There are plenty of actors who have been caught up in sexual scandal since the #MeToo movement began late last year, but none were so surprising as Morgan Freeman. The veteran actor, known for roles too numerous to mention, was accused by several women of inappropriate behavior during his career. Here’s what you need to know about the allegations leveled against the Academy Award-winning actor.
1) Eight separate women have accused Freeman of improper conduct during his time in the movie industry
According to a report filed Thursday by CNN, eight women had said that the Hollywood legend had subjected them to harassment during their time working with him.
One of the most recent allegations came during the 2015 filming of the film “Going in Style,” a comedy in which a group of senior citizens plans a bank heist. The unidentified female, a junior member of the production staff, said that Freeman would touch her inappropriately on her lower back and make untoward remarks about her figure and style of dress.
In one instance, she says, Freeman “kept trying to lift up my skirt and asking if I was wearing underwear.” She continued to move away and stop Freeman from doing so until one of his co-stars rebuked him. “Alan (Arkin) made a comment telling him to stop,” she said. “Morgan got freaked out and didn’t know what to say.”
All in all, CNN talked to 16 people as part of their investigation. Eight of them made sexual harassment allegations against Freeman while another eight backed up the stories.
2) Freeman’s alleged targets were not just low-level staff, either
While younger and less powerful actors and production assistants are often targets sought ought by serial sexual harassers or abusers, Freeman’s modus operandi seemed to include more powerful women, as well. One senior member of the production staff on 2012’s “Now You See Me” described similar treatment from the star.
“He did comment on our bodies … We knew that if he was coming by … not to wear any top that would show our breasts, not to wear anything that would show our bottoms, meaning not wearing clothes that (were) fitted,” she said.
She added that her female assistant received the same treatment from the star.
3) Lori McCreary, the co-founder of Freeman’s production company, is also accused of improper behavior in the report
McCreary was the co-founder or Revelations Entertainment, a film production company founded in 1996. CNN’s investigation revealed “an environment at Revelations Entertainment that included allegations of harassment or inappropriate behavior by Freeman there, with one incident allegedly witnessed by Lori McCreary, Freeman’s co-founder in the enterprise, and another in which she was the target of demeaning comments by Freeman in a public setting. One of those seven people alleged that McCreary made a discriminatory remark regarding a female candidate for a job at the Producers Guild of America, where McCreary is co-president.”
As with Freeman, a spokesperson for McCreary was given a detailed list of the allegations leveled against her in the article. “The spokesperson did not respond to multiple follow-ups by email seeking comment,” CNN noted.
Revelations Entertainment is best known for producing the movies “Along Came a Spider” and “Invictus,” as well as the CBS drama “Madam Secretary.” While the studio seemed to advocate a progressive agenda, according to CNN, that definitely wasn’t the case inside the organization. They said that “former staffers who spoke with CNN say that behind the façade of a progressive and artistic agenda the company’s two founders created what one called a ‘toxic’ work environment. Six former staffers said they witnessed Freeman’s questionable behavior around women, which they said included sexual comments and one said included an incident of unsolicited touching. One female former staffer said she was the target of sexual comments by Freeman.”
4) Much like other stars, Freeman’s behavior could have been considered an open secret in the Hollywood community
Perhaps the most disturbing part of the accusations leveled against Freeman was how many of them had taken place in public, apparently with other witnesses present — and not just Alan Arkin.
CNN entertainment reporter Chloe Melas — one of the co-authors of the report — discussed how Freeman treated her in public during a press junket for “Going in Style.” Melas was pregnant at the time and Freeman shook her hand, not letting go while looking her up and down. He told her things like “you are ripe” and “Boy, do I wish I was there.” According to Melas’ account, Arkin and another “Going in Style” co-star, Michael Caine, were present in the room at the time.
And then there was this massively uncomfortable compilation of comments Freeman made to reporters from “Entertainment Tonight.”
Perhaps the most ominous reaction to just how open the secret really was, however, was how people responded when CNN contacted them about the story.
“Several other times during this investigation, when a CNN reporter contacted a person who had worked with Freeman to try to ask them if they had seen or been subjected to inappropriate behavior by an actor they had worked with — not initially even naming the actor they were asking about — the person would immediately tell them they knew exactly who the reporter had in mind: Morgan Freeman,” the report notes.
“Some of those people were sources for this investigation while others declined to comment further or did not want what they said used in this story.”
5) Freeman has apologized for his actions — sort of
As has become de rigueur in these sorts of situations, Freeman has issued a rather tame apology for his alleged past behavior without acknowledging any significant level of wrongdoing
In a statement, Freeman issued an apology to “anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected.”
“Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy,” the statement by the 80-year-old actor read.
If what was outlined in the report was true — and Freeman certainly didn’t issue any sort of strenuous denial — that’s a very hard thing to believe.
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