait at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles to promote his upcoming film "The Old Man & The Gun," in theaters on Sept. 28. Source: Associated Press

Watch: Mike Hosking and Susan Wood front Breakfast’s first episode in 1997 as TVNZ1 show celebrates 21st birthday - one day early

TVNZ1's Breakfast turns 21 on Saturday (August 11).

Seeing there's no show tomorrow the Breakfast team thought they'd celebrate today.

Here's a look back into the Breakfast archive 21-years-ago when Mike Hosking and Susan Wood hosted the first show.

On August 11, the TVNZ show celebrates its twenty-first birthday. Source: Breakfast


'They have already paid enough' - calls for no fees for sexual abuse survivors who want their automatic name suppression lifted

Brodie Joyce said she was sexually abused by her ex-stepfather for 11 years.

“I can’t remember the first instance where it happened. I just remember it like gradually building up. And then there was a period of three years when it was intense like basically every day and that was when I was like 13 to 16," she said.

“I was brought home and home-schooled. He worked from home as well, so it was like 24/7 access and that’s what he wanted anyway."

At 21, Brodie said it got to a point where she didn’t want to put up with it anymore, reporting the abuse to Wellington police. 

Her abuser pleaded guilty to charges of abuse from over several years and was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison.

“I knew that what I experienced had galvanised me into being a certain person and that I want to do something with what I've experienced and help other people. And it’s just made me realise that’s what I want to do with my life,” she said.

She has set up an advocacy service, Fight Sexual Abuse New Zealand, which pairs sexual abuse survivors with advocates that have experienced abuse for support.

“I just had the idea of if people can disclose then they can talk to someone who's been through similar circumstances and talk like friends then that could help them talk about the abuse which is really healing,” she said.

It’s hoped the advocates will be able to help the disclosers on their path to getting support, whether that’s through counselling, police or other support agencies.

Making it harder to be able to talk about it if that’s what they want to do is just prolonging that silence - Brodie Joyce

To share her story, Brodie had to get a ruling to lift her automatic name suppression. It’s a statutory prohibition for sexual abuse complainants that’s given to thousands of people in New Zealand every year. It was introduced to protect them.

“I understand some people they want to keep it quiet 'cause it’s their experience and that’s obviously 100 per cent fine. If my name suppression wasn’t lifted I probably wouldn’t be in a good place.”

But the process requires legal fees. Brodie was first quoted up to $4000, but negotiated the fee to be lower due to her advocacy work.

“People who've experienced sexual abuse, they are silenced during that abuse, you know, like if it's historical, and making it harder to be able to talk about it if that’s what they want to do is just prolonging that silence even more,” she said.

She’s calling for the process to be free, and for victim support to communicate to survivors they have a choice over their name suppression some months after the trial or sentencing.

They have already paid enough, it should not cost them financially to have the name suppression lifted - Auckland HELP executive director Kathryn McPhillips

Auckland HELP executive director Kathryn McPhillips agrees, saying it’s “outrageous” sexual abuse survivors have to pay to have their name suppression lifted.

“They have already paid enough, it should not cost them financially to have the name suppression lifted,” Ms McPhillips said.

Ms McPhillips said society is in a time of transition with more people wanting to have their name suppression lifted.

“The current process really assumes that most people would want that name suppression to stay in place forever.”

Lawyer Nikki Pender said over the last few years, more sexual abuse survivors have consulted her, asking how they can get their name suppression lifted.

“It is a very profound moment for many of them but is a very important time and the difficulty now is getting a process that works for them comfortably,” she said.

Ms Pender said court victim advisers should be given more responsibility, and could replace the need for lawyers in non-contentious suppression removal cases.

“When you do need legal counsel, when it is objected to for example, legal aid should simply be available,” she said.

Ms Pender said the Government could remove the cost through an amendment of the Legal Service Act.

Justice Minister Andrew Little said he wants to investigate all possible options.

“We need to find a way to do that and it shouldn’t be a barrier to somebody who wants that simple procedural step taken,” he said.

Mr Little said the Government could “do a lot better” with its support of sexual abuse complainants in court.

“There is a need to professionalise victim support for victims of serious crime so they’ve got court advocacy right throughout the process. And when they do get to the point where they wanted to lift suppression, name suppression of themselves, that they can do that easily and effectively,” he said.

Where to get help:

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.
Lifeline: 0800 543 354
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.
Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7)
Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz
What's Up: online chat (7pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 children's helpline (1pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-10pm weekends)
Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)
Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254
Healthline: 0800 611 116
Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

For some survivors, being able to speak publicly about their abuse is a very important part of their healing process. Source: 1 NEWS