Matt Damon and George Clooney have discussed the allegations directed at Harvey Weinstein, with Damon describing the shamed Hollywood mogul as an “asshole” and confirming that he knew of Gwyneth Paltrow’s accusations about Weinstein.
In recent weeks, film producer Weinstein has been accused of rape, sexual harassment and other forms of misconduct by numerous women, allegations that he “unequivocally denies”. Damon worked with Weinstein on numerous occasions during his early career, while Clooney appeared in three films distributed by Weinstein’s Miramax.
Earlier this month, Gwyneth Paltrow added her voice to the growing number of claims of misconduct levelled at Weinstein, accusing the Miramax boss of sexual harassment. Paltrow alleged that Weinstein was inappropriate towards her when she was 22. Prior to the filming of Emma, Paltrow claimed that Weinstein “summoned her” to his hotel suite, “placing his hands on her and suggesting they head to the bedroom for massages”. “I was a kid, I was signed up, I was petrified,” Paltrow said, claiming that her boyfriend at the time, Brad Pitt, confronted Weinstein, who soon after threatened her to keep quiet. “I thought he was going to fire me,” she added.
Speaking to Good Morning America, Damon said that he had been told of Paltrow’s story by Ben Affleck, who dated Paltrow from 1997 to 2000. He went on to claim that Paltrow and Weinstein “had come to whatever agreement or understanding they had come to”, adding: “She had handled it. She was the First Lady of Miramax, and he treated her incredibly respectfully. Always.”
“You had to spend five minutes with him to know he was a bully, he was intimidating. That was his legend. That was his whole M.O,” Damon added. “When people say everybody knew, yeah, I knew that he was an asshol. He was proud of that. That’s how he carried himself. I knew he was a womanizer. I wouldn’t want to be married to the guy, but that’s not my business, really. But this level of criminal sexual predation is not something that I ever thought was going on. Absolutely not.”
Damon went on to say that Weinstein “didn’t do it out in the open,” continuing: “If there was ever an event or something that I was at, in public with Harvey, and he was doing this kind of thing and I missed it? And there’s some woman who was somehow assaulted, and it was at the Golden Globes, and I somehow missed it? Then I’m sorry.”
Clooney, meanwhile, said that Weinstein had told him that he had affairs with “some actresses who were friends of mine,” but that he never believed him. “I didn’t really think that they were going have affairs with Harvey, quite honestly. And clearly they didn’t,” he said.
“But the idea that this predator, this assaulter was out there silencing women like that, it’s beyond infuriating,” Clooney added. “There has to be a comeuppance for all of this. All of the people who are part of that chain. We have to make it safe for people to feel that they can talk about this. And in doing that, I think that’ll scare away that kind of behaviour.”
Stating that his wife Amal knew of similar misconduct in the law world, Clooney went on to say: “Many, if not most, women have at some point in their life faced this kind of behaviou r. I think that’s a little bit of a surprise to some of us. That it’s this big.”
“Maybe that’s something else that’s good that comes out of this, is that … we’re going to have these discussions. We’re going to have this conversation. And again we’re going to make it harder for it to happen.”
Weinstein has denied many of the claims made against him, with his spokeswoman previously saying: “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr Weinstein. Mr Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances. He will not be available for further comments, as he is taking the time to focus on his family, on getting counseling and rebuilding his life.”