Stephen Colbert isn't letting Ben Affleck off the hook.
The actor appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Thursday, ostensibly to promote Justice League, which hit theaters this week. But Colbert didn't stick to easy questions — he also asked Affleck about his alleged groping of Hilarie Burton in 2001, and sexual misconduct in Hollywood on the whole.
Colbert eased into the topic by asking Affleck about Good Will Hunting — and then noting that Harvey Weinstein's Miramax produced the film. Sensing where the conversation was going, a visibly uncomfortable Affleck said to Colbert, "This is a comedy show, correct?" Colbert told him it was, but that he also discusses "the subject of the moment."
The host then asked Affleck if he felt he needed to take action after being so closely associated with Weinstein at the beginning of his career.
"For me, it was a little bit, I mean, it was awful to see the extent of these terrible crimes. And it was hideous. And I haven't worked for Harvey for more than 15 years, but nonetheless, I felt this attachment to movies like Good Will Hunting, and Shakespeare in Love, and Chasing Amy, and some of the early movies that I really loved doing when I was totally brand new. And so it sort of tainted that a little bit, to realize while we were having these experiences and making these movies, there were people who were suffering and dealing with awful experiences," Affleck told Colbert. "So 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, whom you can also donate to. Just because I didn't want to, sort of, cash a check from the guy, and I thought, Well, maybe I can still feel okay about it if it's going to a good cause."
Earlier this month, Affleck announced that he would be donating his residual earnings from Justice League to the two organizations, which help survivors of sexual assault. He also told The Associated Press that he was "looking at my own behavior and addressing that and making sure I'm part of the solution."
After Affleck addressed the films he'd made that are connected to Weinstein, Colbert launched right into asking the actor about the sexual misconduct claims against him. Colbert asked Affleck if he felt there was more that he, or all men in Hollywood, should be doing "to make sure that this isn't a passing thing."
"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. "This is just the kind of thing that we have to, as men, I think, in this, as we become more aware of this, be really, really mindful of our behavior, and hold ourselves accountable, and say, 'If I was ever part of the problem, I want to change. I want to be part of the solution.' And to not shy away from these uncomfortable or awkward or strange encounters we might have had, where we were sort of navigating and not knowing."
After a clip of Affleck allegedly groping Burton on TRL in 2001 resurfaced in October, the actor tweeted, "I acted inappropriately toward Ms. Burton and I sincerely apologize."
Affleck also noted to Colbert that he "laughed awkwardly" during a different recent interview when he didn't know how to answer a similar question. "The most important thing to do is to support the voices that are coming forward, believe them, and create a business where more women are empowered and in place so that less of this happens, and so that there's a way of reporting this stuff that people can feel safe doing," Affleck said. It sounds like he really does want to be a part of the solution to Hollywood's sexual misconduct problem; donating his residuals and talking about the problem is a great place to start.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
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