Nate Parker declined to apologise for a college rape trial that has shrouded the release of The Birth of a Nation in controversy during an appearance on CBS's 60 Minutes.
The director, producer, writer, and star of the historical epic was ultimately exonerated of charges that he sexually assaulted a fellow student at Penn State. Parker did acknowledge that a sexual encounter had taken place - one that involved his roommate and The Birth of a Nation co-writer Jean Celestin. However, he said the act was consensual. His accuser later committed suicide, years after dropping out of college.
"I was falsely accused...I went to court...I was vindicated," Parker tells Anderson Cooper, according to a press release from 60 Minutes. "I feel terrible that this woman isn't here...her family had to deal with that, but as I sit here, an apology is - no."
He said he hoped that anger over the accusations wouldn't cause people to boycott his film about Nat Turner's 1831 slave rebellion.
"I think that Nat Turner, as a hero, what he did in history, is bigger than me," said Parker. "I think it's bigger than all of us."
60 Minutes did release footage of some of the Nate Parker interview, although the program did include an excerpt in which Parker discusses his Christian faith. In it Parker does admit that his behaviour that night gave him pause when Cooper asks him if he feels he did something morally wrong.
"As a Christian man, just being in that situation, yeah sure," Parker said. " I am 36 years old right now...my faith is very important to me...so looking back through that lens...it's not the lens I had when I was 19 years old."
The Birth of a Nation scored a record-breaking deal after it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival with Fox Searchlight beating out the likes of Netflix to land distribution rights for $17.5 million. It opens on Oct. 7. The film had been expected to be a major awards contender, but the furore surrounding the rape claims may sink its Oscar chances.
The 60 Minutes interview airs on Sunday.