Ben Affleck, the world's rumored on-and-off Batman, was on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Thursday night, and he did not escape Colbert's questions about the Harvey Weinstein scandal and how that story has opened the floodgates for people to tell their own sexual harassment stories at the hands of powerful people in Hollywood.
Affleck has starred in a few Miramax movies himself, including Gone Baby Gone and his claim to fame, Good Will Hunting, which he wrote with buddy Matt Damon. (Miramax was Weinstein's production company.) Affleck has also been accused of groping former TRL host Hilarie Burton (there's even video evidence), so Colbert really went in with the questioning. Despite that, Affleck had relatively poised and insightful responses to each of Colbert's questions.
When it comes to Miramax, Affleck admitted it felt awful to see the "extent" of Weinstein's crimes. Even though he hadn't worked for Weinstein in 15 years, it tainted the actor's memories of his early career and he didn't know how to react. After all, as Colbert points out, the person who kicked off Affleck's career was Weinstein himself by producing Good Will Hunting, and Affleck also appeared in Chasing Amy and Shakespeare in Love, both produced by the now-disgraced executive's company. But Affleck has decided to donate all future residuals he receives from any Miramax movies to RAINN, America's largest anti-sexual assault organization, and Film Independent, a non-profit which works to champion independent filmmakers. “I didn’t want to cash a check from the guy, and maybe I can feel okay about it if it’s going to a good cause,” Affleck said.
Colbert also asked Affleck about the allegations of sexual harassment against against the movie star himself. He explained that he was accused of groping Hilarie Burton when she was a TRL host, which she tweeted about in early October.
"I don't remember it, but I absolutely apologized for it. I certainly don't think she's lying or making it up," Affleck said. "It's just the kind of thing we have to, as men, I think, 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.'"
It should also be noted that the groping incident with Burton is not the only case of sexual harassment that has been levied against Affleck. He was also caught on video pulling Anne-Marie Losique, a woman who was interviewing him for a Canadian show, onto his lap and commenting about her breasts in 2004. Additionally, Affleck has been accused of groping a makeup artist at a Golden Globes Party. Affleck has also publicly supported his brother Casey Affleck throughout his career even though Casey has been sued twice for sexual harassment.
Affleck went on to explain that if the current sea of allegations are going to have any kind of permanent change, "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." He also added that there should be "a way of reporting this stuff" so that the victims "can feel safe doing it."
But Affleck wasn't done. He went on to pinpoint another crucial aspect of the problem: people who are in positions with more power—usually men—often cannot see the issue for what it is, and therefore cannot understand the scope of the problem. It's important to be aware of how different people experience the same industry or event and allow room for their experiences to be heard too.
"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 told Colbert. "I didn't understand what it's like to be groped, to be harassed, to be interrupted, talked over, paid less, you know, pushed around, belittled—all the things that women deal with, that for me as a man, I have the privilege of not having to deal with. 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 it's a real thing."
"I'm not spokesman. I'm not a superhero," he added. "I can't change it by myself. I can just be accountable for myself and my actions."