Matt Damon is finally speaking out against Harvey Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women, including Gwyneth Paltrow (Damon’s costar in The Talented Mr. Ripley) and Angelina Jolie (Damon’s costar in The Good Shepherd).
In an interview with Deadline, Damon denounced Weinstein’s alleged behavior and claimed to have no knowledge of his actions.
“We know this stuff goes on in the world,” Damon told Deadline. “I did five or six movies with Harvey. I never saw this. I think a lot of actors have come out and said, everybody’s saying we all knew. That’s not true. This type of predation happens behind closed door, and out of public view. If there was ever an event that I was at and Harvey was doing this kind of thing and I didn’t see it, then I am so deeply sorry, because I would have stopped it. And I will peel my eyes back now, [farther] than I ever have, to look for this type of behavior. Because we know that it happens. I feel horrible for these women and it’s wonderful they have this incredible courage and are standing up now.”
Weinstein helped launch Damon and Ben Affleck’s careers in the mid-1990s by championing and executive producing Good Will Hunting. (Affleck has also condemned Weinstein, saying that he is “saddened and angry that a man who I worked with used his position of power to intimidate, sexually harass and manipulate many women over decades.”)
“We can all feel this change that’s happening, which is necessary and overdue,” Damon added. “Men are a huge part of that change, and we have to be vigilant and we have to help protect and call this stuff out because we have our sisters and our daughters and our mothers. This kind of stuff can’t happen. This morning, I just feel absolutely sick to my stomach.”
Damon has been criticized for remaining silent in the wake of the Weinstein allegations, including by his costar in The Martian, Jessica Chastain. Asked about those comments, Damon said, “Look, even before I was famous, I didn’t abide this kind of behavior. But now, as the father of four daughters, this is the kind of sexual predation that keeps me up at night. This is the great fear for all of us.”
Despite his past relationship with Weinstein, Damon said he wasn’t the “story here” and instead pushed to focus on the women and their allegations. “The story is these women and what happened to them. So if I’m experiencing this discomfort, it hardly bears mention. There are some real victims here and they are being incredibly brave. Hopefully, them going through this experience right now will help them heal. They are who we all should be thinking about,” Damon said.
After the New York Times published an explosive exposé last week where multiple women accused Weinstein of sexual harassment, The New Yorker published its own piece Tuesday, where even more women went on the record. In the story, Asia Argento, an actress and filmmaker, alleged Weinstein raped her by forcibly performing oral sex on her. Two other women made similar assault claims against Weinstein.
Many of Weinstein’s former collaborators have denounced him, while actresses like Paltrow and Jolie have come forward to claim that they too were sexually harassed by Weinstein.
In a statement provided to The New Yorker, Weinstein’s spokeswoman Sallie Hofmeister said that Weinstein denies any allegations of sexual assault.
“Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein,” Hofmeister said. “Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances. Mr. Weinstein obviously can’t speak to anonymous allegations, but with respect to any women who have made allegations on the record, Mr. Weinstein believes that all of these relationships were consensual. Mr. Weinstein has begun counseling, has listened to the community and is pursuing a better path. Mr. Weinstein is hoping that, if he makes enough progress, he will be given a second chance.”