Morgan Freeman made a red carpet appearance on Friday, his first since sexual harassment allegations against the actor surfaced in May.
Freeman, 81, attended the Deauville Film Festival in France, where he was being honored with a lifetime achievement award, reports The Hollywood Reporter. During the ceremony, he gave a brief, emotional speech in which he appeared to reference the allegations against him.
“For reasons that are deeper than usual this year, I am grateful to receive this award,” Freeman said.
Earlier in the day, Freeman was asked about the Me Too movement during a press conference, but ignored the question. Organizers then told reporters to only ask questions about his career. He did answer a question about his experiences with racism, but did not answer a question about what he would like to say to President Donald Trump.
"Amazingly, I have landed roles that were absolutely not written for anyone black to play. But there I was doing it," Freeman said, according to THR. "Racism, it exists, but we watch television, we watch movies and we pay attention to what the actors are doing, then I think it's almost negligible except for certain areas of life. Can't make it clearer than that."
Freeman also cancelled one-on-one interviews with French media outlets due to fatigue, citing a trip to the Normandy beaches the day before.
Back in May, eight people accused Freeman of sexual misconduct and "inappropriate behavior" in a CNN story. Freeman issued two statements denying the allegations and demanded CNN retract its story. The news outlet did not, and instead stood by the report.
In his denial, Freeman said he was "devastated that 80 years of my life is at risk of being undermined, in the blink of an eye, by Thursday’s media reports."
Freeman continued, "All victims of assault and harassment deserve to be heard. And we need to listen to them. But it is not right to equate horrific incidents of sexual assault with misplaced compliments or humor. I admit that I am someone who feels a need to try to make women — and men — feel appreciated and at ease around me. As a part of that, I would often try to joke with and compliment women, in what I thought was a light-hearted and humorous way."
Freeman said his jokes were not always taken in the "way I intended," and apologized to "anyone I might have upset, however unintentionally."
After the CNN story was published, SAG-AFTRA said it was considering taking back Freeman's lifetime achievement honor. However, the union said this week that it would not.
On Aug. 31, National Geographic announced it would resume production on The Story of God's third season after the network completed its own investigation.
Freeman will also appear in Disney's The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, which opens Nov. 2.
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