Stephen Colbert Presses Ben Affleck on Hollywood Harassment, His Own Behavior
"I'm not a spokesman. I'm not a superhero. I can't change it by myself. I can just be accountable for myself and for my actions," said the actor.
Oscar winner Ben Affleck dropped by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Thursday night to promote his new film, Justice League. During the interview — his first late-night visit with Colbert — the actor/director also addressed the sexual harassment scandals that have been rocking Hollywood for the last two months and how the climate has forced him to look inward.
"I thought I had a sense of the scope of the problem and I thought I understood it and the truth is, I really didn't," Affleck said. "I didn't understand what it was like to be groped, to be harassed, to be interrupted, talked over, paid less, pushed around, belittled. All the things that women deal with that for me, as a man, I had the privilege of not having to deal with. And part of this for me has been listening to people I really care about and love as they tell me stories of stuff that has happened to them — this is men and women — and recognizing that it's a real thing."
He added, "I'm not a spokesman. I'm not a superhero. I can't change it by myself. I can just be accountable for myself and for my actions."
Affleck, who won his first Oscar for best screenplay along with co-writer and co-star in 1998 for Good Will Hunting, was asked by the host about his relationship with disgraced Hollywood mogul and Good Will Hunting producer, Harvey Weinstein. At first mention of Weinstein — whose former company, Miramax, produced the film — Affleck quipped to Colbert, "This is a comedy show right?"
But Colbert pressed on.
“Because you had such a close association with him at the beginning of your career, did you feel you had to do something more than simply just distance yourself from Harvey Weinstein? Because everybody ran for the exits,” Colbert asked the star of his reaction to Weinstein's downfall.
“Yes, and understandably so," Affleck replied. "For me, it was awful to see the extent of these terrible crimes and it was hideous. I haven't worked for Harvey in more than 15 years but nonetheless, I felt this attachment to movies like Good Will Hunting and Chasing Amy and Shakespeare in Love, and some of the early movies I loved doing when I was still totally brand new."
He continued, "It sort of tainted that a little bit, to realize while we were having these experiences and making these movies, there were people that were suffering and dealing with awful experiences. I didn’t really know what to do with that, it's hard to know, but I decided to give back the residuals that I'm getting from the Miramax movies and give them to RAINN and Film Independent, just because I didn't want to cash a check from the guy.”
Colbert went on to ask Affleck about sexual harassment allegations brought against himself, a resurfaced claim about Affleck that came in the wake of Weinstein. The star was accused of groping by actress Hilarie Burton while the two were on MTV's TRL in 2003.
"What I was accused of by a woman was touching her breast while I gave her a hug. I don’t remember it but I absolutely apologize for it. I certainly don't think she's lying or making it up," Affleck told Colbert. Speaking of sexual harassment in Hollywood and beyond, more generally, he said men have to be mindful of their behavior, hold themselves accountable and be part of the solution.
He even referenced an interview he did earlier in the week with MTV while promoting Justice League, one in which he received backlash over an ill-timed joke that appeared to link the lack of women in the film to Hollywood's sexual misconduct scandal. "It was a serious question and I kind of felt uncomfortable and didn't know what to say and laughed awkwardly — it's just a tricky thing to try to handle," he said. "I think the most important thing to do is support the voices that are coming forward, believe them and create a business where more women are empowered and in place so less of this happens and so there is a way of reporting this stuff that people can feel safe doing."
During a Friday morning appearance on Today, Affleck also addressed a claim from alleged Weinstein victim Rose McGowan that the actor knew of the disgraced mogul's alleged misconduct. "I believe Rose. I support her," he said.
When talking about Affleck's highly anticipated superhero film, Justice League, Colbert also resurfaced an old tweet from President Donald Trump. Though the first team-up of DC's World's Greatest Superheroes is launching amid a slew of underwhelming reviews from critics, Trump has long put his faith behind Affleck's Batman. "Everyone should calm down. Ben Affleck is going to do a great job as Batman," Trump tweeted after Affleck's announcement as the superhero in September of 2013.
Affleck also revealed that he stole one thing from the set: One of Batman's Batarangs. Of the bat-shaped weapon, Affleck said, "They kept track of the Batmobile, but there were some other stuff that fell off the truck. They sent me a bill for it. It turns out, Batarangs aren't cheap!"
Justice League is in theaters this weekend.