The cast and crew of The Banker have spoken out publicly for the first time since Apple delayed the film’s release amid sexual abuse allegations against Bernard Garrett Jr., a co-producer on the film and son of the real-life subject played by Anthony Mackie.
In a joint statement Monday, Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson, writer-director George Nolfi, and several dozen other members of the production team said they stand behind the film.
“We set out to tell a story we were very passionate about, recounting the remarkable lives of Bernard Garrett Sr. and Joe Morris, and their ground-breaking achievements combating racial inequality in the 1950s and ’60s,” the statement said.
“Though we have no way of knowing what may have transpired between Mr. Garrett’s children in the 1970s, including the allegations of abuse we have recently been made aware of, our hearts go out to anyone who has suffered. The film itself is not based on the recollections of any of Bernard Garrett Sr.’s children, but rather, on recorded interviews with Bernard Garrett Sr. himself, conducted in 1995, supported by congressional transcripts, court rulings, and other media articles from the era. We stand by the film, and its positive message of empowerment,” the statement continued.
Actors Nicholas Hoult, Nia Long, Jessie T. Usher, and Colm Meaney were among those signing the document, along with writers Stan Younger, Niceole Levy, David Lewis Smith and Brad Caleb Kane; director of photography Charlotte Bruus Christensen; costume designer Aieisha Li; and casting director Kim Coleman.
Related Story: Apple Delays ‘The Banker’ Release Amid Abuse Claims
The Banker is based on the life of Garrett’s father, Bernard Garrett Sr., who in the 1950s and ’60s recruited a white man to front his real estate business in an effort to help African Americans overcome racial barriers and secure bank loans.
Apple canceled the film’s red carpet premiere last month and indefinitely delayed its release after Cynthia and Sheila Garrett came forward with abuse allegations against their half-brother, Bernard Garrett Jr. The two women alleged he molested them for years when they were children. He denied the allegations in a statement to Deadline.
“My half-sisters Cynthia and Sheila have accused me of molesting them in the early 1970s, when I was a teenager of about 15. This simply never happened. Period,” Garrett Jr. said. “What did happen is that I told my father when I discovered that their mother Linda was cheating on him, and they have always blamed me for the break-up that followed.”
The sisters also claimed the film’s timeline was altered to leave them out of the story. Garrett Jr.’s name has since been removed from the film’s credits.
The Banker had been scheduled to arrive in theaters on Dec. 6, and to debut on new streaming service Apple TV+ in January.
Apple pulled the film from AFI Fest in Los Angeles one day before it was scheduled to close the festival, saying “concerns” were raised regarding the real-life subjects.
“We purchased The Banker earlier this year as we were moved by the film’s entertaining and educational story about social change and financial literacy,” the tech giant said in a Nov. 20 statement. “Last week some concerns surrounding the film were brought to our attention. We, along with the filmmakers, need some time to look into these matters and determine the best next steps. In light of this, we are no longer premiering The Banker at AFI Fest.”