Ben Affleck says he regrets asking PBS to edit out slave-owning ancestor

Wed Apr 22, 2015 12:15am EDT
 
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor Ben Affleck said Tuesday he regretted asking a PBS documentary show profiling his ancestors to not include a relative who was an owner of slaves, saying he was embarrassed by the revelation.

Affleck's ancestry was traced by Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr, known as Skip, for an episode in the second season of his Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) series "Finding Your Roots," in which well-known personalities can discover more about their family history.

"I didn't want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves. I was embarrassed. The very thought left a bad taste in my mouth," Affleck said in a statement on his Facebook page.

"I regret my initial thoughts that the issue of slavery not be included in the story," he added.

Representatives for PBS and Gates did not respond to requests for comment.

The issue came to light after anti-secrecy website Wikileaks released a searchable database of more than 30,000 documents that were stolen by hacker from Sony Corp's Sony Pictures Entertainment in a massive cyber attack last year.

Affleck said in his statement that Gates had final say in what was included in the episode, which aired last October, and he had "lobbied" Gates on what elements of his family history to use in the show.

The Oscar-winning actor-director added that he assumed the show "will respect your willingness to participate and not look to include things you think would embarrass your family."

"While I don't like that the guy is an ancestor, I am happy that aspect of our country's history is being talked about," he said.

(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

 
Actor Ben Affleck poses backstage with the Hollywood film award, which he accepted on behalf of the creators, for "Gone Girl" during the Hollywood Film Awards in Hollywood, California November 14, 2014.  REUTERS/Danny Moloshok