Often referred to as the ‘younger Affleck brother’, Casey Affleck has spent many years attempting to rise to stardom. While he has starred in a wide range of roles that has gained him criticism over the years such as his part in Gone Baby Gone and the role that gained him an Academy Award Nomination The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, he still seems to stay out of the spotlight unlike his brother, who now reigns over Gotham City.
Nevertheless, Casey Affleck was still determined to take on a passion project of his own. After completing several great roles, Affleck made the decision to focus his energy on an experimental documentary that he hoped would be a success. The film was about his brother-in-law, Joaquin Phoenix. The unusual idea blossomed into an infamous project known as 2010’s I’m Still Here.
In the documentary, turned mockumentary, turned cautionary tale, Affleck chronicled Phoenix’s fake evolution from leading man to an aspiring rapper, complete with various notorious TV interviews and the general appearance of personal and professional implosion.
The critics reacted to the film in various ways, some with apathy, others with confusion and many with anger. One writer declared that “The worst thing about I’m Still Here is the fact that it exists.” Even Ben Affleck admitted that his brother may have made a mistake with that one, noting, “I thought it was a really smart, creative thing that nobody else had thought of. But he did it at the expense of his acting career.”
As anyone could imagine, it can be difficult to be the younger brother of one of the world’s biggest movie stars, and try to work on your own personal acting career at the same time. But Casey has managed to emerge as a frontrunner for the Best Actor Oscar thanks to his work in Manchester by the Sea. The film is a 41-year old’s biography which has been reworked to fit this winning narrative. In the film, Affleck plays a man whose life has been upended by a tragic event. It’s the sort of dark, emotionally exhausting performance that finds actors showered with multiple awards and nominations.
Casey Affleck’s Alleged Crimes
Unfortunately, all that hard work may have been for nothing in terms of winning an Oscar if the Academy takes Affleck’s alleged crimes into consideration.
In December of 2008, Amanda White agreed to serve as a producer on the untitled documentary that was headed by Affleck and Flemmy Productions, which ultimately became I’m Still Here. White had 10 years of experience working with Affleck, and over the course of filming, she alleged in the complaint that she was repeatedly harassed.
On one occasion, she claimed that Affleck ordered a crew member to take off his pants and show White his penis, even after she vehemently objected. She claimed that Affleck repeatedly referred to women as “cows” and recounted his sexual exploits with reckless abandon. In her complaint, White recalled Affleck asking her “Isn’t it about time you get pregnant?” once he learned her age, and suggesting that she and a male crew member reproduce.
White’s accusations continued on ranging from unprofessional behavior to actual physical intimidation. There was one instance when she was prevented from returning to her bedroom during shooting. That was because Affleck and Phoenix had locked themselves inside with two women they were having sex with. (Affleck was married with two children to Phoenix’s sister, Summer, at the time—though the couple recently split).
She also alleged that Affleck attempted to manipulate her into sharing a hotel room with him. When she resisted, White claimed, he grabbed her threateningly and attempted to scare her into submission. Affleck then allegedly proceeded to send White abusive text messages, calling her “profane names” for refusing to stay with him. White filed a $2 million lawsuit against Affleck in Los Angeles Superior Court on July 23, 2010.
As part of her producer duties, White was also asked to renegotiate an agreement with Magdalena Gorka, the film’s director of photography. Gorka had previously left the project due to an alleged similar pattern of harassment. In her complaint, Gorka described her treatment at the hands of Casey Affleck as “the most traumatizing of her career.”
On the assumption that Affleck’s behavior wouldn’t—or couldn’t—get worse, Gorka said she stuck with the project, and traveled with other crew members to New York for shooting in mid-December 2008. At the time, Gorka was the only woman actively working on the film. In lieu of paying for a hotel, she said Affleck and Phoenix decided to have the crew stay overnight at their apartment. After a long shoot, she claimed Phoenix offered to sleep in the living room and give Gorka his private bedroom.
Although these types of allegations are synonymous with the Hollywood lifestyle for some actors, it doesn’t mean that they can’t continue to have success. Audiences have historically stood by male celebrities who have been accused of harassment, sexual assault and abuse. But by selectively choosing which stars to pick on, the media becomes complicit in this ongoing cycle of easy forgiveness for celebrities.