“Suburbicon” director George Clooney and star Matt Damon have started to make the press rounds for their drama, which opens October 27, but their taped appearance on “Good Morning America” was more memorable for their new comments on the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal. Both actors condemned Weinstein’s actions in previous statements while stressing that they never knew about the extent of his behavior, but on “Good Morning America” the two admitted to at least knowing Weinstein was having affairs.
“When people say ‘everybody knew’ – Yeah, I knew he was an asshole,” Damon said. “He was proud of that. That’s how he carried himself. And I knew he was a womanizer. I wouldn’t want to be married to the guy. But that’s not my business.”
Clooney, who said it was “beyond infuriating” that a man like Weinstein had been “out there silencing women like that,” also said that he knew the director was having affairs. He defended remaining silent by explaining, “I didn’t necessarily believe him, quite honestly, because to believe would be to believe the worst of some actresses who were friends of mine.”
However, Damon said he was aware of the Gwyneth Paltrow story. Paltrow and Damon starred together in “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” which was co-distributed by Miramax in 1999. The actress revealed to The New York Times on October 10 that Weinstien sexually harassed her in his hotel room at the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel when she was only 22 years old. Damon said he knew Paltrow’s story from Ben Affleck but did not say anything because the act was between Paltrow and Weinstein exclusively.
“I knew that story, but I was working with Gwyneth, with Harvey, on [The Talented Mr. Ripley],” Damon said. “I never talked to Gwyneth about it. Ben [Affleck] told me, but I knew that they had come to whatever agreement or understanding they had come to. She had handled it. She was the First Lady of Miramax, and he treated her incredibly respectfully. Always.”
“You only had to spend five minutes with Harvey Weinstein to know he was a bully,” Damon explained at the start of the interview. “He was intimidating. That was his legend, that was his whole MO: Could you survive a meeting with Harvey? People who worked for him were, like, ‘I’m coming to make good movies. Miramax was the place making great stuff in the 90’s.”
“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,” he concluded.
More than 40 women have accused Weinstein of sexual harassment and abuse since The New York Times published its first report on the scandal on October 5. Women who have gone on the record against Weinstein include Rose McGowan, Ashley Judd, Sean Young, Cara Delevingne, and Lupita Nyong’o. Damon’s name got involved in the scandal when reports surfaced that he reportedly helped to kill a New York Times story about Weinstein in 2004. The actor denied the claims.