Ben Affleck was a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to promote his new film Justice League, when the host changed the subject to sexual harassment.


Affleck was caught off guard when Colbert brought up the fact that the actor’s breakout hit, Good Will Hunting, was produced by Harvey Weinstein. Affleck, clearly uncomfortable, asked, “This is a comedy show, correct?”

“This is a comedy show, but we also talk about the subject of the moment, what the national conversation’s about,” Colbert replied. “After the revelations—the disturbing and just truly horrifying revelations about what Harvey Weinstein did—did you feel, because you had such a close association with him at the beginning of your career, that you had to do more than simply distance yourself from Harvey Weinstein?” the host asked. “Because everybody ran from the exits.”

“Yes, and understandably so,” Affleck, 45, responded. “You know, for me, it was awful to see the extent of these terrible crimes. It was hideous. I haven’t worked for Harvey in more than 15 years, but nonetheless, I felt this attachment,” he explained. “I did movies like Good Will Hunting, Shakespeare in Love, and Chasing Amy—early movies that I really loved doing, when I still was totally brand new. And so, it sort of tainted that a little bit to realize while we were having these experiences and making these movies, there were people who were suffering and dealing with awful experiences. I didn’t really know what to do with that, you know? It’s hard to know.”

Affleck went on to explain that he decided to donate the residual money from any Miramax (Weinstein’s defunct production company) films he’d done to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network). He said he did so “because I didn’t want to sort of cash a check from the guy, and I thought, ‘Maybe I can feel ok about it if it’s going to a good cause.”

In October, hours after posting a statement to Facebook over his outrage at Weinstein’s actions, former MTV host Hilarie Burton posted about an incident in which she claims Affleck groped her. There was a clip from TRL with it, in which Affleck can be seen “tweaking her left boob,” as she described. “I had to laugh back then so I wouldn’t cry,” she wrote. At the time, Affleck simply said he was sorry – “I acted inappropriately toward Ms. Burton and I sincerely apologize.” About a week later, makeup artist Annamarie Tendler accused him of groping her in 2014 as well.

Colbert gave the actor the opportunity to explain himself on the show. And the host asked what Affleck thinks men can be doing to combat this sexual misconduct. “What I was accused of by a woman was of touching her breast while giving her a hug. I don’t remember it, but I absolutely apologized for it. I certainly don’t think she’s lying or making it up,” he started. “It’s just the kind o thing we have to, as men, I think, as we become more aware of this, be really, really mindful of our behavior and hold ourselves accountable and say, ‘If I was ever part of the problem, I want to change. I want to be part of the solution.’ And to not shy away from these awkward or strange encounters we might have had where we’re sort of navigating and not knowing,” he continued. “It’s just a tricky thing to try to handle. I think the most important thing to do is to support the voices coming forward, believe them, and create a business where more women are empowered and in place so less of this happens, and so there is a way of reporting this stuff so that people can feel safe doing it.”

Later in the program, Affleck acknowledged his privilege, and admitted that the current environment and many women speaking out has opened his mind to the issue. “I thought I had a sense of the scope of the problem and I thought I understood it, and the truth is I really didn’t. I didn’t understand what it’s like to be groped, to be harassed, to be interrupted, talked over, paid less, you know, pushed around, belittled—all the things that women deal with, that for me as a man, I have the privilege of not having to deal with,” he said. “Part of this, for me, has been listening to people I really care about and love as they tell me stories of stuff that has happened to them—this is men and women—and recognizing it’s a real thing. I’m not spokesman. I’m not a superhero. I can’t change it by myself. I can just be accountable for myself and my actions.”

Read more about: