After what seemed like a calm, the Me Too movement proves itself an ongoing storm for Hollywood elites harboring closeted skeletons. In what is becoming typical fashion, the career of yet another movie icon appears to have ended overnight.
Still fresh in the minds of many, jarring accusations implicating veteran actor Morgan Freeman of sexual harassment by 16 people surfaced yesterday, shocking fans across the world. These statements detail the 80-year-old actor’s proclivities to making unwanted sexual contact and advances toward women on film sets and during interviews. A representative for the Screen Actor’s Guild, or SAG, has suggested to the Hollywood Reporter that Freeman’s Lifetime Achievement Award may be rescinded.
“Any accused person has the right to due process, but it is our starting point to believe the courageous voices who come forward to report incidents of harassment. Given Mr. Freeman recently received one of our union’s most prestigious honors recognizing his body of work. We are therefore reviewing what corrective actions may be warranted at this time,” the SAG-AFTRA spokesperson stated.
In a statement to the Hollywood Reporter yesterday, Freeman appears to deny the accusations. The potential revocation of such a prestigious award exemplifies the implications of sexual harassment accusations for even the mightiest of the entertainment industry.
Morgan Freeman joins the ranks of numerous actors and filmmakers standing accused of sexual harassment, assault, or rape, including titans like Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, and Kevin Spacey. Bill Cosby was convicted in a court of law last month on three counts of sexual assault, while today Harvey Weinstein was formally arrested on charges including rape.
While Hollywood continues cleaning house, there are differing reactions to the Me Too movement, particularly to the finality of the accusations and the rapidity at which careers seem to be over for those standing accused.
On May 23, GQ posted an interview with comedian Sarah Silverman where she discusses her relationship with the recently shamed Louis C.K., whose television series was canceled and an upcoming film release was dropped from distribution amid numerous accusations of sexual misconduct—C.K. later confirmed the accusations, expressing regret. Sarah Silverman opined to GQ that artists like Louis should still be allowed to create art. Stand-up comedy legend Dave Chappelle also expressed similar sympathy for Louis C.K. in a Netflix special. Yesterday Rebecca Corry, one of C.K.’s accusers, penned an op-ed for Vulture expressing disdain at the idea of a comeback, even taking Dave Chappelle to task for what she perceived as his downplaying of the incident.
Other critics claiming unfair fallout for the accused include actors Liam Neeson and Matt Damon, and Oscar-nominated filmmaker Michael Haneke (Amour, Funny Games). But such responses are uncommon, as the overwhelming majority of the film industry stands in solidarity with the victims defining Me Too. With the exception of President Donald Trump, accusations of this caliber seem to be a definitive ending to every career in question, and for celebrities of all types.
Given recent history, it seems likely Morgan Freeman’s SAG Lifetime Achievement award is only the first of many accolades and honors that may be revoked in coming days.