Morgan Freeman is everywhere.
Not literally, as is the presence of God — but the well-known actor has even been the voice of God.
He’s also been the voice behind Doritos. A Lego character. Penguins.
If you can imagine it, he’s probably done a voice for it. His smooth baritone is heavily wrapped up within American culture in a way that would be difficult to unwind.
So it’s not without apprehension that many fans of the Oscar-winning actor have now received the news that he’s the latest focus of the #MeToo movement. No fewer than eight women have accused Freeman of sexual harassment and lewd misconduct via a recent report by CNN. Sixteen women reportedly discussed these allegations with the cable news outlet.
It highlights the story of a production assistant on the set of the 2017 film “Going in Style.” She says Freeman engaged in inappropriate touching and made lewd comments to her in the summer of 2015 when the movie was filming.
“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.”
“In one incident, she said, Freeman ‘kept trying to lift up my skirt and asking if I was wearing underwear,'” the story noted.
“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.'”
The actor issued a statement on Thursday afternoon to Sky News: “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,” said Freeman.
A female former employee of Revelations — Freeman’s production company — alleges he was on the set of television series “Through the Wormhole” when he looked her up and down and said, “How do you feel about sexual harassment?”
Other women have claimed that Freeman made sexually suggestive comments about women’s bodies on several occasions while on film sets and press junkets.
A female former employee of Revelations — Freeman’s production company — alleges he was on the set of the television series “Through the Wormhole” when he looked her up and down and said, “How do you feel about sexual harassment?”
“I was stunned,” the unidentified accuser told CNN. “This is the person that I worked for, this is his company, I didn’t expect it at all … I said timidly, ‘I love it’ in a sarcastic way hoping to make light of the situation because I was so confused, and then he turned to the guys on the crew … and said, ‘See, guys, this is how you do it.'”
One side effect of the barrage of accusations of sexual misconduct in the last year, as well as the media’s reliance on using unnamed witnesses, is that the bar is pushed higher in the public’s mind as to what constitutes a true “outrage.”
As each sensationalistic story of sexual misconduct emerges, the reputation of both the accusers and the accused are on the line.
While the accusations are extremely serious, it does not appear the alleged behavior is about sexual assault.
It’s uncertain as of now if these substantiated allegations of unethical and illegal behavior would be sufficient to provoke a massive public backlash against the Hollywood icon over the long term. Only time will tell how the actor weathers this storm — and how Hollywood responds to such behavior.