Morgan Freeman vehemently defended his behavior with women on movie sets and in the work-space of his production company, Revelations Entertainment, saying that the comments he purportedly made in jest have come back to haunt him as instances of harassment.
The Oscar-winning actor was accused of harassment and inappropriate behavior by eight women in a report published by CNN this past Thursday, with young production assistants and work interns claiming that Freeman often passed vulgar comments on sets while the atmosphere at his office was "toxic" for female employees.
Freeman had initially responded to the accusations with a short statement, claiming "anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy" but now, having had the time to reflect on the repercussions of his actions, he has released a more detailed defense, which claims that he has never assaulted any woman sexually.
"I am devastated that 80 years of my life is at risk of being undermined, in the blink of an eye, by Thursday's media reports."Freeman added that he attempted to "joke with and compliment women" because he wanted to make them comfortable around him, according to New York Daily News.
"All the victims of sexual assault and harassment deserve to be heard. And we need to listen to them. But it is not right to equate horrific incidents of sexual assault with misplaced compliments or humor."
"Clearly I was not always coming across the way I intended. And that is why I apologized Thursday and continue to apologize to anyone I might have upset, however unintentionally."But if anything, Morgan Freeman's behavior isolated women to the point where they became scared of him. Some even claimed that they didn't dress in tight clothes or exposed their cleavage because it would attract Freeman's attention. One woman who worked with him on the sets of Going in Style said that her experience of working with Freeman forced her to quit the movie industry for good.
"But I also want to be clear: I did not create unsafe work environments. I did not assault women. I did not offer employment or advancement in exchange for sex. Any suggestion that I did so is completely false."
Another woman who worked as a manager at Revelations claimed that Freeman would stare at her for long periods, making her uncomfortable. Sometimes he would do so and then burst into laughter with the other men.
Some of the women have claimed that Freeman's co-partner at Revelations, Lori McCreary, knew about his behavior around women, but never spoke about it publicly. Other people alleged that Lori McCreary was herself at the receiving end of Freeman's implicit misogyny. At one instance, he reportedly made fun of McCreary at a public event, making her "embarrassed" and teary-eyed.
Morgan Freeman's name is only the latest to be added to a slew of allegations made against powerful men in Hollywood, where it seems, owing to their authority, these men often end up exploiting the work culture/dynamic to their benefit. One young PA who witnessed Freeman making inappropriate comments on the sets of The Dark Knight summed it up perfectly when she spoke about his behavior.
"Morgan did things in a way that an older more established person can get away with because they have that power," she told CNN. "They can't be replaced, but you can be replaced very easily, that's just kind of the dynamic on set. PA's can be replaced, grips can be replaced, electricians can be replaced, but the actors -- once they're in, they're in."