Multiple women have come forward to accuse 80-year-old actor Morgan Freeman of sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct. A story published by CNN details the allegations of eight people who said they were victims of Freeman’s behaviour and eight others who claim to have witnessed his behaviour. The accounts reveal Freeman’s alleged fixation with the way women dress, recounting dozens of comments about the physical appearance of women he met on set, journalists, and employees of his company Revelations Entertainment.
Here’s an account from one woman who worked with Freeman on the 2015 film Going in Style:
She alleges that Freeman subjected her to unwanted touching and comments about her figure and clothing on a near-daily basis. Freeman would rest his hand on her lower back or rub her lower back, she said.
In one incident, she said, Freeman “kept trying to lift up my skirt and asking if I was wearing underwear.” He never successfully lifted her skirt, she said—he would touch it and try to lift it, she would move away, and then he’d try again. Eventually, she said, “Alan [Arkin] made a comment telling him to stop. Morgan got freaked out and didn’t know what to say.”
Another woman working in production for 2012’s Now You See Me remembers similar behaviour from Freeman. “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 told CNN.
CNN also included the account of one of its entertainment reporters, Chloe Melas, who co-authored the piece. Melas alleges she was harassed while interviewing Freeman at a press junket for Going in Style. Here’s her account below:
According to Melas, who was six months pregnant at the time, Freeman, in a room full of people, including his co-stars Arkin and Caine, shook Melas’ hand, not letting go while repeatedly looking her up and down and saying more than once a variation of, “I wish I was there.” She says he also said to her, “You are ripe.” Cameras were on and recording during one of Freeman’s remarks to Melas—”Boy, do I wish I was there”—but not for the rest. As is common practice with such junkets, Melas was the only CNN employee there at the time.
These are just a few of the 16 accounts of harassment shared in CNN’s new piece. The story also details the “toxic” work environment of Freeman’s company Revelations Entertainment, which he co-founded with Lori McCreary in 1996. “[He’d say] things like ‘I’d like to have an hour with her’ or make vulgar and sexual comments about women,” one former employee told CNN. “He would be verbally inappropriate and it was just shocking. You’re more shocked than anything because it’s hard to have the wherewithal to say to him ‘That’s inappropriate.’ You’re just like ‘Whoa.’ It’s hard because on any set he is the most powerful person on it. It’s weird because you just don’t expect it from Morgan Freeman, someone who you respect.”
Shortly after CNN‘s story broke, Freeman released a statement in response to the allegations. “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 Oscar winner said. “I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected—that was never my intent.”
As a result of the accusations, Freeman could lose his Screen Actor’s Guild Lifetime Achievement award, which he received back in January. “These are compelling and devastating allegations which are absolutely contrary to all the steps that we are taking to ensure a safe work environment for the professionals in this industry,” a SAG representative told TMZ
Freeman is best known for his famous voice acting and roles in Million Dollar Baby, Shawshank Redemption, and countless others.