Nate Parker’s highly anticipated directorial debut “The Birth of a Nation” opens in theaters on Friday, and while doing press for the film, Parker has been addressing the 17-year-old rape accusations against him.
On Sunday, “60 Minutes” featured Parker and his film (in which he also stars) in a segment. Anderson Cooper was the correspondent for the story and delved into the accusations that Parker and his friend Jean MGianni Celestin (who has a writing credit on the film) raped a woman while attending Penn State University.
Parker was acquitted of the rape charge in a 2001 trial. It was revealed in August that the woman killed herself in 2012.
Parker said that he had been unaware that the woman was dead. When Cooper asked if Parker felt he owed her family an apology, the actor said:
“I do think it’s tragic, so much that has happened, and the fact that this family has had to endure with respect of this woman not being here. But I also think that, and I don’t want to harp on this and I don’t want to be disrespectful of them at all, but at some point I have to say it, I was falsely accused. I went to court and I sat in trial. I was vindicated, I was proven innocent, I was vindicated. And I feel terrible that this woman isn’t here and I feel terrible that her family had to deal with that but as I sit here, an apology — no.”
Parker also went on “Good Morning America” on Monday and though Robin Roberts pressed Parker on the rape allegations and if he was sorry, Parker referred to what he said on “60 Minutes” and repeated that he was falsely accused.
With “The Birth of a Nation” opening on over 2,000 screens on Friday, there’s now a question of whether the film’s distributor Fox Searchlight has gotten in front of the story enough to help box-office and Oscar chances. The Wrap reported in August that the film would need to earn around $50 million in its theatrical run to break even.
Meanwhile, talk about a potential best picture nomination has been floating since the film won the grand prize and audience awards at the Sundance Film Festival in January.