On Thursday, CNN published an investigation into a number of allegations of sexual harassment and “inappropriate behavior” against Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman. The 80-year-old actor has had a long career that includes films like Driving Miss Daisy, The Shawshank Redemption, Million Dollar Baby, and the Dark Knight trilogy, as well as voice work in movies such as The Lego Movie and March of the Penguins; he is also the co-founder of Revelations Entertainment, a production company that the report alleges fostered a “toxic work environment” for female staffers.
CNN reporters An Phung and Chloe Melas spoke with 16 people for the report.
One notable aspect of the report is that many people recounted witnessing or experiencing the harassment but didn’t report it for fear of their jobs being affected: “Instead, some of the women — both on movie sets and at Revelations — said, they came up with ways to combat the alleged harassment on their own, such as by changing the way they dressed when they knew he would be around.”
Recent studies have found that 75 percent of sexual harassment victims in the workplace experienced retaliation when they reported.
Here are the biggest revelations from CNN’s report on Freeman and his production company, which contains many detailed accounts that you can read in full:
- Eight women told CNN they were the victim of sexual harassment or “inappropriate behavior” from Freeman.
- The allegations include multiple accounts of inappropriate and sexually charged remarks, often about women’s bodies and clothing, as well as unwanted touching. One woman said that Freeman attempted to pull up her skirt and look beneath it on the set of the 2015 film Going in Style, and didn’t stop until he was reprimanded by co-star Alan Arkin. Another said that women on the Dark Knight crew often talked about Freeman’s behavior.
- Three entertainment journalists — including one of the article’s writers, Chloe Melas — said Freeman made inappropriate remarks during press junkets.
- Some people whom CNN spoke with said they knew which actor the reporters were inquiring about, even before the reporter named Freeman.
- The allegations include conduct on movie sets, while promoting films, and at Freeman’s production company, Revelations Entertainment. Freeman’s co-founder at Revelations, Lori McCreary — who herself was subjected to inappropriate comments in public from Freeman — reportedly witnessed at least one of the incidents. One person also said 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 the CNN report notes, these allegations are about incidents that occurred in public, in front of witnesses, and sometimes in front of cameras. “Before #MeToo, many men in the industry could behave without fear of consequences, because many times when a powerful man did so, it was the victim who suffered repercussions,” the report notes.
After CNN’s report was published, a representative for Freeman provided a statement from the actor to the Hollywood Reporter: “Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy. I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected — that was never my intent.” Over the weekend, Freeman released a longer statement characterizing his behavior as “misplaced comments or humor,” rather than sexual harassment.
On May 29, the Hollywood Reporter obtained a copy of a 10-page letter sent by Freeman’s attorney to Jeff Zucker, the president of CNN. The letter accused CNN’s report of having “inflicted serious injury” to Freeman’s career, called its reporting into question, and demanded a retraction.
You can read the report in full at CNN.com.
This article has been updated to include Freeman’s statements as well as his attorney’s letter.