The actor shared a since-deleted meme on his Instagram last week of Harding and Kerrigan sitting next to each other that said, “Back when ‘taking a knee’ meant taking a knee.” The meme referenced the 1994 events that inspired his upcoming film, I, Tonya, costarring Margo Robbie as the disgraced athlete. It recently world premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, where Stan and Robbie were both in attendance.
“Exactly… Can’t wait to share #itonya with you… Dec 8th – NY & LA Jan 19th – everywhere else #90slife #90shair #90shorror,” Stan wrote underneath the picture.
While the meme referenced the events in 1994 that led to Harding’s ex-husband hiring a hit-man to take Kerrigan’s knee out before the Winter Olympics, many fans felt it was insensitive due to the prevalence of the #TakeAKnee movement in wake of President Donald Trump calling for the firing of basketball and football stars like Colin Kaepernick, who have chosen to protest the national anthem by taking a knee.
After reading fan’s comments, the actor issued several apologies in their comment sections on the social media platform.
“Listen, guys, I’m sorry. I recognize the bad timing of my last post and I truly apologize to anyone who may have been offended by it,” he said in one, according to E! News. “It was in reference to an actual event that took place in 1994 which is now depicted in the movie I’m currently promoting. Nothing more.”
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Stan then wrote a longer apology on another fan’s page, thanking them for educating him on the issue.
“When I put up the post, I had not carefully researched the kneeling reference. In the past few days I have done the homework I should have done before absentmindedly posting that…To be clear on my values and where I stand…I am an immigrant and now an American citizen,” said the actor, who was born in Romania.
“My parents and I came to this country when I was 12 years old. To be an American, growing up I have learned that you agree to support and uphold the constitution and all of its amendments, the freedom of speech and the right to peacefully protest in order to ensure equality and justice for all,” he continued. “Like many people, I am extremely anxious and worried about the things that I see on the news and in the world these days. I wish I could take it all back but here I am. I will strive to learn from this issue.”
Amid backlash, Stan has deleted the Instagram meme.