Matt Damon tore into Harvey Weinstein as he addressed the Hollywood sex scandal in a wide ranging interview, where he then appeared to defend disgraced comedian Louis C. K., saying their crimes were on different ends of a spectrum.
The Martian star, who worked with Weinstein on movies such as Good Will Hunting, said he always knew that the Miramax producer was a ‘womanizer’, and while he had no idea of the rape and sex assault allegations when he worked with him, he wasn’t entirely surprised.
‘I knew I wouldn’t want him married to anyone close to me,’ he said in an interview for ABC News’ Popcorn With Peter Travers. ‘But that was the extent of what we knew. I mean, and that wasn’t a surprise to anybody.
Matt Damon tore into Harvey Weinstein as he addressed the Hollywood sex scandal in a wide ranging interview on Thursday
‘I mean, look at the guy. Of course he’s a womanizer.
Dozens of women have come forward to accuse Weinstein of sexual misconduct in recent months. The allegations led to the 65-year-old being fired from his own Weinstein Company and removed from the board of the Oscars and Emmys.
Weinstein unequivocally denies ‘any allegations of nonconsensual sex’ and claims there was never any retaliation against women who turned down his advances.
The scandal opened the door to claims of sexual misconduct against numerous stars, powerful executives and politicians across the world of entertainment, media and politics, with the #MeToo campaign.
Damon said the fact that so many women felt empowered to share their stories was a ‘watershed moment’ and was ‘totally necessary’.
But he warned against tarring all offenders with the same brush.
‘I do believe that there’s a spectrum of behavior, right? And we’re going to have to figure — you know, there’s a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation.
Damon said he always knew that the Miramax producer was a ‘womanizer’ (they are pictured together in 2005)
‘Both of those behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated, right? You know, we see somebody like Al Franken. ‘I personally would have preferred if they had an Ethics Committee investigation, you know what I mean?
‘It’s like at what point — you know, we’re so energized to kind of get retribution, I think.’
Damon, a father-of-four, said that offenders such as Louis C.K, who admitted and apologized for forcing women to watch him masturbate, was at the other end of the spectrum to Weinstein and should be treated as such.
‘None of us came here perfect,’ said Damon. ‘The Louis C.K. thing… When he came out and said, “I did this. I did these things. These women are all telling the truth.”
‘And I just remember thinking, “Well, that’s the sign of somebody who — well, we can work with that”.
‘And the fear for me is that right now… the clearer signal to men and to younger people is, deny it. Because if you take responsibility for what you did, your life’s going to get ruined.’
Damon, who admitted he was a fan of Louis C.K’s, said that while rape and child molestation should be punished with prison, the comedian’s crimes were ‘just kind of shameful and gross’.
‘I don’t imagine he’s going to do those things again,’ he added.
‘I imagine the price that he’s paid at this point is so beyond anything that he… I just think that we have to kind of start delineating between what these behaviors are.’
He also appeared to defend Sen. Al Franken who announced he plans to step down after a photo emerged of his groping media personality Leeann Tweeden while she was asleep.
‘When you see Al Franken taking a picture putting his hands on that woman’s flak jacket and mugging for the camera, going like that, you know, that is just like a terrible joke, and it’s not funny,’ Damon said.
‘It’s wrong, and he shouldn’t have done that … But when you talk about Harvey and what he’s accused of, there are no pictures of that. He knew he was up to no good. There’s no witnesses. There’s no pictures. There’s no braggadocio … So they don’t belong in the same category.’
Damon appeared to defend disgraced comedian Louis C. K., saying their crimes were on different ends of a spectrum
He also appeared to defend Sen. Al Franken who announced he plans to step down after a photo emerged of his groping media personality Leeann Tweeden while she was asleep
Damon also spoke about director Ridley Scott’s decision to erase Kevin Spacey from his upcoming film All the Money in the World after the actor was accused of molesting a number of men.
The Jason Bourne star, who is married to Luciana Bozán Barroso, called the move a smart ‘business decision’.
He added that in the era of social media, where leaks are more likley, the time of confidentially agreements was over.
