Update: Jodie Foster & Jennifer Lawrence are replacing Affleck and will be presenting the Best Actress award at the 2018 Oscars.
Casey Affleck has officially withdrawn himself as the presenter for the 2018 Oscars' Best Actress award. Many were calling for his removal after allegations of sexual misconduct arose last year.
Affleck won the Oscar for Best Actor last year for his career-defining performance in Manchester by the Sea. It's a long-held tradition that the Best Actor from the year before presents the award to the newest Best Actress, and vice versa. However, Deadline has reported that Affleck has stepped down from that tradition, reportedly in an effort to avoid any distractions from the accomplishments of those involved. With the recent rise in allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against powerful men in Hollywood, this decision was most likely the smartest move for all parties involved.
In 2010, Casey Affleck was sued by Magdalena Górka and Amanda White, two women who worked on his film I'm Still Here. In both cases, he was accused of attempting to coerce each woman to sleep with him, and supposedly even crept into Górka's bed while she was sleeping. They also accused him of abusive and inappropriate language directed at both of them. Each case was settled outside of court for an undisclosed sum, but the allegations resurfaced last year when he received his nomination for Manchester.
This forthcoming Academy Awards ceremony comes at a really interesting time for Hollywood. After the Harvey Weinstein news came to light last fall, an incredible amount of allegations and accusations have come to light against men in Hollywood like Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K. and James Franco. Many women have also become involved with the #MeToo Movement that empowers women to shed light on sexual harassment in their lives. Also, the Time's Up movement (which aims to fight gender inequality as well as sexual harassment) was prominently featured at the Golden Globes in the form of pins worn by actors and actresses who spoke out against gender inequality and sexual harassment. With all of this going on right before the Academy Awards, it signals a perfect storm of sorts that has the likelihood to turn into a PR nightmare for the Academy and Hollywood in general.
All in all, Casey Affleck has made the wisest choice possible in stepping down from presenting at the Oscars. Any involvement on his end would not only distract from the accomplishments of the winner and all the other nominees, but would also create yet another high-tension point for Hollywood. Whether Affleck's sensitivity to the nominated women is the real reason he stepped down or not, it was the only winning decision in a lose-lose situation.