In December 2008, Amanda White agreed to serve as a producer on an untitled documentary headed by Affleck and Flemmy Productions, which ultimately became I’m Still Here. She had a decade-long history of working with Affleck. Over the course of filming, White alleged in the complaint that she was repeatedly harassed. On one occasion, she claimed that Affleck ordered a crew member to take off his pants and show White his penis—even after she vehemently objected. She claimed that Affleck repeatedly referred to women as “cows,” and recounted his sexual exploits with reckless abandon. In her complaint, White recalled Affleck asking her “Isn’t it about time you get pregnant?” once he learned her age, and suggesting that she and a male crew member reproduce.
White’s accusations go on, ranging from incredibly unprofessional behavior to actual physical intimidation. She described an instance where she was prevented from returning to her bedroom during shooting, because Affleck and Phoenix had locked themselves in her room with two women where they had sex with them (Affleck was married with two children to Phoenix’s sister, Summer, at the time—though the couple recently split). She also alleged that Affleck attempted to manipulate her into sharing a hotel room with him. When she resisted, White claimed, he grabbed her threateningly and attempted to scare her into submission. Affleck then allegedly proceeded to send White abusive text messages, calling her “profane names” for refusing to stay with him. White filed a $2 million lawsuit against Affleck in Los Angeles Superior Court on July 23, 2010.
As part of her producer duties, White was also asked to renegotiate an agreement with Magdalena Gorka, the film’s director of photography. Gorka had previously left the project due to an alleged similar pattern of harassment. In her complaint, Gorka described her treatment at the hands of Casey Affleck as “the most traumatizing of her career.”
Almost immediately after beginning work on the project, the gross comments allegedly began. Gorka claimed Affleck and other members of the production team openly talked about engaging in sexual activities with her, and jokingly suggested that she have sex with the camera assistant, a good friend of Affleck’s.
On the assumption that Affleck’s behavior wouldn’t—or couldn’t—get worse, Gorka said she stuck with the project, and traveled with other crew members to New York for shooting in mid-December 2008. At the time, Gorka was the only woman actively working on the film. In lieu of paying for a hotel, she said Affleck and Phoenix decided to have the crew stay overnight at their apartment. After a long shoot, she claimed Phoenix offered to sleep in the living room and give Gorka his private bedroom.
According to Gorka’s complaint, she awoke in the middle of the night to find Affleck lying in bed next to her. She alleges that the actor was “curled up next to her in the bed wearing only his underwear and a T-shirt. He had his arm around her, was caressing her back, his face was within inches of hers and his breath reeked of alcohol.” Unaware of how long Affleck had been there or whether or not he had touched her while she slept, Gorka said she was “shocked and repulsed.” When she ordered Affleck out of bed, he allegedly responded, “Why?” to which she replied, “Because you are married and you are my boss.” Affleck then allegedly asked if she was “sure,” and when Gorka remained resolute, she claimed Affleck “left and slammed the door in anger.” Gorka then said that she flew back to New York, informed her agent of Affleck’s sexual advances, and quit the project.
When Amanda White contacted Gorka in January 2009, the cinematographer decided to give the film another shot. She said she had been unsuccessfully looking for work in the weeks since walking out on Affleck, and believed that having another woman on set would foster a safer working environment, and prevent further sexual harassment. If true, the presence of two women was hardly a deterrent.
Over the next few months, Gorka alleged that she was subjected to “a nearly daily barrage of sexual comments, innuendo, and unwelcome advances by crew members, within the presence and with the active encouragement of Affleck.” In addition to being berated and verbally attacked by the director, she claimed that she was constantly criticized for “refusing to be submissive” in response to his disrespectful comments and undermining rants. After months of work, Gorka once again resigned from the project due to alleged harassment and abuse. In what Gorka perceives as clear retaliation, Affleck refused to honor the terms of her employment agreement, which included a “Director of Photography” credit on the film. According to her complaint, Gorka continues to suffer from “humiliation, embarrassment, and emotional distress as a direct result of the harassment and abuse she endured during production.” Gorka filed a $2.25 million lawsuit against Affleck in L.A. Superior Court one week after White.
Amanda White also claimed that Affleck retaliated against her complaints. After White objected to Affleck’s behavior, she said he failed to pay her agreed upon producer’s fee. According to White, he also failed to pay her a “living wage” while she was working on the mockumentary. At the time of her complaint filing, White maintained that she had not been paid for any of the work she did on the film—a project she said she toiled on for over three months.
Overall, these complaints paint a decidedly different picture of Casey Affleck, leading man. In addition to allegedly harassing the women he employed, Affleck is said to have actively enjoyed putting them in uncomfortable positions, refusing to step in as the working environment on the project became increasingly hostile. In the words of White’s thorough and deeply damning complaint, “Affleck encouraged and participated in the harassment of Plaintiff and Gorka for his own twisted gratification.” Furthermore, both women insist that Affleck’s treatment only worsened when and if they objected—a campaign of retaliation and verbal abuse that ultimately culminated in his refusal to honor their contracts.
When his former employees first sued, Affleck vehemently denied their allegations, going so far as threatening to countersue. However, Affleck eventually agreed to mediation, during which a settlement was reached. While no details of any financial settlement were released to the public, it was reported that both women would receive due credit for their work on Affleck’s passion project.
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