Backstage at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Shameless best-actor winner William H. Macy was asked if he had any advice for younger men on how to act around women in Hollywood.
His response, made earnestly, was ponderous, weighing the creative risks of creating a politically correct environment in the arts, gender parity ("it's inevitable" he said firmly) and how men feel like "we're under attack" in the #MeToo era.
It was a puzzling mix.
On what he would tell younger men in his industry: "That's a really complicated question because on one hand, with what we do for the living, we've got to be free to speak the unspeakable and try things. So I hope it doesn't throw a wet blanket on things. And I don't believe it will because half the business is women and they're smart," said Macy.
The actor noted he has two daughters (with wife Felicity Huffman). "And I'm thrilled for them. It's a good time to be a girl. I'm proud of this business, because such things as safety in the workplace — that's done, we're not going back. It changed in an instant and it's not going back. When it comes to equality in pay, it's inevitable, and it's going to happen quickly."
Macy then focused on how men are grappling with the #MeToo era.
"It's hard to be a man these days," said Macy. "I think a lot of us feel like we're under attack and feel like we need to apologize. Perhaps we do. Perhaps we are. But we'll keep talking."
Macy added that he had recently convened with other men to discuss aspects of Time's Up, the anti-harassment initiative started earlier this month by some of Hollywood's leading women.
"We had a meeting, a bunch of guys got together under the auspices of Time's Up. And that's good for men. Men don't talk enough, and they don't talk to other men. And we talked."