Casey Affleck will not attend the 2018 Oscars following last year's controversy over his first Oscar win.
The actor had last year won the Best Actor award for his role in Manchester by the Sea. According to Oscars tradition, the previous year's Best Actor winner presents the Best Actress Oscar. Affleck was supposed to present the award this year but has withdrawn from the 2018 event on March 4, Deadline and Variety reported on Thursday.
The actor and director's rep confirmed to E! News that Affleck will not attend the ceremony but offered no further comment. A rep for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences confirmed the withdrawal to NBC News, saying, "We appreciate the decision to keep the focus on the show and on the great work of this year."
Affleck's 2017 Oscar win was marred by controversy; in the weeks leading up to the ceremony, the media made mention of how in 2010, two women who worked on his Joaquin Phoenix documentary I'm Still Here sued him for sexual harassment. Affleck denied the claims and the cases were settled out of court. After his Oscar win, there was a backlash on Twitter.
Affleck's decision to skip the 2018 Oscars comes about three months after a slew of sexual assault and harassment allegations were made against famed producer Harvey Weinstein, which inspired scores of others to go public with similar accusations against other powerful men in and outside of Hollywood and which helped birth the #MeToo movement and Time's Up campaign to combat sexual misconduct.
The accusations of sexual harassment against Affleck have been highlighted again in recent months and a Change.org petition titled "Don't let Casey Affleck hand off the 2018 Best Actress Oscar" was started.
In November, Variety Co-Editor-in-Chief Claudia Eller asked Academy CEO Dawn Hudson if the organization was "giving any thought" to the Affleck situation, to which she responded, "Yes, we are. Of course we are. We're giving thought to all of this," according to Page Six.
Deadline quoted sources as saying that Affleck did not want to become a distraction from the focus that should be on the performances of the actresses in the category. The outlet said he was in a no-win situation, with all the attention surrounding the #MeToo movement. Affleck has not commented on the report.
After Affleck's 2017 Oscar win, many critics on Twitter posted about how Brie Larson, an advocate for sexual assault survivors and who had won a Best Actress Oscar in 2016 for her portrayal of a rape survivor in Room, had appeared upset and had not applauded him when she presented him with his award. It marked the second honor she had presented to him that awards season.
After the 2017 Oscars, Affleck talked The Boston Globe about the controversy, saying that none of the people who condemned him online know what happened, saying, "I believe that any kind of mistreatment of anyone for any reason is unacceptable and abhorrent, and everyone deserves to be treated with respect in the workplace and anywhere else."
"There's really nothing I can do about it," he added. "Other than live my life the way I know I live it and to speak to what my own values are and how I try to live by them all the time."