As a father, he said he worried but said ‘you just have to raise children with, like, self-esteem, because you’re not going to be there to make all of their decisions for them.’
‘And you have to just hope that they have enough self-respect to make the best decisions they can.’
But he acknowledged that even that might not be enough.
‘I mean, the Harvey situation is particularly horrible, because, you know, those women — when you say, “Hey, let’s take a meeting in a hotel room.” I mean, we auditioned, you know, for “Good Will Hunting” in a hotel room. Like, it’s common to take meetings in a hotel room.
Damon and Weinstein on March 20, 1999 at the Cuba DeAsia Restaurant at the Mondrian Hotel
‘And this is the most powerful man in the movie business at the time.’
Damon first opened up about the predatory behavior of his some-times boss Weinstein in October alongside George Clooney on ‘Good Morning America,’ with Damon also throwing his friend Ben Affleck under the bus.
Both men said that they knew Weinstein was a ‘bully’ and ‘womanizer’ who bragged of bedding actresses, but had no idea about the level of criminal behavior that was occurring behind closed doors in hotels.
Damon also confessed that he was aware Weinstein had sexually harassed ‘the first lady of Miramax’ Gwyneth Paltrow just before the actress shot the 1996 film adaptation of Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’ for the studio.
‘I knew the story about Gwyneth from Ben [Affleck] because he was with her after Brad [Pitt] and so I knew that story,’ said Damon.
‘But I was working with Gwyneth and with Harvey on [the 1999 film “The Talented Mr.] Ripley.”
He then added: ‘ I never talked to Gwyneth about it but Ben told me that whatever or agreement they had come to there was an understanding … and he treated her incredibly respectfully. Always.’
While Damon said that crimes such as rape – which Weinstein has been accused of – were unforgivable and should land the attacker in jail, he said not every sexual misconduct was the same. Pictured: Harvey Weinstein, Matt Damon and Terry Gilliam at ‘The Brothers Grimm’ film premiere in 2005
Paltrow said that she told boyfriend Brad Pitt at the time, and he immediately confronted Weinstein, who in turn ‘screamed’ at Paltrow and told her to never speak about the incident again according to The New York Times.
Damon was a bit more blunt in his assessment of Weinstein’s persona, having witnessed it first-hand when he starred in a string of Miramax films during the mid to late nineties
He was one of the few that had been part of the exclusive coterie of actor and actresses the studio favored at the height of Weinstein’s power, along with the likes of Cate Blanchett, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ewan McGregor and the aforementioned Paltrow, Affleck and Collete.
‘He bought “Good Will Hunting” and shot it in ’97 and I did three movies after that, he signed me to a three-picture deal,’ explained Damon.
‘That was the height of his power.’
He continued: ‘I mean, you had to spend about five minutes to know he was a bully. He was intimidating. That was his – that was his legend. That was his whole kind of M.O.’
Damon (left) said the crimes of Louis C.K., (right) who is accused of forcing women to watch him masturbate, were ‘shameful and gross’ but not in the same league as Weinstein
Damon said the fact that so many women felt empowered to share their stories was a ‘watershed moment’ and was ‘totally necessary’
But he warned against tarring all offenders with the same brush
This description of the movie boss also lines up with the accounts given be the victims, who said they could not turn down the powerful executive when he made demands to meet them in a hotel room or asked them to succumb to his demands.
‘Like could you survive a meeting with Harvey. Could you survive — could you stand up for yourself with Harvey,’ Damon went on to say in a poorly elected turn of phrase.
‘So when people say, “Everybody knew,” like, yeah, I knew he was an a**hole. I mean, he was proud of that. You know what I mean? That’s how he carried himself.’
He then stated: ‘I knew he was a womanizer. You know, I wouldn’t want be to married to the guy but I’m not – it’s not my business really.’
Damon later said that many were unaware because the incidents too place behind closed doors.
‘He didn’t do it out in the open,’ said Damon.
‘If there was ever an event where there was something I was at with Harvey in public and he was doing this thing and I missed it, and there’s some woman who was somehow assaulted and was at the Golden Globes or something and I somehow missed it, then I’m sorry.’