The Screen Actors Guild isn't wasting any time in considering "corrective actions" against Morgan Freeman following claims of sexual harassment against the 2018 SAG Life Achievement Award honoree. Freeman, of course, has been one of Hollywood's most celebrated actors, having earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for 2004's boxing drama Million Dollar Baby and four more Academy Award nominations, as well as a Golden Globe win for the 1989 drama Driving Miss Daisy and four more Globe nominations and the Hollywood Foreign Press' Cecil B. DeMille Award in 2012.
Such achievements as well as memberships in industry organizations for all actors and filmmakers have come under scrutiny, however, in the advent of the #MeToo and Time's Up movements, which began with the studio mogul Harvey Weinstein last fall. Since then, dozens of prominent industry personnel have been outed by accusers for alleged sexual misconduct, and in response, some high profile industry organizations are taking further actions to punish those named in the allegations. The irony for Freeman is that the sexual harassment allegations come after his gender equality-infused speech at the SAG Awards where he called out the statuette for being gender specific.
According to Deadline, SAG on Thursday took only mere hours to issue a statement regarding Freeman following a report where eight women alleged sexual harassment and/or inappropriate behavior against the actor. Freeman responded with a statement, saying, "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." SAG, which honored the actor in January with its 54th annual Life Achievement Award, however, is taking the allegations very seriously, and issued a statement that warned of potential "corrective actions." The union said:
"These are compelling and devastating allegations which are absolutely contrary to all the steps that we are taking to insure a safe work environment for the professionals in this industry. Any accused person has the right to due process, but it is our starting point to believe the courageous voices who come forward to report incidents of harassment. Given Mr. Freeman recently received one of our union’s most prestigious honors recognizing his body of work, we are therefore reviewing what corrective actions may be warranted at this time."
What those exact actions might be are still up in the air, but it's completely within reason to guess that should there be more allegations or any legal action stemming from the alleged incidents, at the very least, SAG could take back the Life Achievement Award and/or previous honors (he was nominated for four SAG Awards, winning for Million Dollar Baby), or possibly expel Freeman from its membership. After all, such an extreme move isn't unprecedented when it comes to high profile organizations, since the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences recently expelled Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski in response to their legal battles with sexual misconduct claims, and Weinstein was expelled last October after the flurry of allegations surfaced against him.
Whatever the case may be, the reverberations of the #MeToo and Time's Up movements - and rightfully so - are being felt far beyond the convictions and allegations of sexual misconduct in the entertainment industry, hopefully sending a signal to would-be offenders that times have definitely changed in Hollywood, and those who've already committed such deplorable actions that they haven't completely escaped their pasts and there will be consequences.