Morgan Freeman has denied he created unsafe working environments and sexually harassed women but admitted he did not always come “across the way” he intended.
The Hollywood actor, who has starred in Se7en and The Shawshank Redemption, has been accused by 16 women of behaving inappropriately.
Eight of the women told CNN they were victims of harassment or inappropriate behaviour.
Freeman, 80, said in a statement that he was devastated 80 years of his life was “at risk of being undermined in the blink of an eye”.
He said it was wrong to equate incidents of sexual assault with misplaced compliments and humour.
But he vowed to continue to apologise to anyone he might have “unintentionally” upset.
He said in a statement: “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.
“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 humour.
“I admit that I am someone who feels a need to try and 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.
“Clearly I was not always coming across the way I intended. And that is why I apologised Thursday and will continue to apologise to anyone I might have upset, however unintentionally.
“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.”
Eight other women interviewed said they witnessed behaviour they thought was inappropriate.
One of the women who claimed she was a victim worked as a production assistant on the set of Going In Style – a bank heist comedy starring Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin.
She claimed she suffered months of harassment from Freeman that included unwanted touching, comments about her figure and attempts to lift her skirt.
Three entertainment reporters told CNN Freeman made inappropriate remarks while they interviewed him.
CNN journalist Chole Melas, who was pregnant at the time and co-wrote the investigation, alleged Freeman looked her up and down several times before saying “I wish I was there” and “you are ripe”.
Freeman won an Oscar for best supporting actor for his role in Million Dollar Baby in 2005 and has been nominated four more times, including as a leading actor in The Shawshank Redemption in 1995 and Driving Miss Daisy in 1989.
He has also been nominated for an Emmy for Revelations Entertainment’s The Story of God with Morgan Freeman.
In 2017, he was honoured with a Screen Actors Guild award for lifetime achievement.