"I tried to keep it on the light side"

Morgan Freeman rubbishes claims of abusive behaviour and harassment of women.
Morgan Freeman rubbishes claims of abusive behaviour and harassment of women.
Image: Christopher Polk / Getty Images

Actor Morgan Freeman said any suggestion he assaulted women or created an unsafe workplace is false.

He apologised to anyone he may have upset after media reported that women have accused him of inappropriate behaviour or harassment.

The accusations against the Oscar-winning actor are the latest in a torrent against male actors, filmmakers and agents that have roiled Hollywood since October 2017, leading in some cases to resignations and the halting of projects.

On Friday, movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was charged with rape and other sex crimes. Similar accusations have also engulfed men in US politics and business, and inspired a #MeToo social media movement by victims sharing their stories of sexual harassment or abuse.

CNN said it spoke with 16 people in its investigation into the 80-year-old actor, some of whom also alleged inappropriate behavior by Freeman at his production company, Revelations Entertainment.

"I am 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 said in a statement.

"But I also want to be clear: I did not create unsafe work environments. I did not assault women. I did not offer employment or advancement in exchange for sex. Any suggestion that I did so is completely false," he added.

CNN said eight people told the network they were victims of what some labeled harassment and others called inappropriate behavior by Freeman. It said eight others told the network they witnessed the actor's alleged misconduct.

CNN also said other sources denied having seen any questionable behaviour by the actor and that those sources described him as being professional on set and in the office.

Freeman said he is someone who feels a need to try to make women and men feel appreciated and at ease around him.

As part of that, he would often try to joke with and compliment women in what he thought was a lighthearted and humorous way, he said.

"Clearly I was not always coming across the way I intended. And that is why I apologised and will continue to apologise to anyone I might have upset, however unintentionally," he said.

Reuters was unable to independently confirm any of the allegations.

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